Tag Archives: Formative Assessment

The Role of e-Portfolios in Formative and Summative Assessment

This report and a series of case studies has recently been released by JISC. The publications relate to eportfolio practice in Higher and Further Education contexts in the UK. While that in itself is quite far removed from the primary classroom in New Zealand, whenever the words formative and eportfolios are mentioned in the same line I am naturally curious, due to my own research into the relationship between the two.

Firstly some nuts and bolts stuff. The case studies unpack eportfolio practice in 34 institutions, asking a range a questions/prompts including the context to who is assessing the eportfolio, the tool used and its’ social networking ability and reference to the pedagogical support and summative/formative assessment implications. The question and prompts in themselves are quite focused and almost suggest a criteria of what should or shouldn’t be used in a successful eportfolio implementation. Regarding the tool used, the predominant option for eportfolios was either PebblePad or BlackBoard based with other options including Plone, Joomla, Elgg, Moodle, WordPress, ePet or a self developed in house system.

The report itself has some useful parts. The discussed benefits of eportfolios reinforce the concepts we already are familiar with. I found Table 2, the Matrix of e-portfolio functionality and pedagogical/administrative value against case studies the most useful as it cross references criteria to particular case studies in order to find out more.

Overall though I was disappointed with the reference to and discussion of eportfolios and how they were supporting formative practice. Maybe this comes from my definition of formative practice as opposed to those writing the report:

The terms ‘formative’ and ‘summative’ do not describe different types of assessment. They refer to the purpose of the assessment, the use to which it is put. The summative purpose of assessment is to identify educational achievement as a matter of public record, for use in selection and certification. The formative purpose is to provide information to the learner and others concerned with the process of learning about the learner’s progress, strengths and areas for improvement. Practitioners often refer to assessment used for formative purposes as ‘feedback’.

Or maybe that highlights the difference between the educational sectors, primary vs. tertiary and primary vs. secondary. I see formative assessment (better labeled as assessment for/of/as learning) as being distinctly different from summative assessment. Yes you can use summative assessment formatively, as is almost suggested above, but formative assessment is so much more than that. Student control, student ownership, student understanding. Yes feedback is a component of that as is the learner’s progress, strengths and areas for improvement, but so is effective questioning, co-construction, exemplars, peer and self assessments, ongoing reflections… how does eportfolio use in HE and FE support such strategies?

Are existing assessment structures and expectations holding these institutions back from letting go and giving ownership and responsibility over to the learner?

Promoting Teacher Professional Learning and Development

ULearn09 Spotlight with Prof. Helen Timperley co author of the Teacher Professional Learning and Development: Best Evidence Synthesis Iteration (BES). The good news too is that this huge document has been synthesised into an brochure/pamphlet format to make it more accessible to educators, available here.

What are the kinds of teacher professional development and learning that leads to improved student learning?

Firstly, why do teachers need PD? Amongst other reasons, knowledge is changing and the way our students learn is becoming clearer as more research and information comes to light. Teachers learning from experience is not enough!

Four understandings about professional learning for improving student outcomes:

  1. Strongly influenced by what and how teachers teach
  2. PD cannot be an add on
  3. Effective PD responds to how teachers learn (too often we focus on how our students learn but not our teachers)
  4. Shaped by the context in which teachers practice. e.g. the environment, opportunities for PD and the students themselves.

What works?

Firstly formative assessment. Formative assessment works for teachers in the same way that it does for students. Teachers know why they are learning and what they are learning. They are in control of and monitor their own success. This is a key point as so often what we practice in the classroom is not mirrored in professional learning opportunities such as teacher only days or after school workshops. We need to adapt what we integrate into the classroom, and what we know works for our students, into our professional learning opportunities.

Secondly, effective professional learning is embedded in the teacher inquiry cycle (the following stages are adapted/revised from those in the BES).

>> What knowledge and skills do students needs? >> What knowledge do we as teachers need? >> Deepen professional knowledge and refine skills >> Engage in new learning experiences >> What has been the impact of our changed actions? >>

Principals of effective PD:

Focus on valued student outcomes: (matched to appropriate teaching activities or learning experiences). The success of any PD is determined by student outcomes NOT teacher skills.

Worthwhile content: known teaching knowledge and skills form the basis of effective PD, supported by research evidence.

Integration of knowledge and skill: essential to promote deep teacher learning. Deep knowledge of curriculum, how to teach effectively and how to assess. Integrating theory and practice.

