Methods and Strategies: Formative Assessment Practices to Support Students who Struggle in Scienceby: Audrey Martínez-Gudapakkam, Karen Mutch-Jones, and Jennifer Hicks

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This column provides ideas and techniques to enhance your science teaching. This month’s issue highlights how formative assessment activities support instructional shifts, of three Indiana Science Initiative (ISI) teachers.

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  • on Tue Dec 05, 2017 10:02 PM

Students who struggle in science need some formative assessment practices to help them on learning science. English language learners and students with disabilities may have difficulty in language. It is difficult for them to have the same development as other students. This article provides some strategies to solve this problem. Assess students understanding is necessary. Using an alternative color-coding strategy to sort students notes. “Red for misconceptions, green for accurate and complete explanations, and yellow for generally accurate responses but with missing evidence.” (Martínez-Gudapakkam, Mutch-Jones, and Hicks, 2017). This strategy is a quick check for teachers to know how students learn the lesson. Teachers can divide students into different groups based on the result of sorting. It offers support to each student who is confused about the content teachers teaching. In addition, encouraging students to draw or put diagrams with their writing is a good way to know if students understand the concept. After doing an investigation on magnetism and electricity, the teacher requires students to draw a completed circuit diagram. Supposing students feel it is a challenge to draw it directly, teachers can allow students to take a photo of their investigation work. So that student can have a deeper impression of what they have learned. Providing meaningful feedback is incredibly significant. Teachers should make sure each student can know their learning situations. The author offers a strategy named “sticky note feedback”. It is different with a classical feedback which teachers directly wrote comments on students work. The sticky notes can be removed after students resolving the issue. “This provides a sense of accomplishment, and students may begin to see teacher feedback in a more positive light.” (Martínez-Gudapakkam et al,.2017). Students will feel more comfortable to see teachers feedback and make improvements on what they are weak in. Quick check formative assessments create opportunities for students who think science is frustrating to have achievements on learning science. English language learners and students with disabilities can build self-confidence through these formative assessments. They can have a positive attitude towards learning science.

Zhengyun Lu
Zhengyun Lu

  • on Mon Oct 30, 2017 4:40 AM

This article was helpful as it offered new ideas for effectively assessing my students throughout a Science unit, such as the use of sticky notes in various ways to check in with each individual student. It was especially helpful to see the ways in which each teacher adjusted the assessment methods to fit their classroom and students’ needs. I love Leslie’s idea of a ‘sticky note parking lot’ to keep the students accountable and emphasize the idea that “everyone can benefit from feedback.” Mary Anne’s point about providing specific feedback by selecting one area of growth to address at a time, rather than overwhelming the student with multiple things to fix, was insightful. This article emphasized the value of formative assessment as both a means for teachers to get information about their students’ understanding as well as a way to teach the students that learning is an ongoing process.

Rebecca Wilber
Rebecca Wilber

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