How I Got Started Using Technology To Assess Student Learning

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How I Got Started Using Technology To Assess Student Learning

by Rachelle Ploth

If you are looking for another way to integrate technology into your classroom, why not start with assessment?

In order to learn what our students need and how we can better design our lessons to prepare them, we use formative and summative assessments.  Assessments are vital in for determining what learning has occurred, what areas need to be reinforced, and what our next steps must be. This kind of information helps to guide our instruction and provide additional opportunities for our students. Assessments give us the information we need to provide feedback to them, to guide their learning, and to set new goals.

(See ‘The Most Important Question Every Question Should Answer.’)

Providing timely, relevant learning feedback is essential to personal growth and reflection for student learning.  So how can we make assessments more effective, informative and engaging too?

Why use technology for assessments?

Depending on the number of classes and students in each class, creating assessments in a variety of forms, grading them and providing feedback in a timely manner, can become quite time consuming. However, with the numerous digital tools available, teachers have many choices available for assessing students.

Options exist for using quick entrance and exit slips, surveys, having students interact in discussions both in and outside of the classroom, just for a few examples. There are so many possibilities, and what’s even better is how quickly results are obtained, can be evaluated and feedback provided to the students.

Teachers have choices in the types of feedback they receive. In addition to live results, teachers can save data in downloadable spreadsheets, receive emails with the results and some tools offer other formats as well. These all enhance the ability of teachers to further their understanding of where the students are in terms of their learning and what areas need a bit more focus and instruction.

What changes will you notice in your classroom?

As a foreign language teacher, I need to assess my students regularly because learning a foreign language, especially at the lower levels, requires an ongoing evaluation of the students’ understanding and ability to use the language.  Providing regular feedback is critical for students to learn structure, build their vocabulary and enhance the four language skills.

Teachers with larger classes find that providing assessments and giving feedback to the students in a timely manner can be challenging and need a way to make this process easier.  However, sometimes due to other time constraints, or the length of assessments, grading student work and returning it the next day, in spite of one’s best efforts, is not always possible, and for this there are solutions.

With the variety of digital tools available, many of these concerns have disappeared and make a tremendous difference in the efficiency of classrooms and teaching procedures, and the types of assessments that teachers can create for students to meet the diverse learning styles.

Where to begin: What are some tools to start with?

Using tools such as GoFormative, Kahoot!, Quizizz, Riddle, Survey Monkey, and others like these, I have quickly created discussion questions, quizzes, reflection surveys, or combination of all of these.  There are so many options for creating formative assessments by using any of these and other tools available today.  As the students finish, teachers can see the live results or download the results directly to their computer, and can analyze the data in a variety of ways. It is a great way to focus on the needs of each individual student, but also for the class as a whole, to address what the areas are that the students need some help with.

Integrating tools for assessment such as these, makes the use of entrance and exit slips easier and quicker to use.  Having students complete an entrance slip for example, using one of these tools at the beginning of a period, enables you to have the results within a few minutes and use this valuable feedback to help guide the lesson for the day and make changes as needed based on the data.  The results can then provide valuable feedback to the students, one on one, and help them to work on their personal growth and reflection.

Teachers can refer back to the results to track student growth, to note patterns in certain classes or students, and to work with students on determining strengths and weaknesses. I have found it very beneficial to my professional growth and use these results to reflect on my instructional methods. Paper assessments get lost but assessments created using one of these tools are stored and can be referred to as often as needed.

Benefits of using digital tools for assessment

So many options are available for assessing students, giving them a way to express thoughts, learning and be involved in the classroom. These tools enable teachers to conduct this type of evaluative work faster, decreases the paperwork, and provides more time for working with the students using the data.  Students benefit because they have this feedback when they need it most and also learn additional vital technology skills in the process.

Some quick examples: Use GoFormative to have students complete assessments in class, respond to them with feedback instantly and track their progress. They can draw, write, watch a video and much more. Kahoot! and Quizizz can be used in class as an engaging way to assess students and then use the information to focus on areas which need review. Quizizz can even be assigned as homework, which students actually ask for.

And taking it a step further, students can create their own games with either of these, further enhancing their learning and involvement in the course. Riddle and Survey Monkey can be used for quizzes, reflective surveys, and more, it all depends on what your needs are.

These are just a few of many ways to use these tools. Each of the tools mentioned can be used in any grade level or subject area and they do not require students to create an account but can be shared simply through a shareable URL, posted on a class website or written on the board.  The ability to design, share and evaluate students using these and other tools is remarkable
So if you’re looking for better, more effective ways to provide feedback to your students, and to reduce the amount of paper used, I recommend trying out one of these tools.

There are many options available but these are just a few that I used when I started integrating more technology into my classroom and that have had a tremendous impact on the assessments I have created for students. My students have responded positively and truly enjoy having alternate ways to show what they know and can do with the material.

Using these tools really enables teachers to personalize instruction and help students to reach their fullest potential in the classroom.

How I Got Started Using Technology To Assess Student Learning; image attribution flickr user flickeringbrad

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