For many years teachers have been encouraged through a national initiative to embed formative assessment into learning. Formative assessment should be concerned with “providing teachers and/or students feedback information, which they need to interpret when answering the three feedback questions: “Where am I going?, How am I going to get there?, and Where to next?” (Hattie, 2003, p. 2). By using formative information, teachers can identify individual learning needs of students and tailor instruction to meet them (Black & William, 2007). Therefore, with the appropriate use of formative assessment, learning becomes a continuous loop of knowledge and processing. Shephard (2000) noted that the successful teacher is able to ask the right questions at the right time, anticipate conceptual pitfalls, and have a ready repertoire of instructional tasks that will help students take the next steps that require deep knowledge of the subject matter.
The general trend of evidence supports the use of formative assessment and suggests that its appropriate use can positively influence how students learn and achieve. Multiple sources confirm that formative assessment significantly impacts student learning when delivered using feedback, questioning, and peer-to-peer assessment; and when such formative assessment is an embedded element of a teacher’s everyday practice (Black & William, 1998; Shephard, 2000; Hattie, 2003; William & Leahy, 2015).
Shephard (2000) believes that teachers should possess a toolbox of varying instructional approaches in order to effectively meet the needs of students. One such tool are ‘Show-me’ Boards. Show-me boards are an effective formative assessment strategy to quickly gauge pupil understanding, and scaffold questioning as learning can be made ‘visible’, allowing teachers to see what each pupil is thinking at any one time (Hattie, 2012). It also increases the wait time given to pupils when answering, which can reduce pressure felt by pupils and increase the quality of their answers (Dunn & Mulvenon, 2009). Therefore this type of formative assessment signifies an incremental intelligence over a fixed mind-set (Dweck, 1999) which supports pupils to become confident, engaged and effective learners (Hattie, 2003).
The aim of this enquiry was to determine the effect of using show-me boards as a teaching and learning tool in the classroom, with regards to participation, engagement and confidence period.