Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Formative Assessment, Feedback and Technology

I've been learning about "formative assessment" and feedback in my graduate assessment class and it occurred to me that technology is perfect for formative assessment and it's corresponding feedback. 

What is formative assessment?  It's something teachers have been doing forever, but now it has a name. 
Formative assessment is gathering evidence of learning by asking questions, observing and giving feedback to students to change both their understanding and to give information to the teacher about what needs to be retaught or what in the curriculum needs to be redesigned.  As opposed to summative assessment, where the feedback is after the fact, formative assessment incorporates immediate, or almost immediate, feedback to the students, so they can revise their work before they end up going in the wrong direction. 

Technology can help give feedback to students in a number of ways.  The interactive quizzes that can be done on a computer, tablet or interactive white board can give immediate feedback to the students on the accuracy of their answers.  Many of the apps or activities will not move on until the student gives the correct answer, or they at least tell them what the correct answer is, and also may tell them why an answer is incorrect.  

But I am also referring to the personal interactivity between the teacher and the student.  In a creative writing class for example, the teacher may not be able to read every student's journal and get comments back to the student during class.  But if they were using a blogging tool to write their journal, the teacher could read and comment on it soon after it is published.  Then the student can read the comment as soon as they can get onto the Internet, either later at school, or at home later that day, if they have Internet access.  Many kids have phones or tablets that access the Internet as well.  The blog site could even send an email notification of the comment, if that option is set up.  

As we venture further into the 21st century, we need to employ 21st century skills.  The argument that it engages the students is one good reason for using technology in school.  But it also can help streamline the teacher's work and improve communication between the student and the teacher.

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