How can initial and diagnostic assessments be used to agree learners’ individual goals and learning?

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Both initial and diagnostic assessments allow teachers and students to agree learners’ goals because they provide a basis for these goals to be set from. “Diagnostic assessment informs both us and our learners where they can best focus their attention and their energies.” (Gould & Roffey-Barentsen, 2014, p. 98). 

The initial assessment is done at the beginning of a course, meaning that it is primarily used to gauge where the student currently stands in their learning. This can also be in terms of their interests and previous goals they may have had. As a teacher once informed by this assessment it is my role to decide firstly if the student is suited for the course. If the student is suited for the course, I will make suggestions to the student on how they can achieve their aims. Previously in my experience teaching ESOL I have taken initial assessments of students where they have stated their desire to study in further education in the future. I have suggested they do self-study outside class hours, so they build on their acclimation to the language, through reading, listening to podcasts and making notes about the material to improve comprehension of the language. This is a small step on their learning pathway to achieving their future aspirations and it will improve many skills required to being a confident English speaker. 

The diagnostic assessment is similar in that it is done at the start of the course as well but where it differs from the initial assessment is that it is done to identify specific subject-related strengths and weaknesses. I have assessed students in the past using fill in the gap exercises about proper use of verbs, nouns and adjectives. I graded the students based on the percentage they scored. This allowed me to see where students struggled exactly. This meant I could tailor my teaching to exact need of the student, so if they struggled with verb usage, I gave them more exercises on this topic after explaining one to one how they are used. After consultation with the students, we came to a conclusion of how we could improve weaknesses in certain topic through extra assignments, more homework or self-study.          

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