Assessment for professional inquiry: a formative approach to what teachers need to know based on their analysis and information on student achievement.

Multiple opportunities to learn and apply: within a supportive and trusted and challenging environment.

Approaches are responsive to learning processes: different types of PD are required that relate to existing teacher beliefs. Teachers are as diverse as their students.

Opportunities to process new learning with others: teacher interaction, focused on student outcomes, helps teachers put new learning into their existing practice.

Knowledgeable expertise: to challenge assumptions and beliefs, develop new knowledge and skills.

ePortfolios: Student Feedback on Learning

My formal teacher inquiry for the year is continuing to develop, not a fast as I would have liked but none the less there is progress. The broad goal of the inquiry is to increase quality feedback from parents in the students’ portfolios, and therefore contributing to improved student achievement. We know that feedback has a huge impact on improving student learning through the research from such people as Hattie, Black and Wiliam and Clarke. Our AP at school has also blogged about it here highlighting our school’s belief on the importance of feedback.

Last term focused on getting the students involved in giving each other quality feedback on their peers learning. This was structured, modeled and discussed with the students and success criteria co-constructed.

The students suggested and agreed that quality feedback would:

  • tell them how to get better
  • give positive comments as well as advice on how to get better
  • use the success criteria to guide your comments
  • make the comments easily understood

A great start to providing quality feedback! Time was specifically set aside for the feedback to take place. It was planned for and valued rather than a last minute or accidental.

Here are some examples of what it looked like in practice:

I think that your art is great!!!! I really like your quote. You didn’t have any dead space and it doesn’t look like you have rushed it. You also have the same style writing as Colin McCahon. Next time you should blend your colours more. :-)

I really like your Colin McCahon art work. I like how you put your picture into three different segments but you could have used a thinner brush and made it a bit more smooth.

I think that you kept it really simple, you used a great range of colours!
Next time I think you could blend your colours a bit better.

Hi, I think that your Colin McCahon art work is really good but I think that you could have blended a bit more and use more colours. I like it how you used lots of sections and I like your colours.

Your crossword was a bit challenging some of the clues I didn’t really get but I figured it out in the end. I think you need to make your clues a bit more easier next time.

I think that it was great because it was hard but not to hard. Next time I think that you should have photo of a snake as well.

Wow that was hard. Your colours where good and you had interesting words and great synonyms. You needed to have picture that were related more to the thing you were talking about.

These are just a selection of some really great examples of student feedback.

So where to now?

The inquiry focus in the classroom context will be to make seeking and receiving peer feedback a natural part of the learning process. At the moment this is very much a teacher directed part of their learning. The second focus of the inquiry leading into the term is with the students themselves taking their understanding of how to give quality feedback home to their parents and involving them in giving quality feedback on learning.

I look forward to the students taking on board the role of the teacher in engaging their parents in this process.

eFellow Research Report

My eFellowship research report is ready to go.

The research investigates the formative benefits of eportfolios using two case studies of primary school classes as they implement an online eportfolio solution. Observations and interviews with students and teachers and the eportfolios are used to compare the outcomes with the underlying characteristics of formative assessment thus answering the question, what are the formative benefits of eportfolios?

I hope you find it useful!

ePortfolios and Assessment for Learning by Nick Rate

eLearning and ePortfolios

I presented to a group of Hawke’s Bay principals today on how how my research and implementation of eportfolios is beginning to effectively pull together the strands of elearning, assessment for learning and the NZ Curriculum. This will be increasingly so as the process of facilitating learning through eportfolios is increasingly embedded in the teaching and learning process.

eLearning ePortfolios

View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: assessment formative)

When putting this presentation together I used the coloured pencil as a visual metaphor for the themes and elements of elearning, assessment for learning and the NZ Curriculum. There are lots of different coloured pencils out there just like there are lots of options for designing your schools curriculum delivery model…

What’s it all about?

I am the Deputy Principal at Russell Street School in Palmerston North, New Zealand with an ongoing enthusiasm to engage and motivate students through eLearning. My current interest involves exploring how digital portfolios can share, celebrate and promote student learning in an online environment.

Digital portfolios not only have the potential to share student learning outcomes in an interactive and engaging way, but also have the ability to clearly demonstrate and engage parents, students and teachers in assessment for learning.

ePortfolios can show what students are learning, how they are successful, the learning process and enable active engagement in the ongoing feedback and reflection cycle that takes place in order for a student to take ownership and control of their learning.

This research project will explore what teachers can do in order to maximise the formative learning benefits of ePortfolios.