There has been a major shift in the role of assessment in higher education, characterized as a move away from assessment “of” learning to assessment “for” learning. That is, assessment should provide rich information that guides and fosters the learning process instead of merely labeling students as competent or incompetent. To generate and process information, assessment for learning relies on not only summative, but formative assessment approaches such as peer feedback, self-reflection, or group evaluation. So why should you adopt formative assessment, and how can this be integrated quickly and easily at any stage of your course? These questions will be answered in this article.
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Formative assessment has been shown to be highly effective in increasing student learning outcomes, cultivating a learning environment, and nurturing lifelong learning ability.
Continuous feedback is one of the core elements in formative assessment, and it provides valuable insights into learner progress towards the learning objectives. Such insights allow teachers to identify existing gaps and adjust the curriculum, while enabling students to know where they are and what they need to do to reach their goals. When the courses are modified and students have a focus on where they’re aiming, academic achievement is ensured.
By integrating quick knowledge tests in-between lessons, or organizing peer/ group feedback activities, instructors can initiate meaningful interactions at all levels: student–teacher, student–student, and student–content. As formative assessments require constant measurement of learner progress towards the defined learning goals, students are transparent, and motivated to take charge of their own learning.
Since it supports the implementation of authentic assessment, formative assessment is critical to nurture and promote the transfer of skills. Through critical reflection, feedback, and group work, students can develop critical thinking, collaboration, self-regulation, and more.
Good feedback gets students to identify the gap between current and desired performance, thus enhancing their engagement and motivation, as well as facilitating teacher-student dialogue. Formative assessment is an effective approach to generate effective feedback, given its ability to assess higher levels of thinking – analysis and evaluation.
Read more about feedback: Feedback for learning: A comprehensive guide
Here are some of the most common teaching strategies used for formative assessment:
For more formative assessment practices, and detailed breakdown of their pros and cons, you can check this resource.
As courses are moving towards online/hybrid format, it can be challenging to implement formative assessment. Lack of physical contact might result in higher levels of free-riding, lower motivation, and accountability when participating in formative activities. Pedagogical technology can aid teachers in overcoming these barriers, yet it takes a lot of time to master the tools, which adds to the already heavy workload. However, this is not the case when using FeedbackFruits tools, as all our solutions can be grasped and mastered in no time thanks to user-friendly interface. Below you can find how to use several of our tools to design, and integrate formative assessment at any time, stage of your courses.
Within the Interactive Document, the instructor uploads the document to be discussed, then adds questions and discussion points within this by annotating the relevant text parts. Students are required to answer these questions, and participate in the discussions started by the instructor and start one discussion with their peers by creating annotations in relevant parts of the article. The entire set-up time is no more than 10 minutes.
Success story: Dr. Jess Mitchell at Monash University has adopted this tool to encourage students to actively study the case studies.
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