Active Learning: A Formative & Summative Assessment Approach To Teaching & Learning
Students learn when they have many opportunities to practice important skills and develop robust networks of memories that connect newly acquired skills and knowledge to what students already know. In an active learning course, the teacher’s primary job is to design formative assessments that allow students to practice skills and make connections and then to use these “teachable moments” to offer feedback to steer students toward efficient and productive learning. Teachers, then, need to design authentic and relevant summative assessments where students can showcase what they have learned.
This webinar is aimed at addressing several challenges related to formative assessments:
- Teachers sometimes struggle to design homework (out-of-class work) and in-class activities that allow students to practice the skills necessary to achieve the course learning outcomes
- Teachers also sometimes struggle to find enough “teachable moments” where their feedback can make the most difference in student learning
- Students often fail to see the relevance of their homework and, so, they are not fully prepared to excel in the in-class activities that their teacher has prepared. Thus, students often miss out on the chance to open up “teachable moments” where their teacher can really help them learn
- In addition, this webinar will address challenges related to summative assessments:
- Teachers sometimes struggle to properly match the practice students get during class and while working on their own with the tests, projects, or papers used to assess what the student eventually learns
This is the second in a series of webinars focused on Active Learning that will follow-up on a previous webinar that focused on Backwards Design for Active Learning. However, this presentation on formative and summative assessments for active learning can stand alone and attendance of part 1 isn’t required.
Active learning is becoming a popular catch-phrase in education but it is much more than a fad or a bunch of “tips and tricks” on how to get students engaged in class. Active Learning is nothing less than a full-fledged paradigm shift in teaching and learning. This evidence-based approach is grounded in research about how the human brain learns and calls for significant changes to the way college courses are designed and to the roles of students and teachers in these courses.
The Active Learning paradigm transforms the teacher’s role from that of the content expert and “sage on the stage” lecturer into a course designer and learning facilitator whose goal is to create in-class and out-of-class experiences where students have the opportunity to practice relevant skills and build a network of connections between memories that cash out in real learning. This webinar will focus on the interplay between the daily in-class and out-of-class work students do, the feedback they receive from these intentionally planned “teachable moments,” and the ways students are allowed to showcase what they have learned.
Participants in this webinar will consider several pedagogical approaches to formative → summative assessments with a focus on formats that fit within an Active Learning approach to teaching and learning. The webinar will present about 10 active learning formative assessment frameworks that can be modified and used as in-class and/or out-of-class work; these assignment types can be modified for use in courses across the disciplines from humanities and social sciences to STEM as well as CTE-type courses. Webinar participants will also consider various types of summative assessment that can fit into an active learning class.
A backwards design lesson planning guide will be used to build in formative practice and feedback that will lead, intentionally and authentically, to summative assessments where students can demonstrate what they have actually learned.
This webinar will take an “active learning” approach so participants should expect to watch and listen but also to write, think, and communicate with the presenter and each other during the webinar. Case studies will be presented but participants are encouraged to think about and work on a course that is relevant to them during the webinar.
- Explore and define the Active Learning paradigm by contrasting it with the “transmission of knowledge” approach to teaching and learning
- Note the importance of carefully articulating the relevant learning outcomes for the course and practice “unpacking” important learning outcomes to identify the cognitive skills that students need to practice and become proficient with
- Define both formative and summative assessments and note that “assessment” refers to both the assignment itself and what students and teachers can learn from reviewing the completed assignment
- Explore the idea that the main roles of the teaching in an Active Learning class are to design relevant formative assessments and to offer meaningful and timely feedback to students on these assessments.
- Consider that the only way to make sufficient time for students to practice important skills through formative assessments is, probably, to cut down on lectures and understand how students can learn more when the teacher does “less”
- Challenge negative associations with “teaching to the test” and entertain the idea that a properly designed course will, necessarily, use in-class and out-of-class work to prepare students for success on summative assessments
- Investigate and discuss several formative → summative assessment schemes
- Learn 5-10 Active Learning formative assessment techniques that can be adapted to any course and used in-class and/or out-of-class
- Consider the sorts of summative assessments that make the most sense in an Active Learning class.
- Engage with case studies related to backwards design
- Practice working with a “backwards design” flowchart and course design template focused both on what students and teachers do in and outside of class
- K12 & 2-year & 4-year institutions
- Academic Affairs/Instruction
- Faculty (full and part-time)
- Deans of Instruction
- Department Chairs
- Online Learning Administrators
- Online Learning Faculty
- Any educator interested in learning more about formative & summative assessments for active learning
"Online discussion assignments should be something both students and faculty look forward to when they log into their online classes and/or enhance the learning of hybrid or face-to-face students.. Lets make sure our online discussions are place where faculty get to teach and where students get to learn."
Eric Salahub taught his first online class in 1994 and has been actively involved in online teaching and learning ever since. At Front Range Community College since 1999, Eric teaches philosophy, has served as department chair, and was directly involved in the development of what is now one of the largest online learning programs in Colorado. Along with teaching, Eric has been an Instructional Coach for the past 6-years and in this role he has worked with more than 300 online, face-to-face, and hybrid teachers, helping them design and teach successful and sustainable courses. Eric is also the co-director of FRCC’s Active Learning Institute focused on helping teachers design and teach courses that use research-based methods to promote real learning. Eric has attended and presented at numerous regional and national online learning conferences and he received the 2008 Jerome F. Wartgow Teaching with Technology Award from the Colorado Community College System and was awarded Outstanding Faculty from the CCCS in 2016.
Congratulations to Eric Salahub & Kerri Mitchell for earning Colorado Community Colleges' Outstanding Faculty Award for 2018 for their work on Active Learning!
Here is a summary from Eric:
In early 2016, Kerri Mitchell (ENG faculty at FRCC) and I designed the Active Learning Institute that we've been running at Front Range Community College (the 4th cohort will start in January 2019). This Active Learning Institute is aimed at helping faculty move from the current Transfer of Knowledge paradigm of teaching and learning into the Active Learning paradigm (grounded in current research about how learning actual works in the brain). The ALI has three parts: (1) a semester-long series of 9 sessions along with homework where participant focus on the Active Learning theory, (2) a course redesign where participants create an Active Learning version of a course including day-to-day lesson plans, and then (3) the participants teach their newly redesigned course and work in reflective practice with the ALI facilitators and their colleagues.
This Active Learning Institute has been tremendously successful with as many as 50 applicants for each cohort (Max 12). Further, the ALI participants have, so far, created more than 30 outcomes-based, Active Learning courses. ALI participants have been effusive with their praise for the ALI; many say that this was the best professional development experience they have ever had and that they now fully support the Active Learning paradigm. We are also seeing positive impacts in student success in courses ranging from English to Biology to History to Philosophy to Dental Assisting, Accounting, Math, Vet Tech, and Anatomy and Physiology (among many other disciplines). We have also had Student Affairs staff attend and, based on their work, they are redesigning the FRCC New Student Orientation around Active Learning principles....
Join Eric for his 2-part series on Active Learning!
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