Formative Assessment

Formative assessment is an important element in education, and is believed to be one of the most important elements of a pedagogical plan. Briefly, formative assessment is how you and your students know whether they are hitting the mark you set for them, and hopefully also feedback on how they might adjust.

Technology gives us new opportunities to engage in formative assessment. Because we can review student work as they are doing it we can keep close tabs on whether they are understanding key concepts, and address those either through comments or in the next class. Speed of feedback has been shown to have more impact than clear guidance in formative assessment, and technology can increase the speed with which students get feedback on their work.

Students also have the opportunity to view the work of others, and evaluate whether their work is measuring up to that of the other students. Understanding what a model implementation looks like is often more useful than corrective feedback: one of the key questions every student asks is “Is this enough?” and looking at the work of peers can help answer that.

For many subjects peer assessment is a good option. In most cases, students should be given clear guidelines about what to address in the student work they are reviewing. In general, shorter feedback received from multiple students is better than longer feedback from a single student, since there is always a risk that students will discount feedback on their work as “one student’s opinion”.

Getting feedback from multiple students helps students overcome "Just Your Opinion, Man" syndrome.
Getting feedback from multiple students helps students overcome “Just Like, Your Opinion, Man” syndrome.

Next: Examples of Formative Assessment with Technology

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