Digital formative assessment can foster student success
Assessment is often seen both by teachers and students as something cumbersome and separate from the learning process. Teachers may not see how to make assessment an integral and beneficial part of learning, particularly if they are used to ‘teaching to the test’, or feel they lack time to do it and want to move on to other topics in the curriculum. Yet, formative assessment can provide a bridge between learning and assessment, and digital tools can support formative assessment practices.
Why is (digital) formative assessment important for your schools?
Research indicates that digital formative assessment (DFA) has great potential to provide this bridge between learning and assessment and thereby support more powerful student learning, yet currently it is not widespread in schools in Europe. Classroom studies have measured formative assessment in ICT-based environments and found that when effectively used, it may have a significant impact on student achievement (e.g. in English: Bhagat & Spector, 2017; Faber, Luyten & Visscher, 2017; Wall et al. 2006).
Digital formative assessment provides timely feedback and helps students to become more autonomous learners.
What other benefits does it provide? These short videos from Dylan Wiliam and Assess@Learning partners show what they are.
How can digital tools support formative assessment?
Already in 2011, John Hattie (video in English), University of Melbourne, in his widely cited review of meta-reviews (in English) in education research, found significant positive effect sizes for a range of formative assessment methods in ICT-based environments (e.g. formative evaluation). In the Assess@Learning literature review (in English) (2019) Janet Looney highlights different ways in which digital tools can enhance formative assessment practices. According to research, digital tools can potentially:
automate processes and save time for the teacher
make the learning process more visible to teachers, students and parents
help to better understand students’ learning
allow for rapid (real-time) feedback
help predict and adapt learning processes
facilitate the scaffolding of next steps for learning at an appropriate level of difficulty
What is (digital) formative assessment?
Given these benefits, what exactly is (digital) formative assessment and what do you as a policy maker need to know about it?
In this video, Dylan Wiliam and Assess@Learning project partners explain what (digital) formative assessment learning is. It is only through assessing that we can find out whether what we did as teachers resulted in the understanding that we hoped for in our students, according to Dylan Wiliam. Do you agree, and do you want to know more?
For definitions of terms used here and elsewhere, check out the glossary.
What makes a teaching practice a formative one?
Formative and summative assessment for student success
Formative assessment can therefore benefit students. Nevertheless, summative assessment (typically graded tests) is still important. Both can go hand in hand to foster student success. Formative assessment can help students prepare for graded, high-stakes, tests. This video shows how.
How can teachers implement DFA efficiently?
As seen in the previous sections, digital formative assessment can significantly enhance student motivation and achievement, but this can only happen if teachers implement such practices efficiently.
Ethical considerations around digital assessment
More data are used to make decisions – with or without human intervention – on the next steps for student learning. While this opens exciting new possibilities, it also raises ethical questions such as ‘Is every possible scenario desirable?’, ‘Do teachers and parents need to be able to see everything a student has done online and when (e.g. when a student completes homework)?’, and ‘What rules should govern the use of Artificial Intelligence in schools?’
In this video, Eric Welp, advisor at Kennisnet, Netherlands provides useful hints on where to start with supporting your schools to use digital tools in a safe and ethical way. There is more in this Case Study Information security and privacy in Dutch schools.
How to foster DFA practices in your schools?
Having seen the potential of DFA for student learning, what it actually is, and how teachers can implement DFA practices efficiently, how can you as a policy maker support schools to innovative their assessment practices? Some concrete ideas and inspiration are set out in the videos and infographic below.
Are you still not entirely sure what digital formative assessment (DFA) is all about? – Then check out this short video before moving on to how you as a policy maker can support your schools.
Which of the ideas on how to foster digital formative assessment practices in your schools do you already practise, or think could be suitable in your context? In the video above, Assess@Learning partners share what they think is important to successfully implement digital formative assessment in schools.
Discover the Assess@Learning toolkit
To share your knowledge on how digital formative assessment can foster student success with other policy makers, invite them to join this toolkit via this link.
To get in touch with the Assess@Learning project to know more, please contact us at email@example.com