Technology-Based Activities as Formative Assessments in the Higher Education Classroom

Technology-Based Activities as Formative Assessments in the Higher Education Classroom

Diana Tang-En Chang (University of North Georgia, USA), Jennie L. Jones (University of North Georgia, USA) and Danielle E. Hartsfield (University of North Georgia, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4036-7.ch012
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Instructors across a variety of contexts and levels utilize formative assessments to measure students' progress toward meeting learning outcomes. Formative assessments are how instructors gauge whether their students have mastered content or skills or if they require additional practice and support. The purpose of this chapter is to explain how three elementary education professors utilize technology-based activities as formative assessments within their classrooms. In this chapter, the authors address the importance of using formative assessment in higher education classrooms and provide illustrative examples of how various technologies can be used as assessment tools. These examples will include game-based activities (e.g., Kahoot), presentation platforms (e.g., Nearpod), and organizational tools (e.g., Padlet). The goal of this chapter is to help support instructors in higher education who wish to incorporate technological activities while using them as formative assessments when teaching students.
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Review Of The Literature

Significance of Formative Assessment

Assessment is a critical component of well-designed and intentional instruction. In the courses that the authors teach at the university, they apply the backward design process (Wiggins & McTighe, 2006) to plan their instruction: thinking about learning outcomes and assessments before thinking about instruction and activities. Wiggins and McTighe (2006) contend that applying this process is a best practice for facilitating students’ understanding, and Reynolds and Kearns (2017) observe that when backward design is used in college instruction, the outcomes may include a shift away from instructor-centered teaching to student-centered, active learning. The backward design process involves three main steps: (1) determining learning outcomes, or what the instructor wants students to know, understand, or be able to do; (2) selecting an assessment, or the evidence the instructor will use to gauge students’ progress toward meeting learning outcomes; and (3) planning instruction, or the methods and activities the instructor will implement to support students’ learning. All these components—learning outcomes, assessments, and instruction—must be aligned for students to achieve the goals of the learning experience. Assessment is especially critical because it tells the instructor if students have achieved mastery or if they need additional time and support to learn the desired content or skill. Moreover, in their seminal meta-analysis, Black and William (1998) concluded that student gains in learning initiated by formative assessment were “amongst the largest ever reported for educational interventions” (p. 61).

Assessment indicates to the instructor whether the teaching was effective or if reteaching may be necessary. There are two major types of assessments: summative and formative. For the purposes of this chapter, which examines the use of various assessment tools as activities within the classroom, the authors will focus on the use of formative assessments to guide instruction.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Technology-Enhanced Formative Assessment: Formative assessment that is embedded in instruction using technology.

Mind Maps: A graphic organizer that demonstrates how ideas and concepts are connected. It provides a visualization of how information is connected.

Backward Design: A three-step instructional design process that requires teachers to begin by identifying the desired learning outcomes: next the teacher determines evidence of learning (assessment), and finally, the teacher designs the learning experiences and activities.

Assessment as Learning (AaL): Formative assessment that highlights the role of the student as both a contributor to and a connector between the assessment and learning process.

Assessment for Learning (AoL): Formative assessment that emphasizes the learning process.

Organizational Assessments: Technology tools that afford opportunities for students to present their thinking and demonstrate their understanding of the content they are learning.

Summative Assessments: Assessments that are given at the end of a unit, often for a grade.

Presentation Platforms: Technological tools that allow instructors to present content to students.

Game-Based Online Technology: Activities that use a form of competition—against peers, oneself, or the computer program—to motivate and engage students when reviewing or practicing course content.

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