Kirsty McWilliam


St Andrew's High

  • Digital Learning: Formative Assessment

What Happens When Timely Feedback is Provided in an S3 Digital Classroom?


Formative assessment uses evidence to adapt teaching methods to meet the needs of pupils (Black & Wiliam, 1998), and is vital for effective learning and teaching, as outlined in the Standards for Registration with the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS, 2012) and in How Good Is Our School (Education Scotland, 2015).

Formative assessment helps teachers to streamline their teaching approach and technique to facilitate learning for each of their pupils’ individual needs. This can be especially beneficial to those pupils who have additional support needs, whether they have been previously identified or not.

Teachers using formative assessment approaches and techniques are better prepared to meet diverse students’ needs (OECD, 2008).

Feedback is described as a tool for teachers to give useful information to pupils so that they can progress with the curriculum (Dunn & Mulvenon, 2009; Melmer, Burmaster, & James, 2008).

Pupils, and people in general, can have a distorted view of their proficiency and require evidence to ensure they are focusing their efforts on areas of weakness. Formative assessment, and in particular feedback, is an ideal mechanism to inform pupils and promote making effective decisions (Broadfoot et al., 1999).


There are many aspects of learning and teaching that can be informed by formative assessment, including the content of a lesson, or the delivery of material. Crucially, feedback can also be used to assist and support pupils in their independent learning outside of the classroom (Smith and Firth, 2018).

Teachers can support self-study by putting structures in place whereby learners are expected to test themselves regularly and records scores, drawing their attention to areas of weakness. (Smith & Firth, 2018).

With a significant amount of learning occurring at home this academic year, effective methods of providing feedback to pupils to support them in a context that increasingly involves independent learning has never been more important.

This enquiry aims to evaluate the effect of feedback on pupil performance and engagement, and to compare the impact of remote-based learning and classroom-based learning.

Download Practitioner Enquiry