FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT IN A CHEMISTRY COURSE THROUGH FEEDBACK AND FEED-FORWARD STRATEGIES
The importance of assessment in Higher Education as a formative tool has been broadly discussed in literature due its remarkable influence in student achievement and learning. In contrast to summative assessment, which is mainly focused to obtain a final grade for the student, formative assessment provides a collaborative framework that generates useful feedback information that can be used by both learners and teachers. However, an adequate strategy of assessment has to provide feedback different from that which is limited to give information to the students to improve their performance with no improvement in the final mark; it should also offer appropriate suggestions and guidance helping students to identify the gaps in their knowledge, which will have a significantly greater effect on future learners’ improvement and also improve the final mark in the global evaluation. This different approach known as feed-forward provides an excellent solution for both teachers and learners; in one hand, students can employ the provided information to improve their performance, and in other hand, it serves to tutors as convenient tool to realign their teaching in response to learners’ needs.
This article describes the employment of new assessment strategies that support learning through student involvement in the process, providing feedback in a forward-looking way that prompts reasoning in learners, which will impact on their future performance. The designed assessment tasks were oriented to develop and grade analytical and critical thinking in students, which is considered as one of the main key skills that students should have in science grades, resulting highly powerful for their future understanding and good performing in the subject during the course. A three-stage procedure was implemented in a blended learning environment supported by a recent open-source educational application. The employment of new technologies has facilitated the contact between tutors and students as well as they have succeeded for the constant monitoring of students’ performance allowing readjust or modify the process when necessary. The experience described here provides a significant improvement to previous approaches, shortening the time of the process but keeping or even increasing the level of mastery reached by learners at the end of the study. This has also led to a high level of acceptance and satisfaction in students enrolled in the course.