Assessment is the tool that helps teachers judge on the quality of learners’ performance. There are two different ways in which assessment can be used: the first one is to quantify pupils’ achievement and proceed to reward their achievements with some kind of certification, which is called summative assessment; and the second one is to judge and support pupils’ learning through feedback, which is called formative assessment (Weurlander, Söderberg, Scheja, Hult,, & Wernerson 2012).
Assessment becomes formative “when the evidence is actually used to adapt the teaching to meet learning needs” (Black 2010). Black and Wiliam (2009) established five main types of activity that are effective to formatively assess pupils’ progression: sharing success criteria with learners, classroom questioning, comment-only marking, peer and self-assessment and the formative use of summative tests. In traditional school teaching, this type of assessment might be done through observation, questioning, quizzes, checking jotters, games, group tasks for peer assessment, and many other different actions. All these types of activities are designed to help the teachers and the students evaluate their learning and support it when necessary; however, assessing pupils’ progress has become a more complicated task while teaching and learning remotely.
In today’s new environment of online learning, the need for teachers to get feedback on pupils’ progress has become a matter of top priority. Knowing what pupils are doing while learning from home, getting them to engage with their learning and gathering evidence of their progress, have become some of the main difficulties in providing high quality education that compares to face-to-face teaching.
One of the positive aspects that has come out of the current global situation is the amount of new online resources that have been developed to support online learning. Given the new variety of digital tools available, teachers have had the task to select the most appropriate tools to conduct online formative assessments. In Scotland, North Lanarkshire Council established the use of Glow and Microsoft Teams as the main platforms to communicate with pupils while teaching and learning remotely. These two digital communication platforms contain lots of different tools that can be used to raise pupils’ engagement and to gather evidence of their progress. The rationale behind this enquiry is to find out if the use of Microsoft Forms (a tool integrated in Microsoft Teams) would allow teachers to formatively assess pupils progress.
All probationer teachers must achieve the standards for full registration with the GTCS, which include “systematically develop and use an extensive range of strategies, approaches and associated materials for formative and summative assessment purposes, appropriate to the needs of all learners and the requirements of the curriculum and awarding and accrediting bodies” (GTCS 2012). During the time that teaching remotely was happening, gathering information about pupils’ progress has been a difficult task but during this time it is more important than ever to keep track on our pupils’ progress, to be able to plan accordingly for online teaching, decide which online teaching techniques are working better for our pupils and to be able to plan ahead for when pupils return to school. After doing some research about the different ways in which teachers are assessing pupils’ progress online, it was decided that one of the best ways to do formative assessments could be using Microsoft Forms.
The reason behind using Microsoft Forms as a way to gather evidence about pupil’s progress is that it is an integrated tool in Microsoft Teams, which is the online platform that has been used by North Lanarkshire Council to communicate with pupils while learning remotely. Pupils already know how to use it, it is accessible to all of them and they can complete it at any time, which makes this system more inclusive since there are some pupils that have limited access to the computer. The aim of this enquiry is to provide a critical insight about the impact of the use of Microsoft Forms to assess pupils’ progress formatively while learning remotely.