My thoughts on Formative!

In EC&I 833, last semester, I was introduced to an online assessment tool called Formative. The group allowed us to use it a bit during their presentation and it really sparked my interest. It seemed easy to use and allowed student interaction while using the tool and it also seemed like a legit way to assess our students learning, especially if we are online teaching. I was excited to give it a try but would have to wait until next school year to give it an honest try with some students. However, with Christmas plans changing and my family no longer able to make it home for the holidays, I made our annual Christmas Trivia night into an online version that we played over zoom. I split the teams into breakout rooms to complete each round and the answers were submitted via Formative! I finally had an opportunity to use it. Based on that minimal experience and some more exploring the last couple of days, I thought I would share a few of my thoughts on this online assessment tool.

Overview:
When I first started creating the trivia questions on Formative, I thought it might be a bit of a challenging and time consuming process. My trivia was all short answer so I was only using one style of question and they had a powerpoint presentation on my screen that they used to follow along. I had six rounds to create. Some had two part questions, some required a photo or digital file to go along with it. I really was not sure how I would be able to do this. Here is an example from our connection round! Any guesses on how all three of these questions are connected?

Once I actually sat down and made the quiz it took no time at all. I simply input the question and supplied the answer. Done in about twenty minutes. I was amazed. The photos or media files I needed to add was super basic. The only tricky part was figuring out a way to have the two part questions as one question. For example: Name the title and artist for name that tune. I had to create a question for each question. So for a ten question round, I ended up with twenty questions. I had to then award each question out of five points instead of ten. It was a simple way to fix it but it wasn’t as smooth as I had wanted it to be. Maybe there is a way around this that I missed or maybe that is a more doable option if I paid for the premium version. Here is an example of a two part question, do you know the answer?

I also liked that I could create classrooms. This allowed me to create groupings for the different nights I had my trivia night. I could then assign each round to the different classrooms. This also allowed me to open and close the formative assessments so that only each grouping could see the questions. It also allowed me to sign up the recorders for each team ahead of time. So as a teacher, you would set your classroom up at the start of the year. You could have formative assessments created ahead of schedule and then just open them when it was time for the students to complete the assessment. When an assessment was closed then they are unable to see them. They do not even show up on their list. With a simple click of the mouse you can open the assessment and the students get instant access. This was nice because I would simply open up each round of questions as we started the round. This way no one was able to cheat and look ahead.

An example of my classroom with the rooms closed and open. Simply click on the lock and change it to open.

Now that we are well on our way with the trivia game, I wanted to know if they got the answers correct or not without having to sift through each team. That was my whole point of using this. An efficient way to “grade” their answers without a lot of downtime. I only had 2 or 3 teams playing at a time but I can only imagine how much faster this would be if I had a simple short answer, true and false or multiple choice test. I would save so much time on my marking! To be successful with the short answer I had to make sure I provide enough correct answers. With the premium version it gives you the option to turn on features that allow for less “false negatives”. In this example I added some common spelling mistakes just in case.

I also found out that as you are correcting a quiz you can choose to add to correct responses. This will then change all the others that have that response to green. I found I had to go and confirm the incorrect responses were in fact wrong. I was able to do this while they typing in their answers without them even noticing. Here is a picture of a completed round.

Do you know the answer?;)

As you can see at the top, this is an overview of the whole assessment. I can also look at each question if I choose. By clicking on a red response it brings up a panel on the side and I am able to see what they wrote and adjust the grade if need be. One thing I really liked about this was that I could look as they were completing the assessment. I did not have to wait until they had submitted it. I could correct as they were working on it. I also really liked that you can adjust the grades to provide the students with half marks and so on. It seemed flexible in that sense. I know that my experience using Formative was not totally a classroom experience but it still gave me the experience of creating an assessment and using the tool. It allowed me to see how my students used it and how smoothly it work. I had zero struggles with the student side of things. They all were able to answer the questions with ease and had no technical difficulties. This experience has definitely grabbed my interest and I do plan on implementing it into my classroom or hopefully the teachers classrooms that I work with. I am not totally sold on this program yet but I already warned my Principal that I might be seeking a premium subscription next fall!

