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Why emphasise formative assessment? Mantz Yorke Queen’s University Belfast 25 February 2005.

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Presentation on theme: "Why emphasise formative assessment? Mantz Yorke Queen’s University Belfast 25 February 2005."— Presentation transcript:

1 Why emphasise formative assessment? Mantz Yorke Queen’s University Belfast 25 February 2005

2 Formative assessment … implies no more (and no less) than a discerning judgement about [a] learner’s progress; it is ‘on-going’ in the sense that it goes on all the time; and it is formative in so far as its purpose is forward-looking, aiming to improve future learning (as distinct from the retrospective nature of summative assessment). Greenwood et al. (2001, p.109)

3 A typology of formative assessment Probably the main approach in HE Where circumstances permit Via peer assessment activities Over coffee or in the bar Problems if assessor is mentor, supervisor In work-based situations Only if an assessment requirement Where student is acting self-critically From Formal Informal Teachers Peers Others Self

4 A typology of formative assessment Probably the main approach in HE Where circumstances permit Via peer assessment activities Over coffee or in the bar Problems if assessor is mentor, supervisor In work-based situations Only if an assessment requirement Where student is acting self-critically From Formal Informal Teachers Peers Others Self

5 Towards greater autonomy Probably the main approach in HE Where circumstances permit Via peer assessment activities Over coffee or in the bar Problems if assessor is mentor, supervisor In work-based situations Only if an assessment requirement Where student is acting self-critically From Formal Informal Teachers Peers Others Self

6 Formative assessment Black and Wiliam’s meta-analysis showed a size effect of 0.7 … formative assessment does improve learning … The gains in achievement [are] among the largest ever reported for educational interventions. Black and Wiliam (1998, p.61)

7 However, there are weaknesses...

8 Weaknesses (Subject Review) In 49 per cent of cases, marking systems could be improved particularly in respect of feedback to students. This sometimes lacked a critical edge, gave few helpful comments and failed to indicate to students ways in which improvement could be made. QAA (2001, para 28: Subject overview report, Education)

9 Weaknesses (Subject Review etc.) In 49 per cent of cases, marking systems could be improved particularly in respect of feedback to students. This sometimes lacked a critical edge, gave few helpful comments and failed to indicate to students ways in which improvement could be made. QAA (2001, para 28: Subject overview report, Education) See also QAA (2004) Learning from Subject Review and Learning from higher education in further education colleges in England

10 Weaknesses (Foundation Degrees) Students of about one-half of the programmes experience some variation in the quality of written formative feedback. It is not always clear to students how their assessed work could be improved. In five cases review teams highlight this as a serious problem. QAA (2003, para 56: Review of 33 Foundation Degrees)

11 Learning Traditional programme based on year-long units Form Asst Form Asst Summ Asst Academic year Summ Asst Learning Summ Asst Learning Modular programme based on semesters Formative Assessment? A challenge for modularity

12 Formative assessment is a more complex matter than some may appreciate can be construed as a signalling system has an important personal dimension

13 Assessment task Assessor interprets Grade, feedback Student interprets Student interprets Criteria Tutor/assessor Student performs Tutor/assessor’s self-learning Teacher characteristics Subject structure Program specification Student’s self-theories, general development

14 The virtue of small steps … I found having large blocks of work without assessment difficult – you don’t know if you are grasping it or not until exam time! Assignments weekly would be better from my point of view. [Female in her 30s, pursuing a science-based FD programme]

15 The virtue of small steps … The less individuals believe in themselves, the more they need explicit, proximal, and frequent feedback of progress that provides repeated affirmations of their growing capabilities. Bandura (1997, p.217)

16 … and of supportive feedback Students observed that feedback was given in such a way that they did not feel it was rejecting or discouraging... [and] that feedback procedures assisted them in forming accurate perceptions of their abilities and establishing internal standards with which to evaluate their own work Mentkowski and Associates (2000, p.82)

17 Optimising formative assessment Institution and Department Culture of support for student learning General approach to learning, teaching, assessment

18 Optimising formative assessment Institution and Department Culture of support for student learning General approach to learning, teaching, assessment Programme structures and assessment regulations

19 Optimising formative assessment Institution and Department Culture of support for student learning General approach to learning, teaching, assessment Programme structures and assessment regulations Quality assurance and enhancement

