Formative computer-based assessments to enhance teaching and learning

20 Jul 2016

Formative assessment (FA) has the potential to benefit student learning and enhance teaching, as the feedback can assist both students ? to assess the quality of their work ? and university teachers ? to understand students? strengths and weaknesses. This article reports on part of a broader exploratory study, which involved 360 undergraduate law students at a university in South Africa. Weekly formative computer-based assessments (CBAs) were introduced prior to lectures for a period of eight weeks. This intervention could be understood as a variant of FA, which is described by Carless (2007, 171) as ?pre-emptive assessment?. A survey was conducted among students and lecturers at the end of the pre-emptive FA intervention. The study found strong support for the use of FA among students, as well as lecturers, and showed a high participation rate in the FA among students. The study further challenged Biggs? (1989, 7) four-step model of constructive alignment with regard to the role of FA that can precede teaching activities. Hence, it proposes an adaptation of that model.