How can teachers use assessment as a tool to motivate students to improve?
This is a challenging question because often students think of assessment as summative or a final grade that defines their performance. This type of grading, although necessary, does not give opportunities for student growth. Using formative assessment provides both the teacher and student with feedback that can improve academic achievement. Teachers should be involved in an ongoing learning process to identify problems or questions that exist in their own teaching practice. Teachers should use feedback from formative assessment to analyze data, reflect on the process, and make decisions that will improve instruction. It should be an ongoing process designed to bring positive change to improve student learning. Similar to teachers, students should also be engaged with using feedback from formative assessment to improve their learning. As teachers, we need to help shift students’ view of assessment from a grade to a tool for improvement.
Teachers should first begin by setting clear objectives to establish and communicate learning goals. Setting objectives helps students understand the purpose for their learning. It also provides clear direction for instruction and expectations for meeting the learning target. Setting objectives guides students through the learning process. It helps them make connections between the learning activities and how they apply to what they are expected to learn. Marzano (2007) suggests writing a rubric or scale for each learning goal. This gives students descriptions of each level of understanding so they know what performance is needed to reach the learning target (p. 19, 23). Feedback and formative assessment should then be used to guide student progress towards understanding of the learning objective. Teachers should provide feedback that helps students improve their understanding of the learning objective and that helps students make a connection between the learning activities and the learning objective. Students should then have opportunities to track their progress and celebrate their growth. According to Marzano (2007), reinforcing students’ efforts and providing recognition helps student see a direct relationship between how hard they work and how they learn (p. 14). O’Connor (2009) states, “Feedback in the form of words can be very motivational. If teachers indicate one or two strengths and one or two weaknesses, they have a basis for discussions with individual students to help them improve their work” (p. 125). In order for students to use feedback from formative assessment, Marzano (2007) recommends that feedback address what is correct and what students need to do next. It should be timely so students have an opportunity to make improvements until they succeed. Students should also be able to reference criterion so they know the standards for meeting the target (p.11).
“Does this count towards our grade?” is a question that I often hear when an assignment is given. The problem with this is that grades have become the motivation to achieve. If a grade isn’t attached to the assignment the motivation to perform well decreases. Similarly, after a grade has been given, motivation to make improvements decreases. As a teacher I may need to adjust my practice in order to adjust my students’ view of assessment. Students may need more opportunities to use feedback and make improvements before a grade is given. This is where “grading in pencil” may serve as a way to motivate students to make improvements. According to O’ Connor (2009), students need to know that school is not just about grades but about learning. Students need to know learning is a process where it is okay to make mistakes that will not “count” (p. 116).
In my own classroom, my goal is to strengthen students’ opportunities to be a part of the feedback process. Currently, students participate in self-assessment and goal setting at each report card period. They set goals for academics, work habits, and behavior. However, these goals are not specific to learning targets and are not timely for making improvements in specific content areas. This artifact http://www.ecu.edu/cs-educ/opd/upload/GoalSettingwithTests.pdf is a link to supplementary material from Classroom Assessment for Student Learning: Doing it Right – Using It Well (Chappuis, Stiggins, Chappuis, & Arter, 2012). On page 5 and 6 is an elementary version of a self-reflection and goal setting sheet. This would be a great tool to use in my classroom after students complete a quiz or a practice test. O’Connor (2009) suggests giving students opportunities to practice before taking assessments that count directly in grades (p. 131). Students would have a visual of each learning target and the problem it corresponds with. As long as the student had an opportunity to improve his or her score, the goal setting sheet would be a helpful tool in helping the student understand what he or she needs more practice with.
Please see link for references: Module4References