Teaching Pedagogy Evaluation in Social Science

Evaluation in Social Science

Category : Teaching


Evaluation in Social Science



  • Understand the concept of evaluation in social science
  • Engage with the purpose and need of evaluation in social science
  • Know the process and the strategies to evaluate in social science
  • Elaborate the difference between measurement, assessment, and evaluation
  • Explore the challenges of evaluation in social science



What my students have learnt is a very fundamental question every teacher asks to oneself, and everyone gets a different kind of answer to this. There are reasons for this, which we will be discussing later in this chapter, but here, we are more concerned about the processes of evaluation in social science. Important questions that every Social science teacher must ask to oneself are the following: How well do the learners learn? How can they become better? Where do we change the pedagogic practices?

A very common pattern of evaluating the learners is to make them take a test and evaluate their learning and performances. If the learner's score is 60 marks out of 100 marks, then the teacher may think that the learner is above average, but actually this does not provide a complete and accurate picture of the student's learning in Social science because such a standardised test d

oes not help to understand the learner's learning about Social science. Therefore, it is important to evaluate the learner at all the levels and maximum ways of evaluation. It must be a combination of summative and formative evaluation. Along with this, it is also important that the teacher must know all kinds of strategies and ways of evaluation. Such few ways can be assessment of learning, assessment for learning and assessment as learning.

Another important question that can be asked here, when we know that learning and assessment cannot be separated, is why there is a need for specially organised evaluation. It must be a part of teaching-learning process or inherent in the pedagogic practices. In other words, it can be put as 'Do we need to do evaluation at all?'

A more useful question that may be asked here is why do we try to evaluate the knowledge of a learner rather than other aspects such as skills, ability, and so on? Why do we see changes in the evaluation process from time to time? Why is there a need for a common evaluation patternor process, knowing that the entry point in education is different for every individual, and so on.

Evaluation becomes more significant and crucial in social science because the way this is done in schools (very objective) does not match with the nature of social science. In such a situation, questions arise such as what is the role of evaluation in Social science for teaching and learning? What kind of association or relationship does the teacher try to visualise between objectives of social science and outcomes of learning? Does the learner have any role in his/her own evaluation? How is the parent's role seen in evaluation? Does evaluation in social science get restricted to written examination or is it beyond this? How one decides on the criterion to evaluate social science is very important and significant, which needs to be explored.

Largely in India, one can hear that social science students are not doing well. However, the fundamental question is that what does 'doing not good' here mean. Are they talking about test or assessment or measurement or evaluation? All these terms and ideas are used interchangeably, which creates much confusion. This chapter will try to deal with the questions and concerns about the evaluation in social science.



Teaching is collectively defined as planning, instructing, and evaluation. Further in evaluation, we have questions such as how one come to know that he/she has achieved the objectives and what difference they are making? It is important to understand that evaluation is one of the difficult tasks in education. With countless diversities, individual uniqueness, and teacher's own perspectives about evaluation, it has become more challenging. A teacher has to have updated records of each learner to provide a proper feedback. Before we move ahead to discuss about the details of evaluation, three points discussed below are important to know and keep in mind, wherever and whenever we talk about evaluation in social science.


Largely Learner Learns What Is Provided in the Classroom Interaction

It means in most of the cases, learners' learning is dependent on textbooks and interactions taking place during the session. Students also believe that what has not been discussed in the class will not be evaluated. Therefore, their knowledge is, largely, tested rather than their skills, abilities, and capabilities.


Students' Context (Social and Economic) Has a Great Role to Play in Their Learning Outcomes

Family and community are the very influential institutions that play an important role in learner's learning. The association of these two with a school will be beneficial for the learners. Social and economic contexts play an important role not only because poor and low social strata have less intelligence but also low education, and its transition, curriculum, and evaluation are developed according to a particular way that suites few people and rejects the majority. Therefore, it is important for a teacher to understand such a social context.



Learners Learn More When They Are Given Chance for Inquiry in the Community

Learners are more comfortable when they get a chance to learn in the community they live. This  makes them to be associated and developed a sense of attachment not only with the community but also with the concept expected to be learner.

