I am taking two courses this semester to finally finish up the requirements so I can file for teacher certification in Idaho. In one of the courses, my reading this evening included this except from the National Center for Fair and Open Testing (NCFOT):
Black and William report that studies of formative assessment show an effect size on standardized tests of between 0.4 and 0.7, larger than most known educational interventions. (The effect size is the ratio of the average improvement in test scores in the innovation to the range of scores of typical groups of pupils on the same tests). . . . Formative assessment is particularly effective for students who have not done well in school, thus narrowing the gap between low and high achievers while raising overall achievement (NCFOT, 1999, ¶ 4).
Which reminded me, forcefully, that I do not have enough formative assessment built into my Nolat Labs course game. It’s integrated thoroughly in my Gnimmargorp game; nearly every activity is a formative assessment. But it’s nearly missing from Nolat Labs. I need to build it in as thoroughly as I have for my other game.
But as I wrote that, I realized just how much work it will be to properly integrate. To have formative assessment done well, there need to be clear and frequent opportunities for students to check their own progress. That will mean, among other things:
- Building multiple versions of exams covering the same topics, so students can take the formative exams and receive feedback about their areas of strength and weakness without compromising the final exam(s).
- Writing built-in feedback about the areas of strength and weakness, which will involve adding feedback information to every question in the question-bank.
- Creating exemplars of each project, in a range of results from mediocre to outstanding, so students can compare their work against a know standard and determine their current success and further needs.
Whew! That’s going to be a lot of work. But I believe…no, I know it will be worth the effort and time. Because I already have that in Gnimmargorp and I know just how powerful it is for student learning. Seeing their own results and knowing exactly what to do to improve them, or what to ask in order to understand more fully, is one of the most powerful tools I’ve given students in my games. So I’ll get started.