Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Technology Enhanced Formative Assessment for 21st Century Learning

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Technology Enhanced Formative Assessment for 21st Century Learning

Article excerpt

Introduction

The importance of formative assessment in student learning is discussed at various levels in the context of teaching and learning environments. With the known purpose of assessment in education being to support learning, some educational reforms clearly recognized the significance of formative assessments and feedback (Black & William, 2006; CDC & HKEAA, 2007). Brown, Hui, Yu, and Kennedy (2011) also have highlighted the importance of teacher cooperation and staff development to initiate the changes to formative assessment and feedback. In Hattie's (2009; 2012) research on visible learning, formative assessment was rated as one of the most effective methods to encourage student achievement. Wiliam, Lee, Harrison and Black (2004) also found that integration of formative assessment into teaching resulted in enhanced student performance. Bulunuz et al. (2016) indicated that formative assessment creates opportunities to promote the development of student's skills of explaining, interpreting and reasoning. Narciss (2008) provided a comprehensive overview of the benefits of timely and informative feedback (i.e., formative assessment). The shift in pedagogy towards dynamic problem-based and inquiry-based learning is gaining increasing attention as a means to support the development of 21st century skills (Lu, Bridges, & Hmelo-Silver, 2014; P21, n.d.), and this creates a need for changes in formative assessments. The opportunities to use technology to support formative assessment for learning have also grown with the development of new learning technologies (Johnson et al., 2016; Woolf, 2010). For example, recent review identified how various technological affordances are being integrated into the next generation of problem-based designs, to enhance both online and face-to-face interactions and collaborative knowledge building (Jin & Bridges, 2014; Narciss, 2008; Roskos & Neuman, 2012). This paper discusses some of the current issues with formative assessment and considers how the tools and technologies that are available can develop new formative assessment practices to support 21st century learning (P21, n.d.). The paper concludes with trends, directions and general conclusions emphasizing the significance of formative assessment along with recommendations for future research and development in this area consistent with the emphasis on 21st century skills and new technologies.

Formative assessments and current issues

Davis (2015) highlights the importance of formative assessment, as it is critical to a teacher's ability to adapt lessons and check for student understanding. Under the umbrella term of assessment, formative assessment refers to the appraisals of student performance intended to help learners attain intended goals as distinguished from formative evaluation, which refers to judgments about how to improve program effectiveness as an effort evolves over time (OECD, 2005). Formative assessment is also defined as assessment for learning (Bennett, 2011) because the emphasis is on forming judgments about learners' progress that then affects the subsequent flow of instruction, whereas summative assessments have been viewed as focusing on making judgments about how well individuals did at the end of an instructional sequence, which might be considered assessments of learning (Ecclestone, 2010). Because formative assessments, in the form of timely and informative feedback, are aimed at helping learners improve, formative assessments can be considered a form of learning or assessments as learning (Spector, 2015). According to Sadler (1989) formative assessments involve making judgments about the quality of students' responses and using those judgements immediately to guide and improve students' understandings and skills. In the current context of teaching and learning, Ecclestone (2010) argued that formative assessment or assessment for learning is now considered an integral component to good teaching, student motivation, engagement and higher levels of achievement, and that view has been supported by many others (see, for example, Johnson et al. …

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