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Formative Assessments and Fitness Bands

by Janice Florent

In a recent Faculty Focus article, Dr. Karen Buchanan, associate professor of education at George Fox University, compared formative assessments and fitness bands. In the article, Dr. Buchanan explained how a fitness band changed the life of a colleague because of the continuous feedback provided about her progress toward her fitness goal.

The goal of formative assessment is to monitor student learning and provide ongoing feedback that can be used by instructors to improve their teaching and by students to improve their learning. More specifically, formative assessments:

  • Help students identify their strengths and weaknesses and target areas that need work
  • Help faculty recognize where students are struggling and address problems immediately
person checking the activity indicator on their fitness band

Fitness bands are popular because they work. The fitness band:

  • Provides clear, timely data on users progress
  • Helps users see where their current data sits in relation to their goals
  • Provides users with feedback and/or tips aimed at improving their performance
  • Celebrates milestones using a variety of electronic methods

The continuous feedback and progress toward goal is formative assessment.

Can instructors be as effective as a fitness band? Here are two suggestions for providing students with helpful feedback:

  • Be detailed in your feedback - Be specific and give examples. How can students implement your suggestions if they are missing, minimal, or vague?
  • Stay current in grading - How can students implement your suggestions if they are not given in a timely manner?

Embracing the power of formative assessment will help you increase the quality of your teaching and help students to improve their metacognitive awareness of how they learn.

For more information read Dr. Buchanan’s article What Fitness Bands Can Teach Us about Classroom Assessment.

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