The GTCS Standards for Full Registration state that registered teachers must ‘have secure knowledge and understanding of current guidance on the use of digital technologies in schools and know how to use digital technologies competently to enhance teaching and learning.’(GTCS) This teaching requirement has become a vital priority for all teachers due to the disruption to in-person education as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Reflective practice, academic research and collaboration with teachers have identified the need for practitioners to develop tools and practices which enable teachers to deliver high quality teaching and learning online. Learner conversations have been very much limited during the online learning period. This means that young people have had fewer opportunities to gauge their own understanding. Furthermore, teachers have had fewer opportunities to assess the progress of learners which would enable them to direct future teaching and learning in order to meet the needs of their classes.
There is a plethora of research which attests to the importance of regular and routine formative assessment in the classroom. Dylan William (2007) concluded his research on formative assessment by claiming that ‘formative assessment appears to be one of, if not the, most powerful way’ to improve pupil achievement. Furthermore, research conducted on secondary school pupils demonstrated that learners who had been formatively assessed scored ‘significantly higher’ than learners who were not assessed (Mehmood et al, 2012).
Research on the impact of formative assessment on educational attainment online has demonstrated similar results: a recent study comparing online learning across two semesters found that the implementation of formative assessment strategies such as quizzes and tests were ‘effective in enhancing learning outcomes’ and, as such, the researchers recommended the use of such online interventions for teachers (Chen et al, 2021).
Crucially, then, teachers must have access to online platforms and tools which enable them to formatively assess pupils’ understanding and to motivative pupils to stay engaged in their learning. The key question is this: does Microsoft Forms provide teachers and pupils with a helpful platform for formative assessment during online learning?
The aim of this enquiry was to evaluate the use of Microsoft Forms as a tool to formatively assess S1 pupil understanding. This enquiry aimed to examine the extent to which the tool would provide pupils and teachers with a clear indication of pupil understanding and progress. The enquiry also aimed to ascertain whether the Forms quizzes would help to reinforce and consolidate the week’s learning. Furthermore, given the challenge of motivating pupils to stay engaged while they are working from home, the study aimed to determine how valuable the tool was regarding pupil engagement, motivation and enjoyment.