Blended Learning and Formative Assessment: What are they and why are we looking at them together?
|Leahy, Lyon, Thompson, Wiliam (2005)|
Considered this way formative assessment is not a 'thing'. As Wiliam states, it is not '"any assessment before the big one"'. It should not be thought of in terms of 'this one is a formative assessment' and 'this one is a summative assessment'.
It is, rather, an ongoing and continuous process of doing - of providing feedback that moves learning forward and engaging all agents; learner, peers and teacher, in the process. It is a process of generating and sharing clear understanding for all agents about where the learner is going (explicit learning intentions) and how they will know when they have got there (explicit success criteria). It is the process by which information is elicited which can then be used to adapt how and what is taught. It is the activating of learners 'as resources for one another' and as 'owners of their own learning.' And it is underpinned by One Big Idea; that assessment is formative to the extent that the information it provides is used to adapt teaching and learning to meet learner needs. And as Wiliam notes - this is at its most powerful when it is minute by minute rather than over longer cycles.
|Wiliam - One Big Idea of Formative Assessment|
Why look at blended learning and formative assessment together?
As we consider the impact of blended learning - then the word 'classrooms' in the 'One Big Idea' statement above becomes variable; the classroom may be physical, digital or both, but the principle of using evidence of achievement to adapt learning experiences to meet learner needs, does not change.
So, as we move into increasingly blended environments - the challenge is to not just replicate good and effective classroom practices of formative assessment but to enhance and improve practices of formative assessment utilising the technology available. It is important that we do not simply Substitute or Augment existing practice and resources (as in Rueben Puentedura's SAMR model of integration of technology) but we must Modify and Redefine what can be done with the technology and do so in ways that we may not yet have conceived!
|SAMR Model of use of technology|
Blended learning and formative assessment also come together in the concept of adaptive learning and adaptive testing; for more on this see ACER CEO Geoff Masters on the present and future of online assessment.
What we are investigating is blended learning and formative assessment, and why both of them is because the two are, in the sense outlined above, inextricably linked; we can't talk about improving blended learning without improving assessment, and we can't talk about improving assessment without talking about formative assessment.
So, there's the what - more on the why and the how in future posts!