Our research question is: What are the main affordances and hindrances for more wide spread use of formative assessment practices using technology in the mathematics and science classrooms across Europe?
The research was carried out as part of the FaSMEd EU project 2013-16. FaSMEd brought together eight countries (UK, Ireland, Germany, The Netherlands, Italy, France, South-Africa and Norway) researching into how formative assessment (FA) and technology can be used by teachers to enhance student motivation and attainment. In each country partners worked with a cluster of schools, trying out formative assessment practices in mathematics and science using a wide range of technologies.
It is well known (e.g., Rocard, 2007) that deductive teaching and rote learning does not contribute to developing competences needed in the present day society, and more inquiry based pedagogies are recommended. E.g., the EU report Science Education for Responsible Citizenship (Hazelkorn et al., 2015) recommends that education policies and systems should “Support schools, teachers, teacher educators and students of all ages to adopt an inquiry approach to science education as part of the core framework of science education for all” (p. 8). Through context-based approaches, students gain insight into meaningful use of science and mathematics, and this results in improvement in students' motivation and attitudes to learning, which in turn affects academic achievement (Bruder & Prescott, 2013). To meet this, it is important that national and international strategies be given sufficient support at the classroom level (see e.g., Sikko, Pepin, and Lyngved, 2012).
Use of technology is an integrated part of modern society and there is great potential for pedagogical use that aligns with inquiry based pedagogies that foster deep learning. There is, however, concern that the positive impact on student learning that technology promises, has not been fulfilled (Clark-Wilson, Robutti, & Sinclair, 2014). Software in mathematics and science developed for school use is too often aimed at endless repetition and rote learning instead of contributing to developing conceptual understanding in an inquiry based pedagogical setting. There is thus a great need for software and pedagogical use of software that presents students with activities that offer more possibilities for deep learning.
Whereas summative tests, including international tests like PISA and TIMSS (OECD, 2013; 2014), are of a summative nature providing assessment of learning, there is growing evidence that formative assessment provides learners with better and more lasting types of feedback. Black and Wiliam (2009) defined formative assessment as classroom practices where evidence about student achievement is used by learners, their peers and teachers “to make decisions about the next steps in instruction that are likely to be better, or better founded, than the decisions they would have taken in the absence of the evidence that was elicited” (p. 9). Drawing from 199 sources on assessment, learning and motivation, Clark (2012) found that formative assessment develops self regulated learning, which is essential in “enhancing the motivational disposition to learn, enriching reasoning, refining meta-cognitive skills, and improving performance outcomes” (p. 205). Research does, however, indicate that it is challenging for teachers to implement such formative assessment practices in the classroom (Marshall & Drummond, 2006), in particular in ways that dig into the particular subjects instead of in a general pedagogical way (Sandvik & Buland, 2014).
There are challenges with both the use of technology and the practices of formative assessment in the classrooms. Our research within the FaSMEd project aims to give an overview of the challenges across countries, provide data on commonalities and differences, and built on this provide an outline of recommendations on how to overcome the challenges.
Black, P., & Wiliam, D. (2009). Developing the theory of formative assessment. Educational Assessment Evaluation and Accountability, 21, 5-31. Bruder, R., & Prescott, A. (2013). Research evidence on the benefits of IBL. ZDM, 45, 811-822. Chevallard, Y. (2005). Steps towards a new epistemology in mathematics education. In M. Bosch (ed.), Proceedings of the fourth congress of the European Society for Research in Mathematics Education. Sant Feliu de Guíxols: CERME 4. Clark, I. (2012). Formative assessment: assessment is for self-regulated learning. Educational Psychology Review, 24, 205–249. Clark-Wilson, A., Robutti,O., Sinclair, N. (Eds.) (2014). The mathematics teacher in the digital era: An international perspective on technology focused professional development. Dordrecht: Springer. Hazelkorn et al. (2015). Science Education for Responsible Citizenship. doi:10.2777/12626 Marshall, B. and M.-J. Drummond (2006). How teachers engage with assessment for learning: lessons from the classroom. Research Papers in Education, 21(2), 133-149. OECD (2013). Synergies for Better Learning. An International perspective on evaluation and assessment. OECD Reviews of Evaluation and Assessment in Education. Paris: OECD Publishing. OECD (2014). PISA 2012 Results: What Students Know and Can Do – Student Performance in Mathematics, Reading and Science, Volume I. OECD Publishing Rocard et al. (2007). Science education now: a new pedagogy for the future of Europe. Available at http://www.eesc.europa.eu/?i=portal.en.lso-observatory-documents-background-documents.9003 Sandvik, L. V., & Buland, T. (Ed.) (2014). Vurdering i skolen. Utvikling av kompetanse i fellesskap. Trondheim: NTNU PLU og SINTEF Teknologi og samfunn. Sikko, S. A., Lyngved, R., & Pepin, B. (2012). Working with teachers on inquiry based learning (IBL) approaches: Teacher beliefs. Acta Didactica Norge, 6(1), 18 pages.
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