With the myriad of options available for digital assessment tools, teachers and other professionals can easily be overwhelmed. Teachers are choosy (Molnar, 2017). What they seek is a versatile, quick, comprehensive suite of testing options that offer ease of access, use, sharing, display and data aggregation. GoFormative is an excellent choice to meet these needs.
Formerly known as SmartestK12, GoFormative “is a web-based tool that allows teachers to create assignments, deliver them to students, receive results, and provide individualized feedback in real-time” (www.edsurge.com, 2018). Using this free app, teachers can click on ready-made assignments and quizzes or create their own as they seek to engage their students, while assessing the development of student learning. Assignments can be graded manually or automatically, with the option to leave guiding comments for individual students.
Formative is a valuable tool for teachers in a variety of settings, including the flipped classroom option. Embed videos or texts within assignments for instruction and student reflection during non-meeting days, or assign a reflection piece regarding the content after a class meeting. More creative assessments are available through Formative with the options to draw, speak or annotate responses. “Two-way communications…and group collaboration would add to Formative’s engagement factor” (Rogowski, 2018), while teachers follow class contributions, knowledge development, and note possible gaps.
SImilar to Kahoot and Socrative, Formative is more highly recommended in part because only a class code is needed (students do not have to have an account and students at younger ages are not allowed to anyway), plus it offers the option to show your work and use the library of mathematical figures easily. The tool does not have built-in colorful displays and music in the way that Kahoot achieves popularity with students, but it does offer teachers a “cleverly designed…, flexible and attractive solution for [meeting] students where they are” (Rogowski, 2018).
Even though GoFormative works best in “banking education” settings (Behrens & Dicerbo, 2014)–meaning that the quiz options available in GoFormative generally have right and wrong answers–it is still a tool that could be used by creative teachers in a preferred “problem-posing” assignment style (Behrens & Dicerbo, 2014). Features such as text annotation, graphing, audio response, and the whiteboard offer clever and research-based impetus to find more authentic, collaborative ways to assess student learning (Clark & Arvith, 2017).
Formative has other theoretical benefits. Because of its digital nature, it can be embedded into lessons naturally and avoid the obtrusive nature of other types of assessments. This makes data more reliable since the environment within which assessment is happening does not stop for a test (Behrens & Dicerbo, 2014). With the option to view and share incoming answers, teachers can create a social environment for learning, also supported by constructivist educators and researchers such as Behrens & Dicerbo (2014).
Using tools such as Formative, teachers can move toward a more transformational teaching stance. “If our students are to succeed in this 21st Century world, it’s important that we transition from traditional, teacher-led educational practices to ones that effectively incorporate technology and focus on our students and their need for differentiated learning” (Clark & Arvith, 2017, p. 126). Tech tools for assessment can help teaching be personalized–immediately! Students are given a voice–daily! They become more comfortable taking initiative for their learning, as lessons become more dynamic, “led by student questions, prior knowledge, curiosities, and needs” (Clark & Arvith, 2017, p. 126). Features within Formative allow for this sort of interaction as teachers focus on the process of learning. In truth, “Formative is a teaching style, not just a type of assessment” (Jones, 2015).
Not only is Formative versatile and its use based on quality research, using it aligns with portions of ISTE Standard #3 for students: Research and Information Fluency. This is where “students apply digital tools to gather, evaluate, and use information,…plan strategies to guide inquiry,…locate, organize, analyze, evaluate, synthesize, and ethically use information from a variety of sources and media,…evaluate and select information sources and digital tools based on the appropriateness to specific tasks,…and process data and report results” (ISTE Standards Students, 2017). Formative usage could encourage students to gather and share information, possibly strategize with a peer, synthesize information in an essay, organize concepts collected in the wordbank, graph findings, and print/share reports.
Most importantly, using Formative leads away from isolation and toward transfer of information, both goals of 21st Century learning (Behrens & Dicerbo, 2017). Formative affords the student a chance to see and interact with the learning process of peers. As students come to understand that they have learned material, they are better able to transfer it in even more authentic assessment opportunities. The tech tool itself does not create the learning; rather, it is the human element engaging with the tool (Daly, Pachler, Mor & Mellar, 2010). Those teachers who engage in classroom assessment understand that classroom assessment is “the most powerful type of measurement in education that influences student learning” (McMillan, J., 2013, p. 4). Formative and other similar digital tools are logical choices in this endeavor.
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