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Title: The use of formative assessment (FA) in online teaching and learning during the COVID-19 compulsory education school closure : the Maltese experience
Authors: Said Pace, Doreen
Keywords: Web-based instruction -- Malta
Web-based instruction -- Evaluation
COVID-19 (Disease) -- Social aspects
Education, Compulsory -- Malta
Issue Date: 2020-12
Publisher: University of Malta. Faculty of Education
Citation: Said Pace, D. (2020). The use of formative assessment (FA) in online teaching and learning during the COVID-19 compulsory education school closure : the Maltese experience. Malta Review of Educational Research, 14(2), 243-271.
Abstract: COVID-19 has shaken up the definition and perception of normality. Overnight, educators within the compulsory education sector in Malta had to change their modus operandi from face-to-face to online modality, this despite limited training on remote teaching and learning. This change shifted to a considerable degree the responsibility of learning onto the learners, something which, perhaps, Maltese students were not much accustomed to. Hence, the pandemic has fast-tracked the slow change that the Ministry for Education and Employment (MEDE) (2012) had been trying to bring about – that of having learners as partners in the learning and assessment processes. Assessment for Learning (AfL) is by far the only evidence-based research which has proven to be the most cost-effective benefit for student achievement when practiced well (Black, Harrison, Lee, Marshall, & Wiliam, 2004; Black & Wiliam, 1998). The Directorate for Learning and Assessment Programmes (DLAP) within Malta’s centralized education system, while making efforts to include formative assessment as part of the teaching and learning process, had not considered using it during online teaching and learning practices, as there never was the need to teach compulsory school students remotely. Hence, it was relevant to investigate whether this assessment modality was being used during online teaching and learning, especially when the digital tools had in-built FA tools. This study presents insights from four-hundred responses received to an online questionnaire about the use of formative assessment by Maltese educators across the different providers and levels of education pr i o r t o and during school closure. Results reflect teachers’ use of a combination of strategies, which declined significantly when learning was transferred online. The highest number of combinations of four strategies, followed by a set of three remained consistent in terms of being the mostly preferred modes of formative assessment used by teachers. The decline has been laterally spread onto other group combinations. Effective Questioning was the most used strategy in a set of combinations during physical classes, while both oral and written feedback were the most used, albeit to a different degree, when teaching online. Teachers who used a blended approach used both types of feedback, however, those who adopted an asynchronous approach relied on written feedback. The change in teaching approach has witnessed a four-type practice variation in the use of FA strategies: no change, slight, moderate and major change. The study raised the issue of teachers needing to work outside their comfort zone as they had to adapt to the new circumstances, misconceptions about what online teaching and learning entails, knowledge of the possibilities of FA in this modality, and the need for further training as part of professional development.
Appears in Collections:MRER, Volume 14, Issue 2
MRER, Volume 14, Issue 2

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