Assessment..or How Guilty We Can Be

In Uncategorized on July 19, 2011 at 5:48 pm


I was thinking that some of us are not aware of the many assessment errors we make…I know I was and perhaps will be guilty of some so I thought I would make a list to remind myself. On the oher hand, I think we all need a reminder of what can go wrong because of our inherent human nature….but which should NOT impact children.

1. The “halo” effect
The teacher tends to give the same grade to the same students based on an overall impression (usually formed at the beginning of the year). Thus neither the little progress struggling learners make is noticed nor the minor errors the “good” ones have.

2. The “anchor” effect:
The teacher notices an outstanding/new approach of a student in relation to their work and will make THAT a standard for the rest of the classroom. Unfair, right?

3. The “Pygmalion” effect:
The teacher influences the results students have by explicit or implicit language/behavior (we all know that successful students tend to be more motivated and thus get to work harder and vice versa).

4. The “central tendency” effect:
It is usually the new teachers who fall in this category: they are afraid not to over- or underestimate learners and so they use “middle” grades.

5. The “similarity” effect:
The teacher takes himself/herself as a reference point in assessing students: that is, if s/he was a successful, hardworking student in their youth…they would most likely “punish” the students who do not follow this pattern.

6. The “contrast” effect:
The teacher assesses students based on the PROXIMITY of their work: we tend to underestimate a student’s project/test/product if it follows an outstanding one and vice versa.

7. The “logical fallacy” effect:
The teacher replaces the real indicators/standards of excellent work with others, which are tangential to the actual level of learning such as the effort the student put, the general qualities the respective student has (hardworking, discipline, determination etc).

8. The “order” effect:
The teacher grades different student products with similar grades and fails to notice the differences due to exhaustion or other mood-related parameters. 

9. The “teacher style” effect:
The teacher assesses in accordance to their own style: either focused on “quantity” of knowledge or on creativity, originality.

Do you think you were guilty of any of these? Because I know I have been sometimes and I need to remember that.


  1. Don’t recognise myself here at all…other than in the "exhaustion" comment and I’m sure I make some mistakes in assessment for this reason. Besides that, I’m perfect…ask my mum.

  2. An excellent summary. Yes, I have done many of these. I’ve never read anything like this before, although I’m aware of certain psychological processes, e.g. anchoring, halo etc.

  3. Ha ha ha! I hope you don’t want me to reply to that – nothing beats perfection!!!

  4. Thank you for the comment, David. I surely was entangled in some of them when I started teaching…

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