“We use the general term assessment to refer to all those activities undertaken by teachers — and by their students in assessing themselves — that provide information to be used as feedback to modify teaching and learning activities. Such assessment becomes formative assessment when the evidence is actually used to adapt the teaching to meet student needs”. Black, P. & Wiliam, D.
The purpose of the educational process focus on students’ learning, and when students use what has been taught in real life situations, then it can be said that the students are learning and that the objective is being achieved. But, can a test determine this in a classroom? Can I state that my students are learning based on a multiple choice test at the end of a unit? The answers of these questions may vary according to the type of teaching method a person uses.
If this person uses a traditional teaching method that only seeks learners’ knowledge accumulation, then he or she could say “yes”. However, as times have changed and the ways in which people conceive the educational process have changed too, I consider that it is necessary to restate the way in which students are assessed and focus more on students’ performance in order to promote learning and involve them in their own learning process through the use of formative assessment rather than traditional or summative assessment whose aim lies on testing knowledge.
Therefore, if a student takes a test and when he receives his score in terms of numbers or letters and he sees a bad grade, it can give him a negative emotional impact that could discourage him from continuing learning, and the next time he takes a test he will do it just for the sake of getting a good score. So, How about learning? Did it happen? In this situation my answer is an absolutely no!
For the reasons above, it is important to apply a different assessment with a formative function that according to Nicol and Macfarlane-Dick (2005) aids learning by generating feedback information that is of benefit to students and to teachers. Feedback on performance, in class or on assignments, facilitates students to restructure their understanding/skills and build more powerful ideas and capabilities. This kind of assessment is called Formative assessment. With this form of assessment, teachers concentrate more on the how students learn and what they need to learn.
Therefore, in this sort of assessment it is not only fill in the gaps with the correct words or match the sentences with the correct answer and you will get 5 points or an excellent grade, but let’s do this project, let’s carry out this task, how will you solve this problem? What do you think about this? And some other activities in which students can learn by doing. But most important of all, is that students receive a positive feedback about what to improve and change, to have a better performance in the upcoming assignments.
As Shepard, (2008) states, what makes formative assessment formative is that it is immediately used to make adjustments so as to form new learning” Through the use of formative assessment students understand their own learning and develop appropriate strategies for learning to learn, also they build skills for peer – and self-assessment, and they get actively involved in their own learning process rather than merely absorbing information as in a traditional or summative assessment.
Taking everything into consideration, it is my opinion that teachers focus more on students’ performance through the use formative assessment, so learners can develop the patterns of thoughts they need to achieve and be aware of their learning goals, and as students move forward in their learning, they can use personal knowledge to construct meaning, have skills of self-monitoring to realize that they don’t understand something, and have ways of deciding what to do next. Earl, Lorna. (2003). REFERENCES Black, P. & Wiliam, D. (1998).
Inside the Black Box: Raising standards through classroom assessment, King’s College, London. Earl, Lorna. (2003). Assessment As Learning: Using classroom assessment to maximize student learning. Experts in assessment series, Corwin Press Inc. , Thousand Oaks, California. Nicol, David; Macfarlane-Dick, Debra (2005). Rethinking Formative Assessment in HE: a theoretical model and seven principles of good feedback practice. Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education. Shepard, Lorrie A. 2005. The Future of Assessment: Shaping Teaching and Learning, New York.