Assessment for learning: improving feedback in interactive exercises

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I have been using ICT to create interactive exercises for some years now, mainly using Hot Potatoes, but also game makers from Languages Online and ContentGenerator.net. These interactive exercises offer many advantages to teachers, such as:

  • smaller work load when it comes to marking
  • quicker, easier, standardized assessment
  • they can be more attractive and more interesting for students
  • students usually do not feel that they are doing a test but a game, which results in improved performance and motivation
  • once the exercises are created, both exercises and results can be easily stored for future use
  • immediate feedback to pupils

As teachers, it is sometimes very easy to simply start churning out exercises, perhaps paying a lot of attention to the content of the exercises and not so much to the feedback that the pupils get from them. Very often the feedback is simply either right or wrong, with the occasional well done. Yet it would be fantastic for our pupils to receive a little bit more, or simply better, feedback from these interactive exercises.

Some programmes like Hot Potatoes do allow you to incorporate more complex feedback beyond the basic right or wrong, as shown in the screen shots below:

Here, as a basic example, I am creating a quiz in which the pupil is going to be asked what the capital of Spain is. Now, I know that the capital of Spain is Madrid, but I also know that some people might think that other, more popular tourist destinations might be the capital of Spain. If a pupil erroneously chooses Barcelona, for example, he or she will be shown a small window with this information: Not correct. Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia and is the second largest city in Spain. The pupil therefore learns that Barcelona is not the correct answer, but he or she also learns a little bit more about Barcelona.In this other example, based on my own experience as a Spanish teacher, I am anticipating what mistake pupils might make if I ask them: How do you say “I like” in Spanish?. I know what mistakes are the most common, so I tailor the feedback accordingly:

Assessment becomes formative self-assessment in this way. Pupils would know, not only that they got it wrong, but also why they got it wrong and perhaps how to remedy their mistake. This, of course, relies on the ability of the teacher to anticipate what mistakes might be made by his or her pupils.

ICT currently only allows us to offer feedback of this kind with short answer exercises. Technology does not yet allow us to offer complex feedback for longer answers but, who knows? All in good time, I suppose.

Click here to have a go at my quiz.

José Picardo

José is Assistant Principal at Surbiton High School and a Fellow at Naace. He is interested in improving education and the way technology can be used to enhance and transform teaching and learning. José has been curating Box of Tricks since 2007 and holds a MA in ICT and Education.

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  • http://njtechteacher.blogspot.com/ Ann Oro

    I stumbled on your website the other day when I saw a tweet from lisibo to you. I really liked your Beckham Errors. She pointed out your blog as well. I’ve added it to my reader and passed your asisehace website to my school’s Spanish teacher. Well done!

  • http://njtechteacher.blogspot.com Ann Oro

    I stumbled on your website the other day when I saw a tweet from lisibo to you. I really liked your Beckham Errors. She pointed out your blog as well. I’ve added it to my reader and passed your asisehace website to my school’s Spanish teacher. Well done!

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