Assessments + Data = Better Understanding of Student Progress

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More than three quarters of instructors using Macmillan Learning’s new digital learning platform, Achieve, assigned assessments in their courses during the most recent Spring semester. There's a good reason that, on average, 20 assessment activities were assigned during the semester.

According to Macmillan Learning Sr. Product Director Jennifer Ferralli (@jennferralli), assessments can provide instructors with critical information on how well students have learned the material as well as highlight where students areJennifer FerralliJennifer Ferralli struggling. This is especially true in a post-COVID classroom, where in-person instruction is the exception and self-reliance and feedback are more critical than ever.

Just like different kinds of academic lessons have different functions, so do assessments. There’s formative assessments, which offer students multiple attempts to answer questions so that they have productive struggles to come to the right answer, and are meant to give instructors in-process feedback about what students are learning so they can modify how they teach their classes. Most of the assessments being used in Achieve are formative (more than 90%). There’s also summative assessments, which evaluate student learning at the end of a unit, course, semester, or at some other milestone. These, along with diagnostic assessments, pre-assessments and more, are just a few of the ways that instructors can gain a better understanding of their students' academic progress in Achieve.

When Macmillan Learning’s new digital learning platform Achieve was being developed, assessments were a critical area of focus, with formative assessments getting extra attention. According to Ferralli, one of their greatest benefits is the ability to provide real time feedback to students that help guide their learning, rather than sending them back to the beginning of a problem. 

“Research tells us that feedback has a moderate to large impact on student learning, and is most powerful when correcting faulty interpretations,” Ferralli noted. The feedback in Achieve assessments is written specifically to address such common misconceptions and is triggered based on the student’s individual response. From this way of learning, students are able to quickly correct what they did wrong and learn from those mistakes.

And it’s also why the company’s work on perfecting its assessments is ongoing. In fact, a beta of new features supporting assessments in Achieve was released earlier this month that enables instructors to better understand how the class is doing as a whole and which questions are causing problems. Within assessments, instructors can now see all student data for each assessment activity, including time spent and activity time stamps for each student.

Also, this summer the company will be launching the ability for instructors to both edit our questions and create their own questions. This will give instructors the opportunity to add in their own feedback that aligns to their course instruction even more or create questions that perhaps target a specific learning misconception.

For more information about Achieve, click here.