Bridging the Gap: Optimal Formative Assessment using a Technology Tool

Concurrent Session 9

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Incorporating the right technology tool makes formative assessment more efficient for students and saves time for instructors. Tools which provide elaborative feedback lead to quick data driven decisions and enhanced feedback. This study infused theory into practice with selection of "best fit" technology tools for formative assessment and performance feedback. 


Sarah Robertson has a Ph.D. in Psychology with an Emphasis in Cognition and Instruction. Sarah teaches full time at Grand Canyon University within the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Sarah has more than 12 years of experience in online and face-to-face higher education and maintains her teaching certifications in K-8 general, K-12 special education, and middle grades math. Her professional pursuits include action research to improve student engagement, teaching presence, motivation, and information retention and application within both online and traditional courses.

Additional Authors

Rick Holbeck has been in education for over20 years at all levels from kindergarten to higher education. He is currently the executive director of online full time faculty at Grand Canyon University, and also teaches courses for the College of Education. Rick has presented at several regional, national, and international conferences where the focus has been on Classroom Assessment Techniques, technology, faculty workloads, and hybrid peer review for journal publication. Rick is currently the editor of the Journal of Instructional Research. Rick is currently a doctoral learner in Higher Educational Leadership at Grand Canyon University.

Extended Abstract

Formative assessment has long been an important part of the teaching and learning process (Angelo & Cross, 1993). Though originating within the traditional classroom, the need for formative assessment has carried over into the online environment. In the online modality, formative assessments are essential to gauge learning needs as they may not be as easily determined by students on their own in this setting (Boboc & Vonderwall, 2011). This study hopes to demonstrate the value of using appropriately selected technology to bridge the gap as an optimal component in the online modality.

This exploratory study examines the SoTL best practice of using technology as an optimal formative assessment tool in the online modality. More specifically, the study explores the amount of time students and instructors can save through the selection and use of the most appropriate technology to complete formative assessments online. The study hopes to uncover how using and assessing the latest technology tools can determine which tool components will best optimize instructor time while increasing student engagement and achievement. Instructors already value formative assessments in the online environment, but additional research could add to its importance as an essential best practice (Bergquist & Holbeck, 2014). There is not much one-on-one time in the online modality, but the right application of technology can provide an instructor the method, tool, and time to create personalized feedback on student and/or specific class progress Furthermore, the most effective technology enables the student to receive real-time verification and elaborative feedback in an asynchronous learning environment.