What Is a Diagnostic Essay?

Checking and evaluation of students’ knowledge, abilities, and skills is an important structural component of the learning process, and in accordance with the principles of systematic, consistent, and strong teaching it must be exercised throughout the whole learning period.

Evaluation of knowledge and skills of students is an important link in the learning process, from the correct formulation of which the success of learning largely depends. In the methodological literature, it is generally accepted that evaluation is the so-called “feedback” between the teacher and the student, the stage of the learning process when the teacher receives information about the effectiveness of teaching the subject. According to this, there are the following goals of evaluation of students’ knowledge and skills:

  • Diagnosis and correction of knowledge and skills of students.
  • Accounting the effectiveness of a separate stage of the learning process.
  • Definition of final learning outcomes at different levels.

There are many ways to evaluate students’ knowledge and diagnostic essay is one of them.

The Essence of the Concept

Dependence of the productivity of training on the number, quality, completeness, timeliness (efficiency), depth, objectivity of control is the general pattern of the didactic process. In the current theory, there is still no established approach to the definition of the concepts of evaluation, control, checking, and others associated with them. Often they mix, interchange, and are used in the same or in different ways.

The common generic concept is control. Control is the identification, measurement, and evaluation of knowledge and skills of students.

Identification and measurement is called testing. Therefore, checking is an integral component of control, the main didactic function of which is to provide feedback between the teacher and students, obtaining of objective information about the degree of mastering the educational material by the teacher, timely identification of shortcomings and gaps in knowledge. The purpose of the check is to determine not only the level and quality of the student’s training but also the volume of the latter’s educational work. In addition to checking, the control includes evaluation as a process and evaluation as a result of the audit.

Quantitative evaluation of knowledge, abilities, and skills acquired by students is expressed in points (grades), while the qualitative evaluation is expressed in the evaluative judgments and conclusions of the teacher, which describe the merits and demerits of students’ answers.

Evaluation of knowledge, skills, and abilities is considered in didactics as a process of determining the quantitative and qualitative indicators of the theoretical and practical training of trainees for existing assessment requirements.

The basis for evaluating the student’s progress is the results of control work. At the same time, both qualitative and quantitative indicators of students’ performance are taken into account. Methods of control are ways by which the effectiveness of the educational and cognitive activity of students and the pedagogical activity of the teacher is determined. Methods of control include diagnostic essay, tests, writing abstracts, taking part in discussions, etc.

Functions of Grades

Grade, like all other components of the learning process, performs certain functions. There are following functions of the grade:

  • Educational function. The essence of educational, or developing, functions is in the fact that when performing control tasks, students improve and systematize the knowledge they have gained. It is believed that lessons where students apply knowledge and skills in a new situation or explain physical phenomena contribute to the development of speech and thinking, attention and memory of schoolchildren.
  • Training function. It is concomitant but it can also be dominant when, for example, the teacher seeks to train individual students to work systematically, tries to influence their psychological characteristics (develop will, memory, etc.), stimulating them by the grade, when manifesting excessive self-confidence is a more rigorous approach to evaluation.
  • Orienting function. It orients the students and the teacher based on the results of their work, supplying the teacher with information about the achievement of the goals of instruction by individual students and the class as a whole. The results of tests help the teacher direct the activities of students to overcome the shortcomings and gaps in their knowledge. They help the students identify and correct their own mistakes. In addition, the results of the test inform the management of the school and parents of the success of the educational process.
  • Stimulating function. It is known that students specially prepare for the test, exam, and so on. In the presence of the teacher, all students perform the prescribed exercises. The written works are given more attention if they are checked. In short, the presence or expectation of control stimulates students’ learning activities and is an additional motive for their learning activities.

It goes without saying that without the information on the status of the students’ knowledge (feedback) it is impossible to competently manage the educational process, and without the systematic work of students, one cannot form their skills and abilities. The function of the grade is realized only by the teacher.

Traditional Methods of Evaluation of Students’ Knowledge

When checking the quality of academic progress, it is necessary to identify how the main objectives of training are being addressed. It is also important how the students relate to learning, whether they are constantly working or from time to time, and so on.

  • Everyday observation of students’ learning activities. This method allows the teacher to get an idea of how students behave in class, how they perceive and comprehend the material, what kind of memory they have, to what extent they show intelligence and independence of practical skills.
  • Oral interrogation. The essence of this method is that the teacher asks questions to students about the material and encourages them to respond. This method is the most common in the verification and evaluation of knowledge.
  • Written test. The essence of this method is that the teacher distributes to students tasks, for which they give written answers within 10–12 minutes. A written survey allows you to assess the knowledge of all students in one lesson. This is an important positive aspect of this method. Students might also be asked to write a diagnostic essay, which also helps to check the level of students’ knowledge.
  • Tests. This is a very effective method of testing and evaluating the knowledge, skills, and abilities of students, as well as their creative capabilities. The essence of this method is that after passing certain topics or sections of the curriculum, the teacher conducts a written or practical examination and evaluation of students’ knowledge, abilities, and skills. During tests, a number of didactic requirements must be observed.
  • Check of home works. To check and evaluate the progress of students, it is very important to check the performance of their homework. It allows the teacher to study the attitude of students to the study, the quality of learning the material, the presence of knowledge gaps, as well as the degree of independence when doing homework.

Modern Methods of Knowledge Evaluation

In addition to traditional evaluation methods, like writing a diagnostic essay, there are modern methods that help evaluate students’ knowledge of the subject. They include:

  • Programmed control. It is also called an alternative method or a method of choice. The essence of this method is that the student is offered questions, each of which is given three or four answers, but only one of them is correct. The student’s task is to choose the right answer. Several similar questions and answers can be given in class simultaneously to all students on separate sheets of paper or using a computer, which allows them to check their knowledge within a few minutes. This is the positive side of the method of programmed control.
  • Rating system for assessing the quality of the learned material. The application of the rating is a system that organizes the educational process and actively influences its effectiveness. The rating system takes into account all active activity of students, associated with the acquisition of knowledge, skills, and other indicators that form the personal qualities of students. The evaluation obtained with the test is more differentiated.
  • Testing. The greatest objectivity is inherent in the grades obtained by the method of a written test. Tests should be pre-tested on a fairly large group of children. The more there are tests, the more reliable the evaluation of knowledge is.