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Formative Assessment and Feedback

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Formative assessments are usually meant to measure learning in order to provide feedback. This kind of formative feedback is given throughout the duration of the course and is given in a spirit of growth and improvement. It helps students see how well they are understanding and communicating course concepts, what they might be missing, and how they can improve and deepen their learning. It is a crucial part of the learning process.

Benefits of formative feedback

Formative feedback helps students recognize gaps in their knowledge, areas to improve, what support resources they may need, and learning strategies they might change or adapt to meet the course outcomes. Without formative feedback, students may not be aware of their own misunderstandings. This can later lead to confusion and cause students to lose motivation.

Examples of online formative feedback 

Written notes from the instructor

Give students some written feedback on smaller assignments. This can be valuable especially in an online environment where opportunities for informal in-person feedback are less frequent.

To avoid spending too much time responding to every small assignment, consider creating a spreadsheet or grid with your students' names, keeping track of when you give certain students feedback on smaller assignments. This way you can distribute feedback equitably, ensuring that all students at some point in the quarter receive some feedback on a small assignment before receiving a grade or final feedback on a larger assignment.

Audio-based memos from the instructor

Recording an audio message can be a great way to communicate feedback that you might have otherwise given in-person. It can also be motivating to students to hear your voice and receive feedback in a way that might feel more informal. Be prepared to be flexible if some students need written text instead of audio.

Video feedback from the instructor

When giving feedback on a student project or assignment heavy in visuals, it might be helpful to create video feedback of you interacting with their work. This kind of feedback can include audio feedback, a screen-recording, and a camera recording of the instructor.

Showing your students what you're seeing and noticing about their work can be extremely powerful. Do keep accessibility concerns in mind if you choose to leave feedback in this way, noting when students might not be able to access or engage with visuals.