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Formative Assessment. Workshop at Qatar University April 27-28, 2009 Dr. Karma El Hassan OIRA, AUB. Outline. Assessment for Learning Purposes of Assessment Principles and uses of formative assessment Definition Steps & cycle Key features Role of effective feedback

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formative assessment

Formative Assessment

Workshop at Qatar University

April 27-28, 2009

Dr. Karma El Hassan


  • Assessment for Learning
  • Purposes of Assessment
  • Principles and uses of formative assessment
    • Definition
    • Steps & cycle
    • Key features
  • Role of effective feedback
  • Formative assessment tools/techniques/strategies.
  • Classroom assessment techniques (CATs).
  • Use of formative assessment results for improvement
assessment for learning
Assessment for Learning
  • A process of collecting information and data to
    • Provide feedback for instructors to
      • improve teaching methods
      • evaluate extent of attainment of goals/objectives
      • determine extent of student learning
      • Measure efficacy of teaching methods
    • Provide feedback to students on
      • extent of their learning
    • Provide students with
      • Grades
      • Motivation
      • Ability to diagnose their strengths & weaknesses
curriculum instruction assessment
Curriculum, Instruction, Assessment
  • The three primary components of any course are
    • the curriculum (the "content"),
    • the instructional methods used to deliver the curriculum, and
    • the assessment techniques with which our success in attaining course goals is evaluated
  • These three components are bound together by the goals set for the course.
  • The importance of setting course goals--articulating them and writing them down--cannot be overstated
course development road map6
Course Development Road Map
  • Formalize course goals, then "directions" are as follows:
    • translate goals into Measurable Student Outcomes
    • determine Levels of Expertise required to achieve outcomes
    • select both Curriculum and Classroom Assessment Techniques
    • choose and implement Instructional Methods
    • conduct Assessment and evaluate--were measurable student outcomes realized?
    • Use results to provide feedback to students and to improve learning
characteristics of effective assessment in higher education angelo cross 1993
Characteristics of Effective Assessment in Higher Education (Angelo & Cross, 1993)
  • Focuses on the processes as well as on the products of instruction.
  • Assesses what we teach – and what we expect students to learn.
  • Actively involves both teachers and students.
  • Uses multiple and varied measures.
  • Provides information for improving learning.
  • Is carried out at various key points.
  • Provides useful, timely feedback
  • Is an intrinsically educational activity
purposes of assessment
Purposes of Assessment
  • Educational assessments serve following purposes:
    • To support learning (formative)
    • To certify achievements of learners (summative)
    • To diagnose learning difficulties
    • To evaluate quality of programs, curricula, institutions, etc.
formative assessment10
Formative Assessment
  • Set of skills and activities undertaken by instructors to provide feedback to students to enhance their motivation and learning.
  • Formative assessment helps support the expectation that all children can learn to high levels and counteracts the cycle in which students attribute poor performance to lack of ability and therefore become discouraged and unwilling to invest in further learning.
  • Promotes a culture of success not clouded by talk about ability, competition, and comparison with others.
formative assessment steps
Formative Assessment Steps
  • Formative assessment involves establishing
    • Where learners are in their learning. Engineering effective
      • Classroom discussions
      • Tasks

To elicit evidence of learning.

    • Where they are going. Clarifying
      • learning intentions
      • Criteria for success
    • What needs to be done to get there.
      • Identifying gap
      • Providing feedback that moves learners forward.
      • Make necessary instructional adjustments
formative assessment cycle

