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How technology is transforming everyday assessment

By Wendy Choi – Learning in Assessment Manager, IB

This blogpost is the first of a series of blogs that will cover the trends and innovations of formative assessment in Diploma Programme (DP) classrooms, illustrating the excellent examples gathered from IB World Schools that took part in the Formative Assessment Good Practices Project.

An infographic illustrating formative assessment as a dialogue and process
An infographic illustrating formative assessment as a dialogue and process

How is digital technology transforming learning and assessments in DP classrooms? Does digital technology enhance formative assessment by changing the way students and teachers share learning objectives, collect evidence of learning, analyse data and provide personalised feedback and feedforward? (See infographic above) Could it potentially redefine formative assessments by allowing us to assess knowledge and skills that were previously hard to assess in a paper and pencil task?

In our Formative Assessment Good Practices Project, we had the opportunity to visit IB World Schools in various regions and observe excellent practices of formative assessments in different school contexts. One element that stood out was that digital formative assessment has become a  prominent part of everyday learning and teaching in classrooms.

For example, many teachers design online quizzes and short response questions on game-based learning platforms as a quick way to assess students’ concepts and misconceptions on a topic.

A DP teacher in Physics explained that the auto-marking function and visualisation of the apps allowed them and their students to see the class’s responses immediately. It also allowed students to debate and discuss with each other when their answers differed. Teachers could then ask follow-up questions to evaluate the reasoning behind students’ unexpected responses. These activities provided valuable feedback to both learners and teachers on whether certain concepts can be strengthened or retaught.

Personalized Learning

Another reason why digital formative assessment is great is that it could help personalise learning and assessment and minimize assessment biases. Tapping into students’ strengths and interests, a Theory of Knowledge (TOK) teacher asked their students to create a digital formative assessment task by creating and sharing either a:

Two minute video
One page summary

By using multi-modal assessments and allowing students to choose an assessment mode of their preference, DP teachers were able to minimize assessment biases and make sure that they were assessing the conceptual understanding and higher-level thinking skills that they aim to assess, and not just students’ ability to organise and express their thoughts in essay writing.

For example, Emeli Ward, a Middle Years Programme (MYP) and DP teacher at NIST International School (Thailand) asked her Spanish B students to write a blog related to the cultural identity of an island located in Perú, attending to the text type, organization of paragraphs, cohesive devices and the positive and negative aspects related to the effects of tourism and the theme “identities”.

A visual representation of all of Emeli's students blogs.

Emeli explained how using an interactive blog format allowed her and her students to provide instant feedback and recommendations to each other and make revisions at the same time.

“I think it’s an easy way for me to see a student’s performance immediately, and at the same time, it is very engaging for them.”

Student-led assessments

Other IB teachers have designed similar activities of self-assessment. For example, instead of creating teacher-led assessments, some teachers ask IB students to create their own onscreen formative assessment tasks and success criteria for their peers. The use of student generated tests promotes:

  • student agency
  • helps learners internalise success criteria
  • encourages them to demostrate advanced understanding of concepts and skills using questioning, peer assessment and providing feedback to one another.

The use of digital formative assessment has allowed learners and teachers to assess important skills and knowledge that were previously hard to assess using paper and pencil. IB teachers who are leading innovations in formative assessment found that digital learning platforms facilitate the assessment of skills such as collaboration and groupwork, processing speed, reflection and students’ ability to respond to feedback.

“For instance, an Individuals and Societies teacher from King’s Edward Witley School (UK) explained “Functions like analytics help me understand whether my students were able to focus on and complete an extended reading task assigned to them online. I know when a student may need extra help with their reading comprehension skills instead of their subject specific skills and knowledge.

These are just a few examples of the exciting potential that digital formative assessment offers when combined with expertise and innovations of IB teachers.

How do you incorporate technology into everyday assessment? Let us know in the comments below👇🏼

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