20 Optimising formative assessment Institution and Department Culture of support for student learning General approach to learning, teaching, assessment Programme structures and assessment regulations Quality assurance and enhancement Individuals and groups of teachers Following through the implications of the ‘signalling system’

21 Optimising formative assessment Institution and Department Culture of support for student learning General approach to learning, teaching, assessment Programme structures and assessment regulations Quality assurance and enhancement Individuals and groups of teachers Following through the implications of the ‘signalling system’ Being imaginative in the use of ‘teaching time’

22 Optimising formative assessment Institution and Department Culture of support for student learning General approach to learning, teaching, assessment Programme structures and assessment regulations Quality assurance and enhancement Individuals and groups of teachers Following through the implications of the ‘signalling system’ Being imaginative in the use of ‘teaching time’ Involving learners in self- and peer-assessment

23 Threats 1.The concern with standards 2.The legacy of the ‘scientific measurement’ paradigm 3.Increased student/staff ratios 4.Unitisation of curricula 5.Research etc. 6.Students maximising the ratio of grade/effort

24 What might help? Broad principles Not trying to do it all yourself Encouraging the students to engage in self- and/or peer-assessment, using provided criteria and/or examples… … though they are likely to query the provision that they are paying for Actively encouraging students to buy into a culture of learning

25 What might help? The ‘Patchwork Text’ An example from Sociology (McKenzie 2003) Choose 4 from the following 7: Questions relating to a text Review of a key text Case study problem Presentation relating to a news report Data analysis exercise Report on visit(s) to local school Conduct an interview and analyse it plus A reflective account of the options taken 500-800 words/equivalent each, total no more than 4000

26 Gibbs’ example from Engineering The problem: large numbers, non-engagement, heavy marking of problem-sheets 1.On six occasions during the course, students brought worked answers to problem-sheets; problem-sheets randomly distributed; marked in class according to given criteria 2.Problem-sheets returned immediately; marks not recorded 3.Requirement to complete ¾ of the problem-sheets to enter exam 4.Exam (only) used to differentiate student performances Gibbs (1999, pp.43-44)

27 Gibbs’ example from Engineering The problem: large numbers, non-engagement, heavy marking of problem-sheets 1.On six occasions during the course, students brought worked answers to problem-sheets; problem-sheets randomly distributed; marked in class according to given criteria 2.Problem-sheets returned immediately; marks not recorded 3.Requirement to complete ¾ of the problem-sheets to enter exam 4.Exam (only) used to differentiate student performances Result: Av. Mark 45% c75%; fails near zero Gibbs (1999, pp.43-44)

28 Key factors in Gibbs’ study Saved on staff time Relevant learning (in this case, problem-working) Rapid feedback, where accuracy was not vital Students paid attention to the feedback Involved creativity in pedagogy Engaged students actively (social pressure?) … … and encouraged their appreciation of what was expected (implicitly developing self-regulation)

29 Three wider issues Employability Widening participation Recording student achievement

30 Three wider issues Employability Widening participation Recording student achievement

31 Employability; broader personal effectiveness Subject under- standing Meta- cognition Skilful practices in context Personal qualities, including self-theories and efficacy beliefs E S U M The USEM account

32 The importance of ‘the personal’ Malleable v. fixed self-theoryDweck (1999) Learning > performance goalsDweck (1999) Emotional stateBoekaerts (2003) Locus of controlRotter (1966) Self-efficacyBandura (1997) Learned optimismSeligman (1998) Practical intelligenceSternberg (1997) Emotional intelligenceGoleman (1996)

33 Knowledge gain: effect sizes Meta-analyses Size N studies Self-system (E of USEM) 0.74 147 Metacognition (M) 0.72 556 Marzano (1998)

34 Three wider issues Employability Widening participation Recording student achievement

35 Successful ‘WP institutions’ Inter alia, tend to Emphasise early formative assessment Be committed to the support of students Accentuate the social in programmes

36 Three wider issues Employability Widening participation Recording student achievement

37 Issues in the Burgess Report Recording of student achievement The honours degree classification If no honours degree classification, then what? Credit: valuing something?

38 Change Educational change is technically simple and socially complex. Fullan (2001, p.69)

39 Change Educational change is technically simple and socially complex. Fullan (2001, p.69) There is no quick fix.


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