Although a teacher may observe a certain lack of coordination or control within an individual he or she may be aware that a number of children appear to be incapable of performing even the simple skills such as catching a ball or skipping with a rope. In this instance it may be important to design a means of assessment in order to identify any areas of difficulty or deficiency and the manner and extent to which they may require intervention for development.
This has valuable implications for teachers in the classroom. Before a teacher can determine the types of learning strategies to enhance motor learning, he or she must first be able to categorize the skill. Depending on the type of skill, strategies may differ. Therefore, it is very important that the classification of the motor skill be determined prior to instruction.
Guidelines for Assessment
Assessment process should be approached in a planned and systematic manner. The following are 5 important questions to review before beginning to assess students:
1 Why do you want to assess students?
2 What variable do you plan to assess?
3 Which test will assess the important variable that you have identified?
4 How will you prepare your students for assessment?
5 How do you share the results?
Assessment of student performance should be conducted with a specific purpose in mind, such as one of the following
Screening - process to determine if further testing is required or it there is a need for introducing a special program
Program content - used to help teachers plan a unit of work
Student progress - see how well students are proceeding towards objectives
Program evaluation - assess student performance to determine if a program is encouraging skill development
What Variables to Assess
Instructional units that are tied to specific course objectives generally indicate which variables need to be assessed e.g. in a football unit the teacher may wish to assess hand-eye coordination, running and catching ability.
Selecting the Best Test
Review all available tests that will assess the variables in question. The ideal test should be valid, reliable, consistent and objective. You may find several tests that meet all the selection criteria so it is important to determine which of these tests are more feasible to administer i.e. take into consideration time efficiency, group versus individual testing or required knowledge of tester etc.
Payne (1987) suggests that when selecting the appropriate test the assessor will need to be conscious of "norms" being population-specific. Norms describe how large groups of people score in regard to selected variables, however it is important to remember that large groups may vary e.g. Australian children are generally taller than Japanese children and it would be inappropriate to interchange normative values within these two populations.
Preparing Students for Assessment
Consideration should be given to the test environment and the participants physical and psychological needs. Requiring people to perform strange motor tasks, in unfamiliar surrounding, in front of strangers, while sometimes using strange looking equipment can produce a great deal of test anxiety. The test environment should be as comfortable as possible e.g. room temperature and lighting should be appropriate. Testing should be free of unnecessary furniture and free from distractions such as high noise levels and potential hazards to reduce child anxiety of assessment.
1. Don't rush into the assessment.
2. Tell the participants what they will be doing during the assessment - reveal the unexpected.
3. Try not to use the word "test" as it can make people anxious.
4. Give participants an opportunity to explore unfamiliar equipment before assessment begins.
Sharing Assessment Results
Depending on the results and circumstances parents, teachers, and other professionals may need to be informed of the results either by written or verbal communications so that appropriate action can be undertaken i.e. devise appropriate child development program or plan a unit of work.
Payne & Isaacs (1987)