Formative Assessment strategies for Primary ICT Integrators

By Michael Hilkemeijer

The use of digital technologies throughout any curriculum today poses a number of issues for those primary ICT integrators actively seeking to ensure that progression and continuity of student learning occurs.

A question which you may ask yourself is - “How can you measure a student’s progress in terms of ICT literacy”?

As educators in the primary classroom, we place enormous emphasis on technology integration. So what is the best approach to assessing student ICT capability in the classroom?

Formative assessment methods is by far the most effective approach for you as a teacher to record a student’s progress in ICT capability. The best thing about formative assessment is that it can be shared with students to make them aware of their strengths and weaknesses. It is what is known as ‘assessment for learning’ and there are a number of ways in which it can be used.

Formative assessment is ideal for the primary classroom as national curricula including the Australian Curriculum, have ensured that progression in student ICT capability mainly falls within the primary realm.

An example of when you might use formative assessment in the primary curriculum is when a student completes a desktop publishing newsheet in an English lesson. You might provide feedback, some of which might be positive, and in other elements may identify areas of improvement.

Before you learn about these assessment methods, it is important to understand that assessing ICT capability is more than just determining how well a child can handle hardware. Instead, it comprises of other elements, the main one being higher order skills and conceptual understanding.

Formative assessment in ICT

Formative Assessment Strategies when Assessing Student ICT Capability

The following formative assessment strategies are designed to provide you with different strategies for each component.

Here are formative assessment methods to help you assess student ICT capability in your classroom today:

Individual Profiling

This is a means of mapping students’ progress through the various work samples collected and observations made.

Individual profiling can be achieved by:

Observation coupled with key questioning – the questions must be structured to help develop their higher order skills and their understanding of the concepts that underpin each ICT technique they use.

It is important that these questions help students to reflect on the appropriateness of their use of ICT. This may require you to limit their freedom to some extent. For example, whenever they think it may be appropriate to use an ICT technique or even the computer to start off with in the activity they are doing, they need to convince you that their argument is sound.

Remember that an observation of the finished product will only provide you with partial and very limited evidence of a child’s ICT capability. Continuous observation of students needs to be achieved to gather the evidence you need.

Your observation can either be informal or structured. Informal observation involves you monitoring the way they respond to your explanations, how they answer your questions, whether they are applying themselves to the tasks you have set, whether you have pitched the level of demand appropriately, and you monitor the changing mood and relationships between different children or groups of children (Bennett, 2007). Structured observation, on the other hand, will involve you or a colleague monitoring the whole class to get an overview of their progress or even a group. You will need an observation schedule and even a coding system to enable you to log particular responses.


Look at this example from Bennett (2007) of recording how well students edited video clips in an English project:

A — applied with confidence

B — needed some help

C — needed considerable support

D — attempted but unsuccessful

E — not attempted

X — not observed.


Don’t forget to include the final category so that you can identify students you haven’t observed. These can be prioritized for the next lesson.

Monitoring and intervening – ICT capability is made up of five key components so each of these needs to be monitored appropriately. Here’s how:

  • Routines – these are recognised with the ease and speed students carry out ICT techniques. Have a list of ICT techniques with you to monitor this and ensure that it is kept up-to-date. Determine how ICT techniques were executed. For example, a student may be hesitant, steady or fluent.
  • ICT Techniques – have a checklist of ICT techniques for each class and provide the minimum amount of support required. Afterwards, withdraw this support as soon as possible.
  • Processes – check each students’ conceptual understanding of the ICT techniques that they are using. Provide the minimum amount of support required and structure the activity by questioning, prompting and demonstrating where necessary.
  • Higher order skills – this can be assessed by asking specific questions and by observing how students can carry out a task after the support you provide is withdrawn.


Student Self-assessment

Giving rise to real progression, self-assessments can provide students more freedom to use ICT in appropriate ways if you want to make them responsible for recording their own progress.

To achieve this, you need to provide them with a range of ICT skills that they will need to demonstrate they achieve over a period of time. Formative assessment methods such as this will give ownership of learning back to the students themselves which is important. It allows them to know what is expected of them and puts them in a better position to plan and organise their way to the end goal.

When you develop the assessment sheets, it will be important that they are done professionally and be in a tabular structure. Language levels need to be written in a way that the students can understand what they are reading and there should be spaces for the students to indicate that they have undertaken the particular work.

The disadvantages that you will need to keep in mind have to do with its use as a formative assessment method in curriculum subjects. It would be ideal for you to ensure that they are included in each subject’s folder or exercise books.

Other formative assessment methods with ICT include:

Saving or printing documents at various stages of completion – this is great practice for your students to do as it provides you with evidence of a student’s work at various stages of competing the activity. It will show you how much they have progressed. So encourage them to do this at set intervals, for example, at the end of a lesson if work had not been completed.

Asking students to log their decision at key points in an activity – this is a great formative assessment tool when they are working in pairs, with one child completing an activity log sheet explaining the reasoning behind a particular technique or ticking a box to show which approach was selected while the other is working at the keyboard.

Using photographic evidence – most of us teachers tend to have a smartphone near us, so depending on your school’s policy you can take photos of students’ work and then send it to your work computer to put into a student portfolio later on. Another way, could be to ask your students to take screen shots of their work at specific intervals and times of the activity. These can be pasted in MS Word documents and saved as part of their work progress. Ask the students to label each screen shot outlining the stages they went through in completing the task.

Formative assessment methods is the most powerful tool you can use when assessing a student’s capabilities in digital technologies.


Accredited Online Professional Development in Formative Assessment in ICT 

Accredited online PD in Formative Assessment in ICT

Course Objective

You will learn how to assess ICT capability as a requirement of the National Curriculum by applying current instructional principles, research and appropriate assessment practices to the uses of ICT in your classroom. In addition, I will give you the expertise you need to make informed decisions to help you unlock barriers to establishing a meaningful learning environment.

Completing this course will contribute to 5 hours of NESA registered PD addressing 2.6.2 and 5.1.2 of Australian Professional Standards for Teachers towards maintaining Proficient Teacher accreditation in NSW and Victoria.

 Cost: $95 per person

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