Instructor formative assessment practices in virtual learning environments : a posthumanist sociomaterial perspective
The importance of undergraduate science learning for the workforce and scientific literacy is consistently emphasized by prominent organizations and influential publications such as the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) (1993, 2013), the National Research Council (NRC) (2010, 2011, 2012a, 2012b, 2013) and the Coalition for Reform of Undergraduate Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Education (CRUSE) (2014). Moreover, important undergraduate and K-12 reform policy documents including the National Research Council (NRC) (2012) and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) (Achieve Inc., 2013) set lofty goals aimed at improving science education. At the same time, science curricula content and assessment are shifting to virtual formats (Smetana & Bell, 2012), and enabling learning and assessment to be depicted in more dynamic and interactive ways. Furthermore, assessment scholarship offers opportunities to make instructional decisions with the aim to aid student learning (e.g. Bell, 2007; Black & Wiliam, 1998, NRC, 2012; Shepard, 2000). Nonetheless, harnessing the full potential of virtual formats to reach these goals for science learning and assessment has proven challenging. Therefore, in this research study, I explored how the technology in one online undergraduate biological science course can impact how an instructor can aid student learning. ... The findings have implications for instruction and research and suggest that learning communities may want to consider that student centered learning theories and student-centered course design for online education could be incomplete. The primary implication includes ways to support formative assessment practices for science instructors in virtual environments by looping instructor formative assessment opportunities throughout a course. Finally, these findings can help others develop assessments that fully support student learning by including the instructor's assessment needs and abilities. The conclusions I present cannot be considered a solution to all courses. However, I encourage other researchers to consider alternative explanation(s) by thinking with theory.
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