Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Formative Assessment: The Key to Maximizing Student Potential

A Post on Student Achievement Best Practices

By Elizabeth Williams, Math Teacher

Save your seat today for Conscious Teaching's FREE Webinar on April 25!  

Useful feed is essential to student achievement best practices. Students must be able to use it to improve.When I started teaching fresh out of college four years ago, I thought that I would be able to teach my students math using the same methods my teachers used. We were taught the material, did homework every night for practice, and then took a test at the end of every chapter.  My first year of teaching I covered nearly the whole Algebra curriculum using this method. The students did not do well on tests and never did their homework. This method was not working. I thought my goal was to TEACH everything, now I realize that my goal is for the students to LEARN as much as they can. The key to this change in mentality is to use formative assessments, not summative assessments. Formative assessments should give students feedback to reflect on and make goals to improve their knowledge and understanding.

Feedback is a critical component of assessment. I use responders in my lessons so that students get immediate individual feedback whether they are right or wrong. We also have discussions about how someone could have reached an incorrect answer. Personal interaction between the teacher and student is also important for students to understand where they need to improve. Another type of feedback is the teacher’s comments on a test. Questions should not just be right or wrong, students should know where they make a mistake.

Once feedback is given, students need to be taught how to use that feedback to improve. Students should look at each question that was incorrect and assess whether it was a careless error or they didn’t understand. If they didn’t understand they need to ask the teacher or another student to help. Then they should redo the problem. The teacher should give them credit for redoing the problem correctly. Once they have reflected on the reasons for their errors, students need to make specific goals to improve.

Finally, the teacher needs to ask the question:  “Are students ready to move on?” Sometimes the students should be retested after the topics have been taught using different methods. The teacher should make specific goals regarding what to do differently and where the students need to be before the class goes to the next topic.

I don’t cover nearly as much material as I used to, but I feel like my students actually LEARN more.  Both teachers and students need to make reflect on their work and make specific goals to reach their full potential.

Useful feed is essential to student achievement best practices. Students must be able to use it to improve.
Elizabeth Williams, Math Teacher, Midland Trail High School, WV

About the Author: I am in my fourth year teaching math in WV.  I graduated with a B.S. in Mathematics from Davidson College and a M.A. in Teaching from Marshall University.  I love trying new teaching strategies and using technology in the classroom.

No comments:

Post a Comment