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What Fitness Bands Can Teach Us about Classroom Assessment

Submitted by on August 12, 2015 – 9:00 amNo Comment

By: Karen S. Buchanan, EdD

A colleague of mine recently engaged with a new technology tool that has changed her life. She purchased and became a vigilant user of the fitness band.
This wristband tracks her movement and sleep. Although fitness bands are cool tech tools, their “magic” is rooted in the continuous feedback they provide
on one’s progress toward fitness goals determined by age, height/weight, and activity level. This amazing device has helped my colleague lose 40 pounds and
increase her activity level fourfold in the last seven months. Watching her response and seeing her success have caused me to revisit what we know about
the power of formative assessment as a learning tool.

Formative assessment can be any assessment that first and foremost promotes students’ learning. Many refer to this type of assessment as assessment “for”
learning. In contrast, summative assessment, or assessment “of” learning, looks at grades or scores that give a final judgment or evaluation of
proficiency. Assessment “for” learning is usually more informal and includes aspects of teaching. It is formative because it gathers evidence that helps
teachers better meet the learning needs of students as well as empowering students to be change agents in their achievement. A host of studies have shown
that when formative assessment is implemented effectively, it can greatly enhance, or even double, the speed of student learning. It is a tool that, much
like the fitness band, has the potential to facilitate amazing results.

The fitness band helps users see where their current data sits in relation to their goals.

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Karen S. Buchanan is an associate professor of education at George Fox University.

Reprinted from The Teaching Professor, 28.2 (2014):
1,3. © Magna Publications. All rights reserved.

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