There are two principal types of pupil assessments in schools — formative and summative. Formative assessment refers to the ongoing process of gathering information and using it to inform in-process teaching and learning methods. This type of assessment is integral to effective teaching; it allows for teachers to cater to different learners within a mixed-ability class, and it also allows pupils to understand their own academic strengths and weaknesses.
Unlike summative assessment, which is gathered at the end of a project or course, formative assessment allows pupils to be continually appraised. This optimises the teaching methods and learning styles used. Generally it is ungraded and used exclusively to improve student learning, or to support summative assessment with different evaluation criteria. At a school level, SMTs and school leaders use this information to identify areas of strength and weakness across the institution, and to develop strategies for improvement.
Today, formative assessment is considered to be one of the more effective instructional methods, with a growing body of academic research on the topic. Some educators lack inspiration when crafting their annual formative assessment strategies but modern technology in education provides a fresh and intuitive approach.
To improve a teacher’s ability to deliver personalised learning, your school is likely to require them to use formative assessment strategies in the classroom.
Formative assessment is fluid and unstructured, adding ambiguity and a level of complexity to the task. It can be as simple as pulling together informal feedback at the end of a lesson, or it can be more sophisticated self-assessment in writing or collaborative learning activities through a digital tool.
There is also no official way to garner and utilise the data; results are not to be used in an official performance capacity. This can lead to many teachers using summative assessment in a formative way, which could be limiting for pupils. Educators who do recognise the value of separate formative assessment might struggle to implement next steps, purely due to the delay in gathering feedback.
Interactive front of class displays, like the Promethean ActivPanel that’s powered by a mini Android PC, provide a seamless and efficient tool for teachers to formatively assess their pupils. They supply a vehicle for school leaders to gather, store and optimise this valuable information.
Teachers can make use of their preferred assessment or whiteboarding apps directly from the panel. Through connected technology, educators can easily access pupil’s work and make faster adjustments to their teaching methods. SMTs, meanwhile, can implement timely improvements to the school as a whole.
Unlike the traditional ‘hands up’ approach, teachers can see live results while other pupils cannot. This boosts the confidence of students who are sensitive of their peers’ opinions. The technology allows teachers to freeze or blank a screen, tracking assessment on the go.
ClassFlow is free software that is optimised for use with the ActivPanel and allows teachers to connect to multiple devices and view results as they come in. This means pupils can be given on-the-spot assistance without interrupting the whole class, or drawing attention to struggling or unchallenged students.
How it works
Students can give instant feedback during, or at the end of, a specific lesson in the form of polls. Results can be viewed in a named or anonymous mode, depending on the preference of the educator, and in their own time.
Once students are connected to a class, they will remain connected even when the device enters sleep mode. This is perfect for instant polling; at any point in the lesson a poll can be sent to collect feedback, assess understanding, address misconceptions, and generate discussions.
Polls can be created as a variety of outputs, depending on the content.
Unlike polling that is used for opinion-based feedback, assessments are a hands-on way of ascertaining whether pupils have grasped a subject matter.
Within the assessment feature there are different testing formats, easily adapted for different subjects. Questions can be randomised, students can easily navigate or skip, and teachers can set a time limit, if applicable.
Thanks to the specific properties, delivery options and question choices, ActivPanel assessments can be designed to collect more than just correct or incorrect responses. Feedback can be set per answer or per right / wrong response, depending on the question type.
Assessments help students make subject-specific connections, apply learning to new situations, critique and analyse learning, and build on ideas.
For quick formative assessment during a lesson, activities are simple to create and efficient to deploy. Students complete activities based on the lesson subject matter, and the feature tracks correct / incorrect answers, as well as the time the activity has taken.
Activities on the ActivPanel are great for consolidating, reinforcing and extending pupils’ learning. Teachers send them as a creative card to individual devices or the entire class.
Formative assessment is commonly used by teachers to understand their pupils’ levels of ability, motivation and understanding. It allows teaching methods to be differentiated in-process rather than retrospectively. Students, meanwhile, can focus on the learning process and its value, rather than on results or rewards.
With interactive and efficient formative assessment strategies, such as those available with the ActivPanel, pupils’ assessment data can be seamlessly gathered, stored and accessed when needed.
The results? Faster teaching personalisation, reduced learning gaps, higher attainment levels and an improved overall school profile.
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