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Week 4 introduction

Welcome to Week 4 of the course! Hear from Cat Scutt and Christian Bokhove about the week ahead and engage with this week's research evidence.
Welcome back to the fourth and final module of this online course. In this module, we’ll be exploring research, practice, and current thinking around assessment and feedback and the role that technology might play in supporting these. You’ll also have the chance to think about a possible change to your own, your departmental, or your school’s existing practice. Research suggests that high-quality feedback can be one of the most effective ways of improving student attainment but we also know that not all feedback is particularly effective and that marking can be a major contributor to teacher workload.
That’s why it’s worth taking the time to reflect on our current assessment and feedback practices ,considering how effective they might be and looking at alternative approaches that might be enabled both with and without the use of technology. An obvious but important starting point is that feedback is not synonymous with written marking. Although an expectation of written comments on pupil work is still relatively widespread in the school system, there are other ways to provide feedback to individuals or to groups of students which may be less time-consuming. For example, there’s growing use of verbal feedback and technology offers some interesting possibilities here; enabling teachers to record verbal responses to work rather than giving them during class.
Visualisers can also be used to share examples of responses with a whole class in a lesson, as part of whole class feedback. Possibilities for new approaches to assessment itself include online assessments with automatic marking of some question types; reducing teacher workload while also providing rich data from these to help inform future teaching. And there’s growing interest in the use of comparative judgement engines for summative assessment of longer written answers. These are based around the idea of teachers comparing two responses to a question at a time and simply selecting which is the better of the two.
To consider some of these ideas around technology for assessment and feedback in more depth and share insights from research and practice in this area, here is Professor Christian Bokhove. Hi, I’m Christian Bokhove and I’m Associate Professor in Mathematics Education within Southampton Education School at the University of Southampton. When it comes to technology, it would be hard to not be aware of some of its advantages. In fact, right now you are watching a video and you most likely will be using all kinds of technology to communicate and prepare your next lesson. However, like all teaching it can be executed well and it can be executed pretty poorly.
It’s not about the technology as a goal in itself but as a support for students’ learning, whether directly via the student or via the teacher or other medium. So when we are confronted with disappointing research findings for technology, it is important to unpick what works rather than blanket approval or disapproval. Looking at research, one of the affordances can be with assessment and feedback. Escueta and others, in their review, concluded that personalisation computer assisted learning can be quite effective in helping students learn, particularly with maths.
Now I know that the word personalisation sometimes evokes negative reactions but if we take it as technology giving tasks at an appropriate difficulty, often called adaptivity, or providing immediate feedback that might correct any misconceptions then that makes a lot of sense. The best examples of such feedback involve pinpointing and saying exactly what a student has done wrong in a task, including suggestions or worked examples to improve. The amount of feedback can even be scaffolded; a lot in the beginning when you’re starting out with learning, gradually decreasing when you start to become more proficient. Note that some systems also allow for more open tasks with accompanying feedback. It does not have to be restricted to, for example, multiple-choice questions.
Also remember that such use is likely to mean that the students overall simply spend more time retrieving the learning content, an example of retrieval practice. This can make homework more useful as well. But such systems can also tell teachers how well students mastered the content and form a basis for instruction if some misconceptions occur frequently. We need to use technology in a way that complements teaching and learning as an integrated part of school learning.
In Week 4, we will be exploring how effective feedback and assessment approaches might be supported by education technologies through engaging with what research evidence has to tell us and what school case studies might reveal.

We’ll be exploring answers to the following questions:

  • How can assessment and feedback approaches be made most effective?
  • How might technology support effective assessment and feedback approaches?
  • How might technology and research evidence support changes to marking workload?

Cat Scutt, Director of Education and Research at the Chartered College of Teaching and Christian Bokhove, Associate Professor of Mathematics Education at the University of Southampton introduce you to some of the week’s core concepts and research evidence in this week’s video introduction.

Throughout the week’s learning ahead, we encourage you to take a look at what others have posted, replying to your peers as well as posting your own responses so that our community of learning continues to flourish.

When you’ve watched the video and made any notes to record key learning points, click the ‘Mark as complete’ button below and then select ‘Discuss your practice’ to continue your learning.
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Using Technology in Evidence-Based Teaching and Learning

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