Pros:
I have already stated quite a bit about what I liked about this program but I thought I would still include them:

  • User friendly and easy to navigate
  • Students are able to access it and navigate it with ease
  • Has multiple types of questions included in the free version and even more in the premium
  • Can be used in face-to-face, blended, virtual, online classrooms
  • Teachers can create their own assessments instead of only being able to use assessments that have already been created
  • Great visual of students correct answers when using simple answered questions.  Provides the mark too and different options for answers.
  • You can have multiple classrooms on one account
  • You can include co-teachers on the premium account
  • Many more that I am sure I will learn about as I use this program more!


Cons:
I am really liking this program so far but I am sure there are more flaws than I have found so far:

  • Correct answers can be marked incorrectly and therefore you still need to look over each assessment.
  • Students could cheat so assessment might not be authentic. 
  • For the extra features you have to pay for them. As an individual it costs $144 a year to use.  As a school or school division it required me to call in.  This price isn’t as high as I thought it might be.  A monthly payment was only $15.  So maybe this is a pro!?  Look at all the features you get with it…

Potential:
I think like most tools we have at our disposal, it is what you make of it. This could be a disaster, but it also could be something great. I think it will take some getting used to on both the teacher and the students behalf. I think it is hard to use as assessment in some cases because you might worry that the students are cheating and having someone else fill it in or maybe stealing answers off the internet. There are a lot of variables to consider when it comes to collecting assessment and using it for grades. That is a whole new can of worms! I do plan on using this and hope that it will be beneficial. I think students will enjoy it and it will help some of my students with special needs that will prefer the use of a computer to complete an assessment rather than pen and paper. I would love to hear from others that have used Formative. Any pros or cons you would like to add to my list? Do you enjoy using this program in your classroom? Why did you stop using it if you did?

In case you made it this far…. here is a quick video explaining Formative’s capabilities!

Source

6 thoughts on “My thoughts on Formative!

  1. Devin Aspinall

    I love fun and efficient assessment tools. I have never used Formative, but it reminded me a little of Socrative and also the quiz portion of Microsoft Forms. My biggest pet peeve with those tools is that, as mentioned, you have to predict every possible way the user might write the correct answer so you don’t get false negatives. That can be really time consuming and frustrating for students when they were correct, but there answer was recognized as incorrect because of a small difference in their response. I guess for this reason you might default to multiple choice more often. Does formative require students to have their own accounts so that you know who is completing each assessment or does the teacher set up a roster and give out some sort of code or link? Thanks for the detailed overview!

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    1. Great question…. students can use their google accounts to join into a classroom using a code. So therefore they will not need to make new accounts and remember new passwords. If you are in the high school they can be in multiple classrooms I do believe.

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      1. Mike Wolf

        Thanks for sharing on this tool. I hadn’t heard of it. I haven’t bookmarked pages in a long time, but I find myself in this class constantly booking tools. I usually Kahoot for formative assessment, but I’ve been using it for years and I think it’s time to give other tools a try.

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  2. Hi Jocelyn, I was very interested in reading your blog post about Formative. Assessment is an area I have struggled with during online learning. Especially with authentic assessment as you discussed in your post. There are so many variables with online assessment, that make it more difficult (or maybe more uncomfortable for us as educators) than a classroom environment that we are all so used to. In your review about Formative I was intrigued with the tool when you explained that there is more than one way to conduct an assessment and that you are not just limited to multiple choice. I teach grade 1/2 so I am want to check out Formative to see if I can create some assessments for my young learners! Thanks for sharing!

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  3. Thanks for sharing. I love that you created a game for your family…so fun!!
    I used to use Formative quite a bit in my Math class. I liked that it could be a centre that students could work at without me being there. I agree with what you said about accuracy for assessment. I used it mostly for learning and formative assessment (seems appropriately named…haha). I’ve never found these sites reliable for any type of summative assessment, but I definitely love this one to keep me connected to students, and to give them a fun tool in class to reinforce learning.

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