Assessments are the unloved orphan of schooling — no-one likes them. They are typically named as one of the most time-consuming activities for teachers, and debates continue on how effective current standards of assessment are in actually measuring what students know, vs. simply measuring teacher and school performance.

For starters let’s briefly define the three basic forms of educational assessment.

  • Formative assessment — This type of assessment happens on-the-go, during the learning process. In some cases it can even take place prior to learning, for teachers to establish what students already know about the topic and how they approach or would prefer to approach the subject. Feedback here is immediate, for both student and teacher, and enables the teacher to do a quick ”dipstick” test on his/her teaching methods.
  • Interim assessment — This type of assessment occurs on occasion throughout a larger session of learning time. Feedback is less immediate and tends to be more formal. Techniques include: rubric-scored projects, chapter tests, written assignments and tests. At this point learners are expected to demonstrate competence and understanding, however opportunities to demonstrate their learning is also available.

    Read more: What is the role of rubrics in performance-based education?


  • Summative assessment — Taking place at the end of a period of learning, these assessments are arguably used to measure teacher and school efficacy rather than learning outcomes. On these occasions feedback to the student is usually limited, and the student usually has no opportunity to be reassessed. Summative assessments tends to have the least impact on improving an individual student’s understanding or performance, and are typically used to identify the strengths and weaknesses of curriculum and instruction.

3 Teachers that are crushing assessments with ed-tech

Now let’s explore how educators everywhere can use ed-tech tools to better assess their students. Here are just three awesome examples:

Audio feedback

Andy Pearsall is a lecturer at a the university of South Wales, who, along with his colleagues has managed to rationalize the amount of time they spend on feedback, using simple audio recording tech. Himself and his teaching colleague review the work (in this case photojournalism projects) together, record the conversation, compress the audio file and send it to students via email.

Not only do they manage this for 40 students, across two projects, in under two days, but they are also offering students more in-depth feedback in less time. The files were also uploaded to the university’s software, enabling them to archive their thoughts, and access them during the semester.

Blogging and peer feedback

Jeff Jakob is a high school World Affairs teacher who took student blogging to a whole new level, using the insight that teenagers will increase performance and attention when they have an authentic audience of peers (ref: all of social media). Through a scaffolded process of digital literacy and parent engagement, eventually Jeff had all of his student blogging — in public.

Then he registered his class on quadblogging, which connected his class with classes in three other parts of the world. Student feedback had now gone global and Jeff noticed his students spending increasingly more time and effort getting their blogs perfect prior to publication; looking at the time stamps Jeff often noticed students blogging at 2 AM or over weekends.

The peer-based feedback process stimulates students who “feel good” about the feedback, whereas feedback from teachers and parents did not have the same emotional weight or social cache. Self-assessment occurred naturally, as competition to garner the most comments per post increased.

Google Forms in elementary school

Eleni Kyritsis is a 5th grade teacher in Melbourne, Australia. As a proponent not only of digital innovation in the classroom but also of Visible Learning, Eleni has found a way to use Google forms not only to asses her students, but for her students to asses her.

She has also found a number of useful ways that Google forms can help her with formative assessments. Her blog details her use of Google forms, including the quiz add-on, in creating digital exit tickets, surveys, well-being questionnaires, pre- and post-testing for mathematics, student reflections and parent feedback.

Closing thoughts

There are many ways that education technology is making assessments not only simpler and easier to conduct, but also creating learning opportunities in and of themselves. While assessments may be a trial for both teacher and student, we also know that the feedback component, and the way that feedback is delivered, is probably one of the most crucial points of the learning journey.

Taking note of how teenagers respond to online audiences, creating a more casual and authentic feedback dialogue using audio files or using simple tools to mine for important feedback and student insight are all helpful ways to make your assessment process more effective and enjoyable.


NEO Brochure: Assessing students using NEO


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