Continuous Assessment (Purpose, Characteristics & Instruments)

Evaluation and assessment have always been cardinal aspects of the teaching and learning process of schools.

However, the strategies that have been employed in assessing students’ learning have proved not to be effective. This gave rise to an emphasis on continuous assessment, a more holistic approach that ensures students’ change as a result of exposure to instruction is monitored step-by-step.

Concept of Continuous Assessment in Education

Continuous assessment is a mechanism whereby the final grading of a student in the cognitive, affective, and psychomotor domains of behavior takes account of all his performances during a given schooling period

It is a process that deliberately allows for periodic assessments throughout the course and takes into account progress toward the goal of the instruction, as well as the success in reaching it. 

4 Characteristics of Continuous Assessment 

The major characteristics of continuous assessment are that it is comprehensive, cumulative, systematic, and guidance-oriented.

1. Comprehensive

The first characteristic of continuous assessment is that it is comprehensive. Unlike the regular assessments done in schools that assess only students’ academic performance (cognitive domain), continuous assessment assesses the cognitive, affective, and psychomotor domains of students.

This also means that it uses various instruments to assess students aside from examinations. They include observation, questionnaires, surveys, psychological tests, sociograms, and so on.

2. Cumulative

Continuous assessment is cumulative in nature. This means that every assessment that is done on students should be in the continuity of what has been done before.

Also, the keeping of the records should be a continuous build-up of the previous records. These data are gathered together to give a true picture of the student’s progress and overall achievement over time.

3. Systematic

The third characteristic of continuous assessment is that it is systematic. This means that the steps, procedures, instruments, and interpretation of data used for assessment must be carefully planned out before the commencement of the assessment.

This way, the teacher doesn’t act haphazardly and we’ll still have a guidance guideline to follow even when the academic calendar makes his or her schedule tight.

Another aspect of being systematic is that the teacher must employ his or her creativity in coming up with the best ways to assess students.

4. Guidance-oriented

The last characteristic of continuous assessment is that it is guidance-oriented. This implies that the aim of assessing the students is not to find the best student in the class or to give awards.

Continuous assessment helps the teacher get enough data about the students that will guide the teachers on how best to assist the student.

Because continuous assessment also assesses the affective domain of students, it gives data to the school guidance counselor and other school guidance personnel on what guidance goals to set in the school and guidance programs to organize.

5 Purposes of Continuous Assessment

The purpose of continuous assessment in schools includes the following

  1. It enables the teacher to give a periodic assessment of the child throughout the course in the cognitive, affective, and psychomotor domains
  2. It aims at getting the truest and most comprehensive picture of each student’s ability in a school setting than could be gotten from a single examination
  3. It serves as a monitoring device giving feedback to the students about their academic performance and also to the teacher about the effectiveness of their teaching
  4. It helps in the easy diagnosis of the strengths and weaknesses of individual students to apply immediate corrective measures
  5. It provides adequate information to the teacher and counselor about individual children so that academic and psychological guidance could be given to the students as may be necessary

3 Techniques of Continuous Assessment

Continuous assessment focuses on assessing the three domains of learning which are the cognitive, affective, and psychomotor domains. Various techniques must therefore be employed in accessing these domains.

Cognitive Domain Assessment Techniques

The techniques used to assess the cognitive domains are targeted at probing students’ intellectual capacity.

It assesses their level of knowledge, comprehension, ability to apply what has been learned, ability to analyze different concepts, ability to synthesize new concepts from learned concepts, and their evaluation or judgment skills.

The techniques used in assessing the cognitive domain include paper and pencil tests, oral questioning, written assignments, and projects.

Affective Domain Assessment Techniques 

Assessing the affective domain of students is aimed at probing into students’ attitudes, interests, values, appreciation, feelings, emotions, mode of adjustment, and so on.

The affective domain is broadly categorized into receiving, responding, conceptualizing, valuing, and characterizing.

Techniques used in assessing the affective domain include the use of questionnaires, oral interviews, inventories, and discussions. 

Psychomotor Domain Assessment Techniques 

Assessing the psychomotor domain is aimed at probing into students’ muscular and motor skills, their ability to manipulate materials, as well as eye-hand coordination.

The primary technique used in assessing the psychomotor domain is observation. The teacher observes the students while they perform various activities to notice students that have unusual ease or difficulty in certain activities.

10 Instruments Used in Continuous Assessment

The following are instruments that are used in continuous assessment 

  1. Test
  2. Questionnaires
  3. Interviews
  4. Checklist
  5. Project 
  6. Observation
  7. Rating scales
  8. Anecdotal records
  9. Assignment
  10. Sociogram

6 Advantages of Continuous Assessment

  1. It gives a true picture of students’ abilities in all domains of learning
  2. As a result of the above, it facilitates appropriate guidance for students
  3. It encourages creativity and innovation in teachers since they have to come up with strategies for assessing different traits
  4. It helps teachers assess their teaching
  5. It discourages exam malpractice since students do not have to accumulate bulky notes to read at the end of the term or session
  6. It helps students identify their strengths and weaknesses early to seek remediation.

5 Disadvantages of Continuous Assessment

  1. Continuous assessment creates work overload for teachers since they have to combine periodic assessments or grading with already existing duties
  2. It creates undue pressure on students when they know that every activity they are engaged in is counting toward their overall grades
  3. It is cost intensive for the administrators of the school who have to get all the instruments needed for effective continuous assessment
  4. It can promote plagiarism among students who know that their assignments have a serious impact on their grades.
  5. Too many assignments may reduce student input in them all thereby creating an untrue picture of the student’s ability.


Despite the presence of these disadvantages, continuous assessment is still a comprehensive way of assessing the effectiveness of teaching and learning. Here are some solutions to the problems affecting continuous assessment.

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