Why formative assessment is important in schools? (+ How gamification helps)

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What was your assessment pattern in school? How were you graded or judged on the understanding of a subject?

Most of us will agree when we say – traditionally – we use test-based assessments to measure how much students have learned up to a particular point in time. What we do in this style is assessment “OF” learning according to the standards set by teachers, schools, boards or districts.

No doubt, assessment of learning is important if we were to ascribe grades to students based on what they have learned (and, what teachers have achieved in terms of imparting knowledge).

That said, there is a missing element which needs to be focused on and i.e. assessment FOR learning or formative assessment. Formative assessments are all about supporting learning throughout the process (and, not just judging by one exam) and does not require you to grade students. Instead, the focus is on understanding what has been taught, reflecting on it and practicing for a better grasp of knowledge.

Formative assessments also guide teachers about the future method of instruction and make students better at what they are already doing.

So, what exactly does formative assessment include?

Anything and everything that allows you to check for and gather evidence of understanding. For example,

  • Summaries and Reflections: You can leave out 10 minutes in each class for students to stop and reflect on what they have heard, derive meanings from other areas and relate it to any experience.

 

  • Engage students in making lists, charts, or allowing them to organize information in any way which includes making connections

 

  • Collaborative opportunities (for example, building a report or writing an essay ) where students can discuss what they have learned

Still unclear? Let us take a hypothetical example – 

You divide the students into 4 groups of 2 students each and ask them to write a report on why certain parts of Maharashtra receives adequate rainfall and a few others (like Marathwada) face drought every year.

If they conclude that even when the average rainfall in the country is on the higher side; the average rainfall in Marathwada region ONLY increases by 9% is adequate evidence that certain places in Maharashtra face drought.

If they are unable to explain the data they have analyzed, you get a reflection of how much they have understood and how they are unable to relate different pieces of data available. You can give them the time or ask questions directing them to a certain type of analysis. Let’s say – if students were to say, that Marathwada is under the south-west monsoon winds and by the time they reach eastern sides, they have lost considerable amounts of moisture (and, hence, the meager 9% increase). That’s why we believe that this is significant support for our claim that certain parts of Maharashtra face drought while others don’t.”

Now, you can tell them how the existing report includes claim and evidence but does not relate to each other. However, what they said right now is the perfect explanation and needs to be included in their report instead. At that moment, those students learn what it means to form an evidence-based conclusion as part of that scientific process.

If the students, on asking questions and directing them to an answer, are able to develop a logical argument, it is a clear indication of understanding. However, if they don’t, it allows the teacher to rethink the instruction methodology.

The problem with formative assessment lies in the fact that it takes time to assess students along the way and teachers are often stuck with wanting to cover the syllabus for the classroom. In this want of moving forward quickly, the students feel rushed and are able to learn (and, remember) much lesser than they should be.

That said, formative assessments need not ALWAYS take time. While a few tactics may take time, there are other simpler ways of doing it as well (for example, quizzes).

Now that we understand what formative assessment is, the next question seems logical –

Why is this important?

  • First off, it allows students the time to reflect on what they hear in the classroom, ponder over it, relate it to other subjects and develop a deeper sense of understanding. In this case, students are less likely to mug things up and remember it for a longer time!

 

  • Secondly, students get a better understanding of teachers expectations and develop a healthier relationship. Basically, it creates a risk-free environment where making productive isn’t frowned upon or dismissed. Instead, mistakes are seen as productive!

 

  • Students are able to understand how to complete a task in a more efficient and impressive manner. It encourages students to think differently and logically. For example, refining the message in the example we discussed above.

Not only do students learn in a better and productive assessment structure, but teachers are also able to get focused feedback on their teaching styles and know where they can improve.

And, hence, we developed Playablo to accommodate formative assessment and allow teachers/schools to use gamification of learning in a meaningful way. As you may have understood by now, formative assessment is all about knowing the strengths and weaknesses of individual students and working on it.

Keeping this in mind, we developed Playablo for school and included formative assessment techniques. To name a few

  • Playablo gives the teacher a dashboard view of the classrooms performance for each subject.
  • Playablo shows a unique breakdown of competency performance in every subject and compares the same with students across the sections.
  • This gives deep insights into the students level of understanding of the Subject.
  • Playablo assists the teacher in identifying the students who are performing below the class average and whom the teacher can provide more attention to bring them on par.
  • The teacher can drill down into the performance reports of the student to find the areas which need improvement.
  • Playablo combines the academic curriculum custom made for every school with gamified Quiz to make education a fun filled experience.
  • The teacher can create unique assignments for each skill for an entire classroom or for individual students.
  • Ability to dynamically create quizzes with varying complexities
  • Students receive feedback instantaneously and do not have to wait until the next class. 

These features allow schools and teachers to understand the progress of each student in their classroom and use formative assessment in form of quizzes to ensure a deeper understanding of the subjects. For example, when you ask students to read before the class, set a formative quiz that will guide their reading and help them understand what they have read. You can also set a quiz for when you have finished teaching a section of your course (or a single chapter). This makes your teaching more responsive, and more informed.

There you go!

Now, you know what is formative assessments and how gamification tools like Playablo can help you implement it for the better. 

Only if we deviate from test-based assessments a bit and adopt basic formative assessment techniques, teachers will be able to practice, become effective and impact the lives of students in the fashion they always want to.

Are you ready to understand your students in a better fashion? Do you have questions about Playablo or formative assessments in general? We would love to hear from you.

If you are interested in a demo of Playablo for Schools (a gamified learning and assessment app), email us at curious@playablo.com or call us at +91-97408 78833

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