Authors: Leslie C. Banes, Hansol Lee, Bahareh Abhari
Presented at 2017 AERA
Abstract: The outcomes of formative assessments can serve as an important source of feedback for mathematics teachers and students. However, teachers often have difficulty generating feedback that provides students with next steps for learning (Heritage et al., 2009). Furthermore, Hiebert and Grouws (2007) have documented the persistent lack of attention to deep conceptual understanding in U.S. math classrooms. Yet these activities are at the heart of Common Core Standards for Mathematical Practices emphasizing mathematical habits of mind such as modeling, reasoning, and problem solving. The study reported here, as part of a larger research project, supports the creation of formative assessment tools and resources that can help bridge this gap. The goal of the Universe of Formative Assessment Components (UFAC) is to compile a comprehensive collection of practices that have been identified through research as essential elements of formative assessment. These components are categorized into themes and meta-themes for teachers to expand into classroom tasks as they strive to enhance their instruction and improve student learning. The development of the UFAC system is grounded in standards-based assessment theory. Specifically, the system is based on the concept of a “universe of admissible items/tasks” (Shavelson & Webb, 1991). In its existing form, the concept provides a basis for developing a formative assessment “component bank” from which teachers and professional developers can pull research-based practices and strategies. In 2013, the research team began the process of identifying a comprehensive list of formative assessment components that are used to guide instruction and improve student learning. Sources for this list of components came from earlier project phases and include major test publishers, state assessment directors, principals, observations and interviews with teachers, a Delphi study of international experts, and relevant literature. From these resources, an initial list of 284 components formed the initial draft of the UFAC system. The research team then refined this list and conducted a literature review for each component. The several hundred literature reviews were completed by various research team members using search engines (i.e., Google Scholar, Psych Info, and ERIC) to conduct key word searches (e.g., formative assessment and formal evidence; formative assessment and feedback, or formative assessment and learning goals). Completed component literature reviews were reviewed for format and completeness by at least one other team member before being filed. The research team then made a descriptive rating on the strength of the research evidence supporting each component using three levels (strong evidence, some evidence, or promising). Based on these ratings, we identified 23 themes such as adjustment or teacher reflection. Among the 23 themes, we also identified 241 sub-components that make up the UFAC.