Evaluation is a process which helps to achieve many objectives. Different stakeholders of education may perceive it in different ways, such as for teachers, it is to become aware about their own teaching, which provides a feedback and future action plan. In addition, the teacher will come to know the strengths and weaknesses of their learners, and the learners in turn will also become aware of their own learning and knowledge and what and how they have to move ahead, and so on. In brief, evaluation is needed to accomplish the pedagogic objective, to explore the cause of success and failure, to understand why and where learners are lacking, and what can be done to provide scaffold to them to know how their learning can become progressive and to get a feedback about teacher's own teaching processes.

However, what we call as a good evaluation is a big question to be understood if it cannot be answered. We can engage ourselves in this discussion in two ways: first, understanding traditional way of evaluation and modern way of evaluation. The traditional view perceived evaluation as a mechanism to check the intellectuality of a learner. Its focus was more on subjects, social needs, achievements, and products of learning with emphasis on knowing, understanding, achieving mastery, and mostly convergent thinking. In the traditional view, goals were usually set by the teachers for excellence in the entire process; the teachers' role was to instruct and the learners' role was to flow with what has been said by the teachers and learn the concepts; while the final objective of teaching was to check by measurement and evaluation, the learners' knowledge and provide them placement (Kumar, Sandeep, 2015, p. 157).

However, the modern ways of evaluation are known to be more progressive in different ways than the traditional. It represents assessment processes based on humanistic approach, where the focus is more on the learners, their individual needs, feelings, interests, and so on. It underscores the importance of how a child perceives the world and stresses on the child's behaviour, creativity, and divergent thinking. In the modern view, goals are determined by learners, giving them scope for adjustment and showcase their individuality. The teacher's role becomes more.like that of a motivator or facilitator who does not impose his or her ideas on the learners. Learners take the lead for learning in the form of live practices through active participation. The purpose of testing is to gauge the learning and diagnose the problems faced by learners while guiding them with appropriate inputs (Kumar, Sandeep, 2015, p. 157).



As we have discussed so far, evaluation has been understood in a variety of ways. Here we will understand the very fundamental question, that is, whom to evaluate? However, before we move ahead, we have to understand the fundamental idea behind various terms which have been used interchangeably. These are measurement, assessment, and evaluation.

            1.         Evaluation expressed in number or quantitative terms is known as measurement, such as obtained marks out of some already fixed marks (80 marks out of 100 marks).

          2.         We can obtain information about the learners' performance through a variety of ways. The ways of obtaining this information are called assessment.

3.         Evaluation helps to make decision about the learner's performance and needful pedagogy.

There are specific kinds of function of evaluation: one which is observable and other which in covert or hidden. The observable function may include enabling the learners to know about their performance and learning outcomes, organising collaborative work teams, providing spaces for better learning, motivating learning and achievements, diagnosing problems of learners, changing and setting learning objectives as per the needs of the learners, and changing pedagogic process as per set objectives.

Although the hidden and silent function of evaluation is not visible to all, its effects gradually become visible in learners, but after a substantial time. These functions may include helping and preparing learners for their occupational needs, developing sense of collaboration and its importance, maintaining learner's behaviour and ensuring conformity, and so on.


Need of Evaluation for Learner's Learning in Social Science

If we ask teachers why they evaluate their learners, there will be a common answer from many that they have to grade their learners, but this is a very narrow meaning of evaluation. In its broader sense, it has a different meaning altogether. There is a need to understand the social temperament of learners through evaluation. Largely, the purpose of evaluation in social science should be to explore the social critical abilities of the learner, with which they will be able to analyse the social issues and concerns. Teaching Social science at school has many objectives; therefore, to see the accomplishment of those objectives, evaluation is needed in social sciences.

Evaluation can be used for a variety of purpose. To understand the ability, interest, and capabilities of learner, the teacher uses placement evaluation. Diagnostic evaluation is used to understand the problem areas of children in the learning process. These help teachers to become aware about the issues and challenges a learner faces, which help teachers to make plans for further action. Another kind of evaluation is summative evaluation in which the teacher teaches the entire course and at the end evaluates learner's learning. It provides a summary of the accomplishment level and occurs at the end of the unit of instruction. Normally, it is evaluated by a test taken by all the students after completion of any unit or course. The biggest drawback of

this evaluation is that it does not provide scope for feedback to the learners. On the other hand, formative processes provide good enough space of feedback as it is conducted during the teaching and learning process, where teacher can make a better use of evaluation because it takes place many times on short intervals throughout the year. It not only deals with what learners has learned but also deals with how students are learning and where is the scope of change in pedagogy for betteJ" outcomes.

