Why formative assessment is important to Student ICT Learning?

By Michael Hilkemeijer


Assessment is vital as it allows teachers to keep track of student learning progression and plan appropriately for children to achieve the learning outcomes. Formative assessment in primary schools is considered to be a method where teachers can determine if their teaching has been pitched appropriately. Methods such as feedback and evidence gathering are important in this process. 



Using Formative Assessment in Early Childhood


This article will provide you with the expertise you need in relation to evidence gathering and feedback methods towards a student’s ICT capability.


Take the following examples of formative assessment in primary school. In your English lessons, you would never consider a finished writing sample to be of much value. It would be of no use to you.

You would need to go back through the draft book to understand the process the child went through. The child also needs to understand this so that they can progress in their learning. I will discuss this further with you later on.


The embedding of formative assessment in primary school classrooms plays a significant role in ICT capability development. Like with the writing sample, an assessment of the finished ICT product will provide you with only partial and often very limited evidence of a child’s ICT capability. The finished product is the final element of a much longer, more complex process and it is the processes itself that will provide you with assessment opportunities.


In the coming sections, you will learn how to achieve this by implementing formative assessment strategies in primary school. First, it is important that you begin at the start to develop your own conceptual understanding.


Formative assessment in primary school


What does formative assessment mean?

The simple definition of formative assessment comes down to your ability as a teacher to assess a young child’s work throughout the learning period. It is a way in which you obtain information about a child’s performance, which you then use to guide your subsequent teaching.

In terms of integrating ICT and assessment for learning, formative assessment involves monitoring students’ progress against expectations in each element and strand of ICT capability. Basically, the strategies that you use for any other subject are the same - making judgments, observing, monitoring work in progress, and assessing a finished product. 



The importance of formative assessment is stated by no one better than Dylan Williams to explain why formative assessment is important. He quoted:

“For any teacher, examining the relationship between ‘What did I do as a teacher?’ and ‘What did my students learn?’ is always the most powerful focus for reflecting on your practice.”


Most ICT learning activities are practical, therefore, the most useful formative assessment tool as a teacher is your own observation of the child in all contexts and interaction with them about their work.


As children develop their capability in ICT, their technical skills become less important and their higher order thinking skills become more important.

This is evident in the ICT capability Learning Continuum level description statements.


Can you recall what I said at the beginning about processes?


They provide you with opportunities for formative assessment. Processes are developed by the supported combination of ICT techniques into multistage procedures, in a range of problem situations, with an increasing degree of personal autonomy, and active involvement in part of the student.


Planning for the assessment of processes, instead of ICT techniques, has time implications. You would need to focus on a group and observe how they plan and carry out a task.

Additionally, it would be important for you to intervene at the appropriate times to ask them key questions. As most ICT activities encourage collaboration amongst students, group work may be a problem. However, there are ways to overcome these issues with solutions to ICT problems in education.



The key elements of ICT capability are practical. So routines and techniques, for example, requires a combination of a series of sub-skills. Some of these are more sophisticated and/or efficient than others.

For example, the printout of a document will not show whether the positioning of text has been achieved by the repeated use of the space bar, the use of tab marks, the inclusion of an invisible table or the use of alignment tools (e.g. left, centre or right align).


formative assessment in primary school

What does the formative assessment involve in relation to ICT capability?

Formative assessment in primary schools is also what is known as Assessment for Learning (AfL). It is the day-to-day assessment that helps you judge student learning progression in ICT capability for example.

It forms a key part of the assessment cycle for ICT capability and would include the following principles:

  • Observing how the child goes about tackling a piece of work;
  • Diagnosing difficulties which become apparent over a series of lessons;
  • Observing which planning strategies appear to work and allow the child to succeed in a given area;
  • Collecting significant pieces of work in a portfolio of development;
  • Noting the context of the work and any factors which were significant: the grouping, the time taken, the level of concentration, etc;
  • Noting the views of the child about the piece of work and asking them what made the activity so successful/significant;
  • Feeding the information back into the planning process;
  • When appropriate, making a judgement about the child’s level of attainment in terms of the level descriptions in the attainment targets for ICT Capability in the Learning Continuum of the Australian Curriculum (at the end of the Level stages in the primary school);
  • At all times keeping a clear focus on the learning objective; this is very important as well as having a general awareness of other learning taking place.

