The Use of Formative Assessment in Improving Attainment and Retention

Gregory Owen

University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Swansea, Mount Pleasant Campus, Swansea, SA1 6ED;

5th May 2017 


It has been long understood that the use of formative assessments in teaching and learning has proven benefits for learner engagement and attainment at secondary and FE institutions. Moreover, recent advances in formative e-learning systems for undergraduates have shown that improved attainment results have been observed for learners who engage with additional formative assessments and consequently receive regular feedback.

It is the intention of this paper to address the changing practices of how undergraduate engineering lectures are delivered, from historical ‘chalk and talk’ methods to learner-driven classrooms, where the lecturer becomes a learning facilitator. Newly developed techniques have been implemented here to drive this change and use formative assessment with constructive and regular feedback as a mechanism of allowing learners to take ownership of their own learning.

Formative assessments have been used to develop ‘measured assessment grades’ (MAG’s) and ‘target assessment grades’ (TAG’s) of individual learners with accompanying written feedback. Learners have been empowered with the knowledge of how well they are doing with respect to their target grade and what remedial action they need to take to achieve/surpass their target grade.

Initial trials have received positive feedback from learners who engage with the process and are focused upon achieving their potential however, further work needs to be considered to engage less committed learners through (VLE) and other forms of learning environments.