Other kinds of categorisation of evaluation can be in forms of norm reference evaluation and criterion reference evaluation. Norm reference evaluation is the system most commonly used in schools. It is a system in which an individual child is judged on specific tests or on general performance in relation to the achievement of others, and it can be understood in terms of the normal probability curve. On the other hand, criterion reference evaluation is useful in measuring individual competency. Therefore, it is useful in formative evaluation. It also provides instructional help and enables the progress of the learners over a period of time. That is how norm reference evaluation serves the purpose of scoring and measures the learner's competency relative to each other rather than in an individualised manner. On the other hand, in criterion reference evaluation, each student has to meet the expected standard (Kumar, Sandeep, 2015).

Overall, the goal of evaluation in social science is to provide a need-based feedback to the learners for a better learning. It also helps in various kinds of decision-making. It is expected from evaluation in social science that it evaluates the learners' ideas, values, experiences, and beliefs towards developing a humane society. It also evaluated the learners' understanding about the relationship between a person and a community. It also aims to evaluate the social science temperament which is different from science. The understanding of learners about diversity, citizenship, and other social concerns also need to be evaluated.

The above discussion pointed out the various reasons for which evaluation need to be done in social science, which are as follows:

            1.         Progress in learning: Evaluation in social science is important to see the progress in learners about the various concepts of social science. It also deals with the changing idea over a period of time. How have the learners' ways of argument, rational, and analysis evolved? Hence, to know the learning progress in various dimensions of social science evaluation is needed.

             2.         To become aware about learner's knowledge and abilities: Every teacher would like to know

about the knowledge a child has acquired and what he/she can do. To know this, repeated interaction in the form of dialogue will help teacher to know about learners' ability and knowledge and can facilitate further learning of the learners.

            3.         To ensure everyone's learning: 'It is important for a teacher to make sure no one is left behind in learning processes. Everyone must get a chance of the appropriate environment for learning and getting passed. Evaluation in social science will provide the change to everyone. Because with the help of evaluation, the teacher will be able to know the abilities and scope of improvement in learners and with help of special scaffolding, every learner will become capable in social science.

             4.         Improvement in pedagogy: One of the benefits of evaluation is to provide information to change and improve pedagogy as per the needs of the learners. Teacher will be able to identify the problems of the learners and can change his/her pedagogic processes with the class. Evaluation in social science enables the teacher to deal with the needs of an individual and develop classroom processes accordingly. Teacher will also be able to know that what kinds of strategies do not work with any learner and, hence, there is a need to change it. This change will also improve the abilities of teacher and learners.


            5.         Dealing with diverse needs: In India, we have socially and culturally diverse classroom, where learners share unique social and cultural practices. In one sense, it is good for a Social science class and, on the other hand, it is a challenge for the teacher to deal with all diversities in the class. Evaluation provides a tool to help the teacher to understand the needs of the learner and provide appropriate environment. However, evaluation must be comprehensive which cater to the needs of the learners in the class. A continuous engagement will give this change to teachers and learners to deal effectively with diversity in a positive sense.


              6.         Continuous feedback: Continuous feedback is an essential part of every subject, but for a subject like Social science, it is more important as it deals with everyday practices, where there is no final formula for anything. Feedback provides authentic information about the learners' ability and scope of improvement. This feedback also helps parents to understand the need of their child to facilitate accordingly. Hence, the triangle of teacher, learners, and parents together will change the entire school education in a progressive way.



So far we have seen the meaning of evaluation and some of its methods. Now, we will engage ourselves in understanding the meaning of assessment and its types. In assessment, we obtain information about the learner to say something about his/her abilities and achievements. We can obtain information about learners' performance in a variety of ways. The ways of obtaining this information is called assessment. We can understand assessment in three broad ways:


Assessment of Learning

The purpose of assessment of learning is usually summative and is mostly done at the end of a task or a unit of work. It deals more with the achievement of expected outcomes of the learning process through records, reports, and so on. The outcomes of this assessment become public in terms of symbols, marks, or grades. It is summative in nature and taken at the end of the course. In this assessment, learners have to meet with the set standards and expectations, and it does notprovide space of feedback.


