In a recent article, Susan Christopher discusses two types of assessment that are used to assess student achievement. “Stiggins, Arter, Chappuis and Chappuis (2004) refer to the two types of assessment as assessment for learning (formative) and assessment of learning (summative). Assessment for learning happens while students are in the learning process. These assessments help teachers diagnose student needs, provide feedback, and show students how to improve. In contrast, assessment of learning happens after the learning process has ended. These assessment include unit exams, projects and standardized tests, and give a snapshot of what a student has learned at a given point,” (ASCD, Educational Leadership, Jan.2008).
Students need homework and feedback so they can practice and learn about their mistakes and weaknesses, and thereby improve their skills. Homework is a safe place to practice skills; it’s similar to practice sessions for a musician or athlete. When homework is reviewed a teacher can learn what students know and what they need to learn to reach the targeted goals.
Formative assessments keep students motivated to practice, it offers encouragement and correction in attaining the goals that teachers set for them. Formative assessment gives students information so that they feel a sense of control over their learning and develop self-motivation and self-correction skills. This feedback from the teacher needs to be useful to the student, so that he/she can move ahead in the learning process. Individual feedback is based on knowing each student and how the feedback will be received.
When learning basic facts students need immediate feedback; they need to know if the answer is right or wrong.
Be sensitive to the timing of feedback and the amount given.
Offer suggestions that are doable; consider the child’s age and developmental level.
Avoid fixing the problem; rather offer a roadmap that addresses the weaknesses.
Use written feedback, oral feedback and demonstration to make a correction where appropriate.
Ask questions, “What are you noticing about this work?” or “Why did you decide to do it this way?”
Decide when to use individual feedback and when to reteach in a small group.
Comment on the student’s work and make specific suggestions for what to do next.
Feedback is meant to show the student the progress they have made and what steps are necessary for reaching the next goal.
Be positive and use praise when a student incorporates previously learned strategies into present work.
Think about the smaller steps in the process so the student can eventually self-correct.
Your tone of voice should allow the student to feel in charge.
Be aware of what your students are hearing, feeling and understanding from the feedback .
We learn best by practicing. We need to provide as many opportunities as possible for our students to practice what we want them to know to reach the standards. When they learn through formative assessment, the summative assessment results truly reflect what we have taught them.
I hope you’ve found this article helpful. If you have a question or suggestion, don’t
hesitate to e-mail me.
Brookhart, Susan M. (2008). Feedback That Fits. ASCD, 65, 54-59.
Christopher, Susan (2008). Homework: A Few Practice Arrows. ASCD, 65 74-75.
Stiggins,R.,Arter,J., Chappius,J.,&Chappius,S. (2004). Classroom assessment for learning: Doing it right –Using it well. Portland, OR: Assessment Training Institute.
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