Saturday, May 23, 2015

EDUC 7726: Week 7 Assessment with technology

Computer-based assessment is in the news. Parents across the nation are exempting their children from participating in the annual high-stakes testing ritual. Tests like the SBAC were supposed to correct the flaws of the high stakes tests that were generated after the testing for NCLB created environments that "teach to the test." According to chapter 7 of the Gordon Commission report, these new tests are designed to assess higher-order thinking, and experts are working on making the tests more effective.

Little focus has been paid on the day-to-day formative assessments which make the most impact on a child's learning. Allowing students to use the electronic devices that have become like human body parts, teachers can quickly assess their students' understanding in engaging  ways.
- Apps that act as games, like Kahoot and Plickers, can quickly pinpoint information gaps.
- Digital tools that can handle more thoughtful classroom response, like Socrative and Lino, can draw out a student who is unlikely to speak out in a classroom discussion. Others can learn from and about fellow students and the teacher gets real-time feedback.
- Reflection is a key component of learning. Blogging and mind-mapping tools can demonstrate student learning to a teacher in a way that multiple choice cannot.

This timely formative assessment is important. Teachers use this data to inform instruction and bring their students to deeper level of learning. Like traditional instruction, not every digital tool works well in every situation. An instructor should not be afraid to try new digital tools and "change up" their assessments. Some things will work. Some will fail. There are online learning communities where teachers post articles and ideas for using digital tools in the classroom for instruction and assessment. It takes time and practice, and with persistence, it will add a new dimension (and more data) to instruction.

Studies show that "effective formative assessment causes large improvements in learning" 
Black and Wiliam (1998)

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