Feedback to Students

    • Immediate
    • Specific
  • Instructional Correctives
    • Next Steps
    • Student Activities
  • Evaluations of Student Progress
    • Informal Observation
    • Questioning
    • Student Self-Evaluations
    • Peer Evaluations
Formative Assessment Cycle
key features of formative assessment
Key Features of Formative Assessment
  • Blends assessment and instruction, therefore assessment for learning.
  • Linked to a learning progression that clearly articulates the sub goals of the ultimate learning goal.
  • Essential components include:
    • Clear targets and criteria for success
    • High quality feedback linked to goals & criteria for success
    • Ongoing interaction with students regarding learning goals, outcomes, achievement, and adjustment in learning activities.
    • Student engagement in self- and peer-assessment.
      • In self-assessment, students monitor their own learning against criteria
      • In peer-assessment, students analyze each other’s performance against the criteria and provide constructive feedback to each other. Act as Instructional resources for one another.
    • Use of results to adjust teaching
effective feedback
Effective Feedback
  • Feedback given as part of formative assessment helps learners
    • become aware of any gaps that exist between their desired goal and their current knowledge, understanding, or skill and
    • guides them through actions necessary to obtain the goal .
  • Most helpful type of feedback
    • Is linked to learning outcomes & criteria for success
    • Focuses on task not the student
    • provides specific comments about errors
    • provides specific suggestions for improvement, and
    • encourages students to focus their attention thoughtfully on the task, the process, and learning strategies rather than on simply getting the right answer.
effective feedback15
Effective Feedback
  • Use reflective non-evaluative descriptive feedback that
    • Is immediate
    • gives details of why answers are correct or wrong.
    • tells learner what has been achieved,
    • specifies a better way of doing something,
    • provides prompts to enable improvements
    • gets learner to suggest ways to improve.
    • describes /demonstrates acceptable performance
    • Identifies strengths & weaknesses (vs. like/dislike)
    • Is tailored to particular student
  • Feedback can be public or private, oral or written.
effective feedback16
Effective Feedback
  • “Formative assessment does make a difference and it is thequality, not just the quantity, of feedback that merits attention. By quality of feedback, we have to understand not just the technical structure of feedback (accuracy, comprehensiveness, appropriateness) but also its accessibility to the learner (as a communication), its catalytic and coaching value, and its ability to inspire confidence and hope”.

Black and William (1998).

