n South African Journal of Higher Education - Formative computer-based assessments to enhance teaching and learning : Part 2 : HELTASA 2012 Special Section




Formative assessment (FA) has the potential to benefit student learning and enhance teaching, as the feedback can assist both students - to assess the quality of their work - and university teachers - to understand students' strengths and weaknesses. This article reports on part of a broader exploratory study, which involved 360 undergraduate law students at a university in South Africa. Weekly formative computer-based assessments (CBAs) were introduced prior to lectures for a period of eight weeks. This intervention could be understood as a variant of FA, which is described by Carless (2007, 171) as 'pre-emptive assessment'. A survey was conducted among students and lecturers at the end of the pre-emptive FA intervention. The study found strong support for the use of FA among students, as well as lecturers, and showed a high participation rate in the FA among students. The study further challenged Biggs' (1989, 7) four-step model of constructive alignment with regard to the role of FA that can precede teaching activities. Hence, it proposes an adaptation of that model.


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