Partnering with the Hawai‘i Department of Education and Texas Instruments to provide TI-Navigator networked classroom systems to fifteen middle schools in Hawai‘i, the Formative Assessment in a Networked Classroom (FANC) project looked at the use of formative assessment practices in mathematics by comparing two different professional development (PD) models that were designed to provide teachers with strategies to implement formative assessment in a networked classroom.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) funded project focused on algebraic concepts, the use of formative assessment, and the use of the TI-Navigator system and TI 73 calculators in networked classrooms. The middle school mathematics teachers were randomly assigned into two groups: Group 1 (FA-then-NAV group) received professional development in formative assessment without networked technology in the first year and then added the use of networked technology to implement formative assessment in the second year. Group 2 (FA-and-NAV group) received professional development in using networked technology to implement formative assessment in two consecutive years. Each model included a five-day summer workshop and five follow-up sessions during Year 1 along with in-school coaching. During the second year all teachers participated in a three-day summer workshop and five follow-up sessions during the school year along with in-school coaching.
Project FANC examined the effectiveness of the two models by colleting data on student achievement and teacher’s content knowledge for teaching, knowledge and self-efficacy of formative assessment, and knowledge and use of technology.
Unlike many studies of technology in the classroom, the FANC project went beyond looking at how the technology was used. Researchers looked at the formative assessment strategies the technology facilitated in the classroom and at how that impacted students learning. The data provided these significant findings.
Results regarding student achievement showed no differences between the students in the FA-then-NAV and FA-and-NAV groups, suggesting no effect of the sequence in which teachers were trained in formative assessment and using TI–Navigator to implement formative assessment practices.
Students made significant gains between the pretest and posttest in year 2 indicating that teachers in each professional development model were effective in increasing student achievement in year 2.
Teachers’ perceived efficacy in using formative assessment was a significant predictor of student achievement, with higher self-efficacy associated with higher achievement.
Teachers’ content knowledge for teaching was a significant predictor of student achievement, with higher teacher content knowledge associated with higher achievement.
Teachers’ content knowledge increased significantly during the year following their introduction to TI–Navigator.
Teachers’ use of Learn Check (a TI–Navigator tool) was a significant predictor of student achievement, with more use of Learn Check associated with higher student scores.
While there were no differences in effectiveness found between PD models from the beginning of the study to the end of year 2, teacher growth in knowledge of formative assessment, interest in technology, and perceived value of technology had different growth trajectories in the two models.
The researchers were excited about the potential this system created for changing the classroom culture. “The system serves all students,” Judy Olson said, “by creating a learning community where all students are involved in a collaborative process. The focus is on teachers and students engaging in formative assessment to impact instruction and student learning, an especially important aspect in mathematics where often a right answer is the only focus.”
As Project FANC comes to an end, the research team continues working with many of the FANC schools. Two whole-school projects are ongoing at Kalākaua Middle School in Honolulu and Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School on Kaua‘i. The FANC research team obtained external grants to continue the work at Kalākaua, while obtaining funding for the work at Chiefess was spearheaded by the Kaua‘i Economic Development Board.