March 17, 2016
3 Timely Tips
A comprehensive formative assessment system involves many components. Information obtained through informal and formal assessments gives teachers opportunities to provide students with feedback as well as make adjustments to the ways in which teachers deliver instruction. According to Hattie & Timperley (2007), assessments combined with effective feedback are a powerful tool for enhancing student achievement in the classroom. In fact, research shows it to be one of the top ten highest impact influences in improving achievement when done correctly. There are three elements to a comprehensive formative assessment system that teachers must fully implement in order for it to be effective. These components are called feed-up, feedback and feed-forward (Hattie & Timperley 2007).
1. Feed-up: Clarifying the purpose
The first component of a comprehensive formative assessment system is to set a goal or objective for what students will be learning. If students understand the purpose of what is being taught, they are better focused, have a clearer understanding of what is expected of them, and possess a higher commitment to learning. Setting a purpose is also beneficial to the teacher in regards to the next component, feedback, because the teacher can align the assessments to meet the intended objective(s).
2. Feedback: Responding to student work
The second component focuses on individual responses teachers provide to students. Teacher responses should center on the learning objective and provide students with feedback pertaining to their progress toward the goal. Fisher and Frey (2009) suggest “teachers give feedback as students complete discrete tasks that are part of a larger project so that students can use teachers' suggestions to better master content and improve their performance on the larger project” (p. 21).
3. Feed-forward: Modifying instruction
The last element of a comprehensive formative assessment system is the use of information collected during the feedback phase to guide future instruction, thus “feed-forward.” This step is often left out as teachers do not utilize the data gathered during feedback to plan or alter future lessons. Teachers have to be somewhat flexible in this component regarding lesson planning as it may require going back to re-teach content to an entire class or to a small group of students based on what the data shows.
2 Teaching Tools
Rubrics address all three elements of a comprehensive formative assessment system. They are a great tool for providing students with a purpose for what is about to be taught and specific feedback about their progress in regards to their learning goals, and give teachers data to use to modify future instruction. RubiStar is a free online tool that allows teachers to create rubrics for any subject area.
2. My Favorite No
This activity, inspired by The Teaching Channel, can be used to provide students with feedback as well as collect data on student performance. With “My Favorite No,” students answer a question provided by the teacher, and the teacher analyzes one or more wrong answers, without revealing the identity of the student(s). It can be used as a warm up activity or a closing activity in which the teacher quickly assesses how many students are grasping the concept; for those who are not, the teacher decides what in particular is causing their misunderstanding and who might need additional instruction. It is imperative that enough time be allotted for the analysis of the wrong answer. It can work in all content areas and across grade levels.
“Our chief want in life is somebody who shall make us do what we can."
Ralph Waldo Emerson, writer
Fisher, D., & Frey, N. (2014). Checking for Understanding: Formative Assessment Techniques for Your Classroom (2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
Fisher, D., & Frey, N. (2009). Feed up, back, forward. Educational Leadership, 67(3), 20-25. Retrieved from http://fisherandfrey.com/uploads/posts/Feed_forward.pdf
Hattie, J., & Timperley, H. (March 2007). The power of feedback. Review of Educational Research, 77(1), 81-112. Retrieved from http://education.qld.gov.au/staff/development/performance/resources/readings/power-feedback.pdf