formative assessment techniques
Formative Assessment Techniques
  • Main means of conducting FA:
    • teacher observation
    • classroom questions and discussion
    • analysis of tests and homework
    • Assignments, projects, games & simulations, interviews/conferencing.
  • Choice of tasks for classroom work and homework is important.
    • Justified in terms of the learning aims that they serve,
    • Novel and varied in interest, offer reasonable challenge, help students develop short-term self-referenced goals, focus on meaningful aspects of learning.
    • Best work when opportunities for pupils to communicate their evolving understanding are built into the planning.
    • This will initiate the interaction through which formative assessment aids learning.
fa strategies
FA Strategies
  • Invite students to discuss their thinking about a question or topic in pairs or small groups, then ask a representative to share the thinking with the larger group (sometimes called think-pair-share). 
  • Present several possible answers to a question, then ask students to vote on them. 
  • Ask all students to write down an answer, then read a selected few out loud.
  • Have students write their understanding of concepts before and after instruction. 
  • Ask students to summarize the main ideas they've taken away from a lecture, discussion, or assigned reading. 
fa strategies19
FA Strategies
  • Have students complete a few questions at the end of instruction and check answers. 
  • Interview students individually or in groups about their thinking as they analyze cases. 
  • Assign brief, in-class writing assignments.
  • Frequent short tests are better than infrequent long ones. 
  • New learning should be tested within about a week of first exposure. 
  • Portfolios may be used to analyze growth and progress over time.
questioning as fa
Questioning as FA
  • Ask questions that require students to think, explain, and justify their answers and not those involving factual information.
  • Allow ‘wait’ time after asking question giving students time to respond and to think.
  • Try to involve all of learners in response (refer to previous strategies)
  • Some examples of questioning level
    • Is it always true.....?
    • How many different ways can you find to ...?
    • What is same and what is different about ....?
    • What is wrong with this statement?
    • What other information is needed to solve this problem?
classroom assessment techniques cats
Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATS)
  • CATs are generally simple, non-graded, in-class activities designed to give instructor and students useful feedback on the teaching-learning process as it is happening.
  • A good strategy for using CATs is the following:
    • Decide what you want to assess about your students’ learning from a CAT.
    • Choose a CAT that provides this feedback, and can be implemented easily in your class.
    • Explain the purpose of the activity to students, and then conduct it.
    • After class, review the results, determine what they tell you about your students’ learning, and decide what changes to make, if any.
    • Let your students know what you learned from the CAT and how you will use this information.
variations of cats
Variations of CATs
  • Background Knowledge Probe
  • Minute paper
  • Muddiest point.
  • Retellings and/or one-sentence summary
  • Pros and con lists
  • Think pair share
  • Response chaining
1 background knowledge probe
1. Background Knowledge Probe
  • A sort, simple questionnaire given to students at the start of a course, or before introduction of a new unit, lesson, or topic.
  • A few focused questions about concepts students need to know to succeed in a course.
  • It is designed to uncover students’ pre-conceptions.
  • Data can be helpful in planning subsequent sessions and in identifying supplementary resources or assistance that might be needed.
  • A variation is misperception check.
2 minute paper
2. Minute Paper
  • The instructor simply stops class two or three minutes early and asks students to respond briefly to the following two questions:
    • "What was the most important thing you learned during this class" and
    • "What important question remains unanswered for you?"
  • A quick and extremely easy way to collect information on what students have learned though focusing mostly on recall.
  • Helps students focus more effectively during lectures, if used repeatedly.
3 muddiest point
3. Muddiest Point
  • A simple and quick CAT to assess where students are having difficulties.
  • Asking students to jot down a quick response to one question:
    • What was the muddiest (most unclear, most confusing) point in the lecture, reading, assignment, etc.?
  • Instructor can make use of responses
    • to focus next class session and
    • To identify which points to emphasize
4 retellings and or one sentence summary
4. Retellings and/or One-sentence Summary
  • Retellings are new accounts or adaptations of a text that allow students to consider information and then summarize, orally, what they understand about this information.
  • Elements in retelling:
    • Key Ideas
    • Details
    • Sequence
    • Conclusion
    • Delivery
4 retellings and or one sentence summary27
4. Retellings and/or One-sentence Summary
  • Students are asked to summarize a large amount of information into a one-sentence summary
  • Quick and easy way to assess students’ ability
    • to organize information
    • summarize their understanding
    • Express ideas in their own language
5 pros and con lists
5. Pros and Con Lists
  • Students create a list of pro and con outcomes to a question or situation presented by the instructor.
  • Students demonstrate depth of knowledge by identifying two sides of an issue.
  • Helps students develop analytical skills and Promotes higher-order thinking
  • Particularly useful in humanities, social science, or in applied fields where multiple solutions to problems are possible.
6 think pair share
6. Think Pair Share
  • Think-Pair-Share and Write-Pair-Share
  • Think or write about your answer individually.
  • Pair with a partner and discuss your answers.
  • Share your answer (or your partner’s answer) when called upon
7 response chaining
7. Response Chaining
  • Response chaining begins by asking a question to which a specific student responds.
  • The instructor then asks the class as a whole to vote regarding the accuracy of the student’s response using three options:

Correct, Partially Correct, or Incorrect.

  • The instructor selects a student who has voted correctly.
  • If the original student’s response was incorrect, the instructor asks the newly selected student to make the necessary corrections in the first student’s response.
  • If the original response was partially correct, the instructor asks the newly selected student to identify what was correct about the response and what was incorrect and provide the missing correct information
use of formative assessment data
Use of Formative Assessment Data
  • Once you have collected the students' responses, sort and analyze the data.
  • Look for any patterns. What is the most common response?
  • Identify where students are in the learning goals’ progression, and that indicates NEXT STEPS.
  • Share at least some part of that analysis with your students.
  • Initiate instructional adjustments like
    • Reteaching and scaffolding
    • Trying alternative instructional approaches
    • Offering more opportunities for practice & extending experience
    • Promoting dialogue, communication and reflection.
last thoughts
Last Thoughts
  • Implementing formative assessment requires fundamental changes & presents a challenge.
  • Two basic issues: Nature of teacher’s beliefs
    • about learning
    • About potential of students’ abilities
  • Improving formative assessment would impact several essential elements:
    • the quality of teacher/pupil interactions,
    • help for pupils to take active responsibility for their own learning,
    • the particular help needed to move pupils out of the trap of "low achievement," and
    • the development of the habits necessary for all students to become lifelong learners
  • Avoid the only real danger in classroom assessment--too much data and not enough time or experience to know what to do with those data.