(Allen, Potter, Sharpe, & Turvey, 2012, p. 71)


In summary, you could say it has strategies to do with:

  • Identifying what you want the children to learn;
  • Deciding what evidence is needed;
  • Gathering the evidence;
  • Recording the evidence;
  • Using the record to plan, target and focus on student ICT learning.


It also involves providing valuable student feedback. When it comes to assessing ICT, the formative assessment strategies you need to employ would involve using different strategies for each component.


You need to first understand what the desired outcome is in terms of student ICT capability. This can be done by using the ICT capability Learning Continuum as a guide in personalised learning and developing your level of understanding in ICT capability.


Formative and Summative Assessment

It is important that you combine formative and summative assessment in primary school. For example, an integrated system would need to include assessments on the go (formative – where you add to portfolios) and assessments at the end (summative – presentation of the final portfolio).



Examples of formative assessment

7 More Ways to Plan Effectively for Learning

Formative assessment in primary schools is about discovering what children know in the process of learning. It is best way for you as a teacher to plan for learning progression in the curriculum context. Below I have listed some other formative assessment examples that you can embed into your classroom practice and some may also be able to apply when using technology in the classroom activities.


However, what are other formative assessment benefits? Assessment is vital as it allows you to track progress and allows you to plan appropriately for children to achieve the learning outcomes you set for them. Without proper assessment in any subject, there is no real evidence or knowledge of where the children are up to and planning becomes empty and meaningless.

  1. Greater increases in student achievement and attainment levels
  2. Formative assessment in primary schools occurs within and between instructional units of work
  3. Greater professional satisfaction and increased student engagement in learning.


With formative assessment in primary schools taking place the impact on student learning is big. In fact, the shorter the time interval between eliciting the evidence and using it to improve instruction, the bigger the impact on student learning.


Here is what some of the online students wrote on the formative assessment workshop and its impact on student learning:


“I now have a better understanding of what the students can do, so, therefore can plan and cater for their needs more efficiently. I am giving student their needs more efficiently. I am giving students the opportunity to work beyond their skills and demonstrate their extensive skills.”



So here are several more formative assessment examples that you can embed in your teaching practices in primary school today.


  1. Entry and Exit slips
  2. Low stakes quizzes and polls
  3. Dipsticks
  4. Interview assessments
  5. Methods that incorporate art
  6. Misconception and errors
  7. Self-assessment


You can find out more about applying formative assessment in primary schools here.


Formative Assessment Professional Development


Accredited Online Workshop for Primary Teachers

In our formative assessment professional development online workshop, we provide key examples of formative assessment in primary schools in relation to the assessment of student ICT capability in key learning areas.


Formative Assessment in Primary Schools Online Workshop


Research has shown (Fleer, 2016; Bennett, 2007; Allen et al., 2012) that formative assessment strategies in primary school that would benefit the teaching and learning of ICT capability through key learning areas include these learning outcomes:

  • Implement different strategies for each component of ICT capability;
  • Understand the issues surrounding assessing ICT capability;
  • Develop skilled observations of individual contributions to partner work in ICT;
  • Develop skills in monitoring student ICT work;
  • Keep track of student learning progression;
  • Devise methods for children to monitor and assess their own ICT learning;
  • Set prescribed challenges for students;
  • Strategically plan for teacher interventions at the opportune moments;
  • Plan for learning progression in ICT capability.

These are all key examples of formative assessment in primary school today.

It is important that you:

  1. Understand how to make judgements about the conceptual and procedural technological knowledge of the children;
  2. Have clear technological outcomes in mind;
  3. Don’t make judgements about children’s behaviours, such as praising the children and making summative assessments.



Formative assessment in primary school is just as important for student ICT capability as it is for literacy, numeracy, science and any other key learning area where you may use it in your classroom today.

What you need to do is to judge the decisions children make in order to create a finished product.

Processes represent a significant part of knowledge, understanding, and ICT skills described in the ICT capability Learning Continuum.

By understanding formative assessment strategies in primary schools, you will grow an appreciation of where a student is, where they are heading, and where they should be in terms of their learning progression in ICT capability.


If you want to embed these formative assessment strategies today, join our online professional learning community in our accredited formative assessment professional development now.

Completing this formative assessment professional development will contribute to 5 hours of NESA and TQI PD addressing 2.6.2 and 5.1.2 of Australian Professional Standards for Teachers towards maintaining Proficient Teacher Accreditation in NSW, ACT, QLD, and Victoria.



COURSE JOINING FEE: $25 USD per month or a one-time payment for course lifetime access of $250 USD.