Formative assessments are essential to provide feedback and show progress towards learning objectives. In an online or blended course, these assessments can quickly provide instructors and students instant feedback more quickly than in a face-to-face course.
In a brick and mortar classroom effective teachers can informally assess students' progress through reading body language, eye contact, observing the amount of time students spend on assignments, and various forms of discourse. Unfortunately, online and blended instructors do not know when students are experiencing difficulty or confusion.
Online and blended instructors must rely on more formalized, formative assessments that are built and provided through the LMS, through discussions, and using Web 2.0 Tools.
Read the article "Formative Assessment & Monitoring Student Progress"
Formative Assessments in an LMS
Many Learning Management Systems provide analytic information, including the amount of time spent on a module and frequency of course access. The online environment offers a variety of ways to assign formative assessments. Many LMSs offer the ability to create interactive online lessons that provide instant feedback, similar to the ones used throughout this course. These activities can be integrated into a lesson in a variety of ways including:
- Comprehensive quiz questions
- Labeling and sorting activities
- Word searches
- Crossword activities
- Pop-up annotations
The inherent benefit in the online environment is that students can:
- Check for understanding
- Move at their own pace
- Individually interact with the content
Increasingly, textbook publishers are providing online formative assessment activities as part of their digital support materials.
Discussions as Formative Assessments
Properly structured threaded discussions can be utilized as formative assessment to check for student understanding. A series of narrowly focused discussions could be arranged as incremental milestones to check for student progress. The personalized comments in each discussion could provide valuable feedback that indicates whether the online instructor should continue, or reteach a concept. In Module 4, you learned effective discussion development strategies. By providing the expectations and a rubric, you now see that you are able to determine next steps of your instruction based upon student response.
Threaded discussions are also an opportunity for a Socratic seminar, whereby the teacher can monitor student comprehension, ask deeper questions, and direct discussions to the desired curricular goal.