Activity 4: Formative Assessment

Blog posts and concepts maps are great tool to summarize reconstructed thoughts of students. In the internet-connect environment, students connect to information network and find relevant information. They “engage their social-connectedness schema in a set of behaviors that I describe as “link, lurk, and lunge”: Students link up with others who have the knowledge they need; they lurk, watching others who know how do to what they want to do; and they lunge, jumping in to try new things often without seeking guidance beforehand (Brown 2000). Their interaction with other creates more knowledge. Moreover, available of the reconstructed thoughts online leads to social evolution and increase our collective wisdom as mankind.

I consider following assessment thoughts very important in relation to my assessment strategies.

  • The purpose of all tasks in classroom should be to improve learning capacity of leaners.
  • Mistakes are essential for learning
  • Assessment is an ongoing, continuous process.

It is very important for a teacher to monitor student performance and provide feedback for effective learning to take place. Monitor students’ learning by utilizing pre- and post-assessments, providing timely and informative feedback, and reteaching material to students who did not achieve mastery. (Pamela D. Tucker and James H. Stronge). Moreover, “This is the value of the teacher, who looks at a face and says there’s something behind that and I want to reach that person, I want to influence that person, I want to encourage that person, I want to enrich, I want to call out that person who is behind that face, behind that color, behind that language, behind that tradition, behind that culture. I believe you can do it. I know what was done for me.” (Maya Angelou). Teacher should create a dialogue with student about his achievement and provide route and mechanism to develop. Further consideration of assessment divides it into two main categories based on the purpose.

“Primary purpose for grading . . . should be to communicate with students and parents about their achievement of learning goals .. .Secondary purposes for grading include providing teachers with information for instructional planning, . . .and providing teachers, administrators, parents, and students with information for . ..  placement of students. (Brookhart, 2004)

It is important to note that assessment is just not to record numerical marks in a grade book to decide failure or success of learners. One of the main goals should be diagnose understanding and shortcomings of learners and suggest route to success by flaming the successes of learners.  “Firm evidence shows that formative assessment is an essential component of classroom work and that its development can raise standards of achievement.  …. There are many ‘inputs’ to the classroom (the black box) …. but it is up to teachers to make the inside work better ….to ultimately help create quality outputs or to raise levels of achievement ….Formative assessment is at the heart of effective teaching” ( “Inside the Black Box:  Raising Standards Through Classroom Assessment”) .  Assessment of learning helps teach identify prior learning and help him adjust his teaching according to that. Dialogue with students provides personalized experience and they understand that teacher cares and recognizes their success.  Students need to get a clear and loud message that “Failure and success are not episodes, they are trajectories.” (Kanter, 2004)

Failure to provide affective feedback will deteriorate learners’ self-efficacy and consequently they will put fewer efforts. “Expectations about the likelihood of eventual success determine the amount of efforts people put in. Those who are convinced that they can be successful in carrying out the actions required for successful outcome – who have the self-efficacy- are likely to try harder and persist longer when they face obstacles. (Kanter, 2004). Moreover, it is not mistake that cause winners to lose, it is panic. Panic is sudden, anxious feeling of loss of control and panicking can make a small fumble wore, by causing people to lose their heads and forget to think clearly. (Kanter, 2004)

Ruth Sutton advocates backward strategies in lesson design. She advises that teachers should identify one big goal for their lesson. Then they should identify evidence of learning. That should help to plan assessment activities to achieve that evidence. Finally, the teaching strategies should be designed to teach knowledge and skills to make them successful in those assessment activities. This backward planning is like planning chess game where one thinks before every move. Once this is done then things like homework can be assigned with different purpose. “Repurposing homework essentially means solidifying it as a formative exercise that focuses more on the process than the final result and on feedback for improvement rather than the accumulation of points and percentages. Repurposing homework is about introducing (or reinvigorating) the notion that practice is an essential part of learning: we focus on feedback and growth, (Schimmer, 2016)

Formative feedback on assessment for learning makes the biggest different for students. It most important for creating a dialogue with leaners and for providing personalized learning experience. An affective feedback should be specific and constructive. Teacher should identify shortcoming and give feedback precisely to improve learning. Moreover, feedback should also suggest next step to improve. I agree with Kerrie’s idea that “assessment provides valuable information that we can use to determine the various knowledge and performance gaps that exist and we can then begin to consider the next “best steps”.” So assessment for learning helps us diagnose students’ shortcoming. At the same time, it also enlightens us about our teaching practices.  We should adjust our teaching to take into account results of assessment. (  It should be about as fewer points as possible because if there are many things to improve then learner will be frustrated and overwhelmed with his shortcomings. All this can deteriorate his morale. Moreover, feedback should be connected to clear shared criteria. This will encourage students to involve themselves in complex mental operations. In addition, students should be able to self-assess themselves based on the criteria. Another important factor for effective feedback is timeliness. Teacher should provide feedback as soon as possible so that students have enough time to act upon and improve. If it is delayed then students will have moved on to another task and their priorities will have changed. Thus feedback will become less effective.  Teacher should use formative feedback to create dialogue with students and should follow through next time to see how well learner has utilized the feedback. Moreover, feedback should be descriptive rather than evaluative.

Formative Assessment