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Wednesday, June 18 • 11:00am - 12:30pm
PSD.45 – Students Have a Right to be Wrong! Formative Assessment Techniques Aimed at Improving Student Learning

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In the opening plenary of STLHE 2013 in Cape Breton, Dr. Richard Gerver said something that really struck a chord with me: “You never learn anything new by being right”. This statement at once summed up my recent efforts to incorporate formative assessment techniques into an introductory organic chemistry course using a blended (or “flipped” classroom) format. There are many definitions of formative assessment but perhaps the simplest is assessment for learning (as opposed to assessment of learning). There is much research to support the advantages of formative assessment over summative assessment for student learning (Black & William, 1998). It is okay for students to be wrong and, in fact, students should be encouraged to take risks, make mistakes and learn from them.

This session will introduce four formative assessment techniques I have incorporated into my introductory organic chemistry courses to provide students with frequent feedback on their strengths, weaknesses and progress and the incentive to make adjustments based on this feedback. These assessments are as follows: (i) an instructor-developed beginning-of-term prior learning assessment (PLA); (ii) mastery-based on-line homework; (iii) a think-pair-share approach to clicker questions; and (iv) use of the immediate feedback assessment technique (IF-AT) for the multiple choice sections of midterm tests and final exams. Each of these techniques gives students multiple opportunities to self-assess and, in so doing, play a more active role in their learning. Logistical issues, lessons learned and best practices will be discussed and students’ reaction to the use of these techniques as garnered through anonymous surveys will be presented. None of these techniques is limited to organic chemistry and it is anticipated that participants will walk away with new ideas about how to incorporate formative assessment techniques into their own courses.


Wednesday June 18, 2014 11:00am - 12:30pm EDT
A333 McArthur Hall

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