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'Essay writing is not a reliable form of assessment'

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Introduction

'Essay writing is not a reliable form of assessment' Essays are commonly used in the education system so we have to be sure it is a fair system to all students. We are going to be looking at what may make it fair or unfair. If the system is not fair, then it cannot be a reliable form of assessment. We will research topics such as the wide variety of teachers and institutions whose standards may differ from others. We will also research multiple intelligence and other methods that may be used to assess students. To determine the knowledge, skills and understanding achieved by students, we use assessments. It is a judgment of achievements and progress in a certain topic or subject. Students need to be able to show that they can think critically and make and judgements. To achieve this, we use methods of written assessments such as reports, journals and essays. An essay is used to determine the development of sustained arguments, supported by critical evaluation of appropriate evidence. Essays are one of the most common written assignments that students are required to submit. The aim of writing an essay is to inform, entertain and be able to convince the person reading it. It is the response to a question which needs a point of view and an argument that has been thoroughly researched. ...read more.

Middle

There is also group work, where you can assess teamwork skills, group facilitation and negotiating skills. Discussions, debates and role plays encourage shared understanding of a topic and sophisticated application of communication skills. These are only a few of the ways that students may be assessed. Morgan (1999, p.3) states 'when choosing assessments methods it is important to offer variety to learners in the way they demonstrate their learning'. If these methods were used as often as essay writing, more students will then be able to show their skills to the best of their abilities. The issues of whether essay writing is not a reliable form of assessment are best answered by the individual or teacher. It is a reliable way to assess people who possess the skill of linguistic intelligence and would be unfair to these students, not to use essays as a form of assessment. Because it only represents a minority of people, we need to use other methods such as oral presentations or role playing along with essay writing, so people who do not possess superior writing skills, have an equal chance of higher assessments marks. The issue as to whether essay writing is too difficult to learn and write is also dependent on the individual. Providing every teacher and institution makes the criteria and personal standards clear, there is then no evidence to suggest that essays are not a fair way to assess students. ...read more.

Conclusion

Teacher fatigue whilst marking an essay may cause variations in their standard, especially if all essays are on the same topic. It is also hard to mark essays as it is an opinion of a student and there are no right or wrong answers. The mark may depend on what teachers' opinion of the essay rather than whether the student has correctly done the assignment. The marker needs to be sure that the student can give evidence for every point that has been made. Another factor which may make this system unfair is Gardiner's multiple intelligence theory. His theory identifies that we use at least seven different ways to learn. The whole aim of education is to help both children and adults develop all of their intelligences. We can help to do this by simply offering a wider variety of opportunities for success and by balancing essay writing and other forms of assessments. This is the only way we can make essays a reliable form of assessment. This system would assess all students fairly and not just a handful. It will help each student to develop to his or her greatest potential. Reference list Perry, J1996, The multiple intelligence theory, viewed 15th May 2005, <www.cookps.act.edu.au> Morgan, C 1999, Pathways to good practices: Selecting methods of assessments, viewed 15th May 2005, <http;//www.scu.edu.au/services/tl/pathways/appendices/a16.html> Central Queensland University: Communications learning centre, The academic essay, viewed 16th May 2005, <www.dtls.cqu.edu.au> ...read more.

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