Formative Assessment Activities to Advance Education: A Case Study

Martina Holenko Dlab, Sanja Candrlic, Mile Pavlic
Journal of Information Technology Education: Innovations in Practice  •  Volume 20  •  2021  •  pp. 037-057

During the education of future engineers and experts in the field of computer science and information communication technology, the achievement of learning outcomes related to different levels of cognitive ability and knowledge dimensions can be a challenge.

Teachers need to design an appropriate set of activities for students and combine theory-based knowledge acquisition with practical training in technical skills. Including various activities for formative assessment during the course can positively affect students’ motivation for learning and ensure appropriate and timely feedback that will guide students in further learning.

The aim of the research presented in this paper is to propose an approach for course delivery in the field of software engineering and to determine whether the use of the approach increases student’s academic achievement. Using the proposed approach, the course Process Modeling for undergraduate students was redesigned and experimental study was conducted. Course results of the students (N=82) who took the new version of the course (experimental group) were compared to the results of the students from the control group (N=66).

An approach for a blended learning course in the field of software engineering was developed. This approach is based on the formative assessment activities that promote collaboration and the use of digital tools. Newly designed activities are used to encourage a greater level of acquired theoretical content and enhance the acquisition of subject-specific skills needed for practical tasks.

The results showed that students who participated in the formative assessment activities achieved significantly better results. They had significantly higher scores in the main components of assessment compared to the students from the control group. In addition, students from the experimental group expressed positive views about the effectiveness of the used approach.

The proposed approach has potential to increase students’ motivation and academic achievements so practitioners should consider to apply it in their own context.

Researchers are encouraged to conduct additional studies to explore the effectiveness of the approach with different courses and participants as well as to provide further insights regarding its applicability and acceptance by students.

The paper provides an approach and an example of good practice that may be beneficial for the university teachers in the field of computer science, information-communication technology, and engineering.

In the future, face-to-face activities will be adapted for performance in an online environment. Future work will also include a research on the possibilities of personalization of activities in accordance with the students’ characteristics.

assessment, collaborative learning, course design, digital tools, process modeling
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