Assessment for Learning

Assessment of learning is particularly associated with the formative and diagnostic methods of evaluation. This assessment takes place during the teaching and learning process, not at the end of teaching. Learners become conscious about what is to be expected, and the continuous feedback provides space for improvement. Portfolios, observation, classroom discussions, and many such ways can be used for this assessment. Continuous feedback is the strength of this assessment.


Assessment as Learning

Assessment as learning provides space to learners to become aware about their own learning. This process is closely associated with meta-cognitive abilities. It helps students to be able to know about themselves as learners. Learners are engaged in reflective processes on a regular basis. They do self-assessment about their abilities and capabilities. This process is mediated by peers, parents, and teachers. The best part of assessment as learning is that learners become aware about their own learning process (Kumar, Sandeep, 2015).



The aims of education is to draw out the capabilities of a person to the fullest so that he or she can become an active, aware, and responsible member of the society; therefore, one of the objectives of education is tp build an attitude, skill, and capability in learners. In this process, evaluation becomes significantly important. However, evaluation is closely associated with classroom practices. School as a social place helps us to arrive at certain principle of educational practice. It is now understood that a child understands and develops a concept in a continuous process especially in social science. Therefore, their understanding must also be evaluated continuously (Kumar, Sandeep, 2015).

The nature of social science is such that continuous evaluation suits best to it. Moreover, descriptive processes of evaluation will be more suitable than objective ones. Continuous and comprehensive evaluation will provide space to understand learners' ability with reference to their meta-cognitive abilities associated with social problems, issues, and concerns. Social science is a discipline where long terms and constant engagement help learners to understand the concept. Therefore, it is important that teacher also evaluate their understanding continuously.

Daily experiences are also an important part of Social science learning, therefore, assessment or evaluation also must be based on real-life context so that an explicit relationship can be understood regarding social aptitude of a child. We believe that all knowledge in social science is socially embedded and has a social context; therefore, it can be understood in the same social context. Continuous comprehensive evaluation will evaluate various essential features with reference to social science, which are as follows:

1.         Construction of knowledge and development of skills in social science.

2.         Understanding of learners' idea, perspective, and perception about social science concepts.

3.         Abilities of healthy and productive social life.

4.         Ability to deal with developmental challenges in Social science from one class to another.

5.         Capabilities of learners to deal various unplanned situation in everyday practices.

            6.         Ability to work in a group, respecting others' perspective, and co-construction of knowledge with dialogue.



There are various ways which may help a teacher to evaluate the learning. Though it is important to understand that there is no hard and fast rule about the strategy, and it may vary as per the need of the context and situation. A teacher may use many ways to evaluate the understanding of learning. Few ways are discussed as follows:


Objective Testing

Multiple choice questions, one word, fill in the blanks, true or false, and so on, comes under the objective type assessment. It means that the learner does not have space or opportunity to express one's own idea because there is a final answer for all the questions and learners have to choose it. We can take examples of multiple choice questions as follows:

Right to Education is a fundamental right of every child between the age 6 and 14 comes under which article of Indian constitution?

(a) Article 21

(b) Article 21 (A)

(c) Article 14

(d) Article 14 (A)

Student has to choose one option out of the four. Such a kind of evaluation does not suite Social science subject, as it does not match its descriptive nature.


Short Question Answer

A teacher can evaluate learners' understanding in Social science by short descriptive questions, where learners have to answer the question in minimum fixed words. These questions demands students to answer the correct or the best answer within the given words limit. Learners are expected to avoid the contradicting or ambiguous statements, where answer needs to be pointed and dear. For example:

Answer the following questions in 50 words.

(a) What are the legislative powers of the president of India?

(b) What are the characteristics of democracy?


Long Question Answer

In Social science, some learning objectives can be tested by long answers only, where learners are expected to share their perspective about any concept, issues, and debates. These types of questions expect learners to create their own response. One needs to know that it is easy to make a long question, but it is difficult to check as it may carry lots of personal understanding. Therefore, either question should give space to subjective interpretation or it should expect fixed perspectives. Examples given below will make it more understandable.

