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Feedback loops & Formative Assessment, versus Assessment Of Learning

Feedback Loops

In 2003, officials in Garden Grove, California, a community of 170,000 people wedged amid the suburban sprawl of Orange County, set out to confront a problem that afflicts most every town in America: drivers speeding through school zones. But these efforts had only limited success, and speeding cars continued to hit bicyclists and pedestrians in the school zones with depressing regularity… until they discovered what proved to be a surprising and profoundly effective tool for changing behavior. Read more...

  1. Evidence - The radar-equipped sign flashes a car’s current speed.

First comes the data—quantifying a behavior and presenting that data back to the individual so they know where they stand. After all, you can’t change what you don’t measure.

  1. Relevance - The sign also displays the legal speed limit—most people don’t want to be seen as bad drivers.
  2. Action - The individual has to engage with all of the above and act—thus closing the loop and allowing that new action to be measured.
  3. Consequence - People are reminded of the downside of speeding, including traffic tickets and the risk of accidents.

Even compelling information is useless unless it ties into some larger goal or purpose. People must have a sense of what to do with the information and any opportunities they will have to act on it.

Data is just digits unless it hits home. Through information design, social context, or some other proxy for meaning, the right incentive will transform rational information into an emotional imperative.

So feedback loops work. Why? Why does putting our own data in front of us somehow compel us to act?

In part, it’s that feedback taps into something core to the human experience, even to our biological origins.

Like any organism, humans are self-regulating creatures, with a multitude of systems working to achieve homeostasis. Evolution itself, after all, is a feedback loop, albeit one so elongated as to be imperceptible by an individual. 1)

Assessment of learning

Traditionally, we have used assessments to measure how much our students have learned up to a particular point in time. This is called “assessment of learning” — or what we use to see whether our students are meeting standards set by the state, the district, or the classroom teacher. 2)

Formative Assessment

Formative assessments are considered part of the learning:

  • They serve as practice for students
  • They check for understanding along the way and guide teacher decisions about future instruction and feedback to students so they can improve their performance.
  • Formative assessments help differentiate instruction and thus improve student achievement.

Recording Evidence

When you use formative assessments, you must keep track of the data that you collect.

The easiest way to observe and assess student growth is to use a class list. On this sheet, you can note specific skills and record how each student is doing. You can use a system of check-minus, check, and check-plus or the numbers 4, 3, 2, 1 to indicate student participation, collaboration, understanding and/or proficiency with a particular skill.

Accurate assessment requires multiple measures of student understanding - evidence gathered over time in different ways to evaluate how effective the teaching and learning process has been. Consider using video recordings and student journals to supplement your class-list notes.

To gather this evidence of learning we need to ask questions that provide results that clearly indicate what students, know, don’t know, think they know, and have misconceptions about.

Only then we can begin to:

  • Set goals for instruction (intended learning outcomes) and the rules that you will set to define success criteria.
  • Provide instruction that rectifies misconceptions, fills in the gaps and extends the knowledge, understandings, and skills
  • Ask more quality questions or create quality tasks that help deepen understanding
  • Provide explicit, positive feedback that gives students information about where and how to improve
  • Explain to students how your feedback (formative data) is inteneded to deepen their understanding
  • Guide students in using their data to monitor their progress in learning and meeting their goals
  • Show students evidence about how their understanding has improved
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teaching/formative-assessment/home.txt · Last modified: 13/08/2018/ 18:07 (external edit)