Cauley and Mc Millan (2009) define formative assessment as, “A process through which assessment-elicited evidence of student learning is gathered and instruction is modified in response to feedback” (p. The authors suggest the use of feedback in the process, but suggest a steering away from performance-goal oriented extrinsic motivators such as grades.
Emphasis on performance and grades during the formative process can be detrimental to eventual student achievement because it might shift student focus away from their goal of mastery of course material to concern over the way their abilities might be judged by their peers (Cauley & Mc Millan, 2009, p. Constructive feedback throughout this process maintains the focus on mastery goals created at the outset, and provides the student with the support necessary to make connections between new learning and prior knowledge.
Third, presenting the authentic performance tasks at the beginning of a new unit or course provides a meaningful learning goal for the student. 2) Waiting until the end of a unit, however, to measure student learning is a mistake, since the time for instruction and learning of that material has ended.
It is in the course of the instruction and learning process that Mc Tighe and O’Connor also place importance on the formative assessment process.
Homework is a form of formative assessment, along with draft work, ungraded quizzes and other exercises used with the intent of guiding and instructing the student to promote higher-level cognitive connections.
Placing little or no emphasis on grades on those types of exercises and activities allows for focus on the mastery goal, and keeps feedback constructive.Mc Millan, Myran and Workman (2002) conducted a study of over 900 teachers in order to investigate the assessment and grading practices in practice.The authors used surveys returned by a sample of 901 participating teachers of grades 3-5, representing a total population of 1,561 teachers of those grade levels from 124 schools near Richmond, Virginia.Amongst the policies reported by the other half of the participating schools, most of the policies specified the type or quality of homework to be assigned, and allowed some flexibility in the assignment and evaluation of homework. This study documented the importance of flexibility in the assignment and evaluation of quality homework assignments, but also the alarming lack of a written homework policy in 50% of the participating schools.The authors indicated: Particularly encouraging signs were that a variety of types of homework were suggested, and the focus of homework assignment was toward meaningful, creative, and high-level thinking endeavors... It can be drawn from this study that some type of homework policy is necessary, as is the assignment of higher cognitive types of homework and the flexible assessment and grading of that work in order to foster and track student learning.The surveys featured a 6-point scale for participants to rate the emphasis they placed on different assessment and grading practices, with 1 being Given the relatively low emphasis on homework, comparisons with other students, other teachers’ grading, and the infrequent occurrence of borderline cases, these results suggest that teachers conceptualize two major ingredients – actual performance, and effort, ability, and improvement.Of these two, academic performance clearly is most important, but effort, ability, and improvement remain as fairly important, especially for some teachers. 209) This study documents the importance of homework in the construction of knowledge, but also identifies the fact that there was little emphasis placed on the grades for that work.He goes on to specify that grades recorded must measure the student’s achievement of the learning goals established at the outset of the unit.This suggestion is aligned with the information provided by Cauley and Mc Millan (2009), which emphasizes the importance of setting mastery goals prior to the instruction process.His approach pushes for a more standards based approach in determining grades, combining formative assessment to track students’ grasp of lesson concepts as they learn, enabling adjustment of teaching practice on-the-fly, and summative assessment in the form of a test or quiz, which measures the level of student knowledge and understanding after the learning process.This is also a valuable tool for the teacher, as they may be better able to gauge the efficacy of their lessons and unit.