(a) Critically review the issues and challenges of Indian democracy? Support you answer with suitable examples.

This question provides space to the leaner to develop the question based on his/her own understanding, where there is space to develop one's argument based on examples. The question given below does not give much space for personal understanding and expect to answer the question from a given perspective.

(b) Discuss the characteristics of conflict theory given by Karl Marx.

Both the questions are descriptive and long easy type, but the demand and expectation from the learners are quite different. A good Social science teacher will prefer question (a) over question (b), because first question gives more space to check the critical ability of learners.


Project Work

Social science is a subject where everything cannot be evaluated through short- or long-type questions, which are expected to be written in a limited time. Project work provides sufficient time to think and work on any aspect of social science and prepare a project. Learners may decide their own area of project, and it can be given by a teacher also. Project work is a good way of evaluating learners in Social science because it provides the opportunity to engage, explore, elaborate, and explain the concept they chose to work with. Such as the following:

Divide the class into various groups such as History, Geography, Political science, and so on,

and allot them a project, such as for history group.

'Work on different aspects of heritage sites in Delhi'

A group may collect information about when it is built, by whom, why, and so on. The group may also visit the heritage site in person to have first-hand experience and prepare report.


Detailed Assignment

Assignment can be a way to assess the knowledge and the ability of learners in Social sciences. The teacher my provide a critical and analytical assignment which is descriptive in nature and need collaboration of various resources to complete it. The effort one has to put in such an assignment will show his/her ability to engage with the issues of social sciences. An example of such an assignment can be 'How democracy has been conceptualized by various thinkers? Choose any four and evaluate the present situation of Indian democracy'.


Oral Communication

It is a fact that every child cannot express in written form, whereas they can express better orally. Therefore, a teacher must be open for oral tests, where learners are expected to make some presentation or discus about any topic from the subject Social science. The teacher may organize presentation session, group discussion, individual interviews, and so on.



Teacher may ask the learner to organise an exhibition based on the different aspects of social science such as drawing, sculpture, and photographs of any historical visit. This exhibition can be open for the entire school and subject teacher can do evaluation. Such exhibition can be organised for political science and geography also.


Group Work

Group work is one of the best ways of teaching and assessing in Social sciences. Group work can be organised in any form, for example, group assignment, group discussion, group activity, and so on. However, long group discussion is the best way of work where teacher can assess on the spot. Any topic can be allotted to the group, and they may discuss among themselves and then can discuss with other groups. One such method is jigsaw method.



Social science is a discipline with subjective nature. It deals with human life and human relations and relation with various other institutions of the society. However, it is not very easy to evaluate ones understanding in all such areas. Therefore, evaluation in social science has to face many challenges and issues. Some of such challenges are discussed below:



Accountability means someone should be held responsible for meeting the agreed-upon goals and actions. In a school system, who will be responsible for learning and evaluation is not yet fixed. And when we say this, it does not mean to conduct examination, it means the responsibility of learning and taking responsibility. The major organisations such as schools, NCERT, and CBSE are not working in a collaborative manner; rather, they work in a hierarchical manner, such as schoolteachers will be included in textbook writing by NCERT, and if it is done, it is simply a formality. Therefore, who is responsible for what is not decided and if decided, it is segregated.


How to Ensure Minimum Ability Learning

It is important to define and identify the minimum level of ability to be learned. Without such a level, one will not be able to decide what is to be learned and kinds of opportunities need to be provided. Minimum ability does not mean some standardised abilities; rather these will be based on individual uniqueness. However, generally no such ways have been used in the evaluation in social science, rather one standard test is used to evaluate the learners' ability which does not do justice with learners and their abilities.


Prejudices and Biases in Evaluation

Social science as a discipline carry subjectivity, which if used correctively can become the strength or if not, then become a challenge for social science evaluation. Teacher's own biases about any concepts, ideas, and debatable issues may create problems and challenges in the evaluation process of social science. It is also important to understand that culture - fair - test is not a very good option for the subject like Social science. Therefore, a teacher has to be without any bias, but to what extent one can make sure that teacher will leave his/her ideas behind. Therefore, in Social science, a person's bias plays an important role not only in curriculum and teaching but also in evaluation.


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Evaluation in Social Science

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