Written by our team of Learning Specialists, this blog post is the fourth instalment of a four-part Back to School series on putting the DNA of Learning to work in Showbie.
Testing and assessment are sometimes dirty words in education; teachers complain about “teaching to the test” and the value of a one-time, terminal examination assessment has long been questioned by educators. This blog post is not about assessment. This blog post is about learning and how testing can support and strengthen learning. It’s an attempt to rid testing of the black mark against its name.
For context, in his book ‘How We Learn’ Benedict Carey says “A test is not only a measurement tool, it alters what we remember and changes how we subsequently organise that knowledge in our minds. And it does so in ways that greatly improve later performance.” So, testing is not just about measuring how our students are doing in terms of the knowledge they can already remember, it also helps them to remember that knowledge in the first place! Wow, we are off to a fine start when it comes to eradicating that black mark!
We all know that students don’t like tests but, as teachers, we can support this kind of self-test in class for greater impact. This is where Showbie, and our assessment app Socrative, comes into the mix. Through the use of Socrative and its integration into Showbie, we can help our students to self-test by regularly giving short, low-stakes quizzes in real-time based on the learning that’s taking place.
Socrative’s flexibility allows teachers to build all kinds of tests; multiple choice, true/false, and short answer questions which can include the use of texts, formulae, audio and video, links, and images. By regularly giving our students these kinds of quick tests we are strengthening their learning even, or maybe especially, if they get the questions wrong! With Socrative, you can give marks to each question which is, of course, useful if we are producing a terminal examination for our students. But, for self-tests or quick knowledge checks, we can actually assign no marks at all to each question denoting that this ‘test’ is actually just another form of learning. This type of assessment-based learning, now referred to as retrieval practice, has really gained momentum in recent years.
I stated earlier that getting something wrong during retrieval practice was actually beneficial to students. This is true but, and there’s always a but, only if a student receives feedback correcting that misconception soon after the error is made. Showbie and Socrative combine wonderfully to support the need for this precise, instant, and personalised feedback. For example, within a Socrative multiple choice quiz, it’s possible to provide instant feedback to students as soon as they’ve answered a question. This kind of real-time testing allows students to make new neural connections in their brains each time that they recall the knowledge.
Showbie further supports timely personalised and contextual feedback on completed Socrative quizzes with personalised quiz reports easily shared with each student directly into Showbie, providing them with a summary of what they did and didn’t answer correctly, as well as showing them the feedback that was given on each question.
But it gets better. While the quiz report in itself is super useful, having that quiz report in Showbie means both student and teacher can add voice notes, comments, contextual explanations, digital ink, and text notes directly onto the quiz to provide further feedback. From there, students can ask for further clarification and respond to the feedback which makes this kind of integrated testing even more impactful on students and provides a clear record of learning progress over time.
With Showbie, testing can be so much more than that end-of-unit test. Hopefully, I’m winning you over and further helping eradicate that black mark next to the word testing. If you aren’t totally won over yet on integrating assessment with Showbie and Socrative into your teaching, I’ve got one more great tip for you. Despite the value of providing your students with retrieval practice, finding time to create quizzes can be hard. In this situation, Socrative has two great tools for you.
Within Socrative, you can share the load by working together with fellow educators to create contextual, relevant, teacher-approved tests together via the shared library feature. This feature also allows for collaboration and sharing of the quizzes. Alternatively, you can use the quick question feature which allows teachers to simply read a quiz question aloud in class on the fly and have students use Socrative to answer the question. This function gives you and the class a live view of results and can empower you to tailor your lesson accordingly.
Research has shown us that testing doesn’t have to be a dirty word, in fact, combined with the powers of Showbie and Socrative it can become a real driver for enabling meaningful learning to take place, save you time in class, and help close feedback loops faster.
Get started connecting your Showbie and Socrative accounts for impact today.
As a trained language teacher, Rachel developed her use of technology in the classroom to support teaching and learning. Rachel is both Apple Distinguished Educator and APLS.