Friday, 21 March 2014

Technology & Assessment: Using Mobile Devices to Gather Evidence of Learning

Good assessment begins with good planning. 

When I reflect on my practice as a classroom teacher, often the assessment struggles I encountered were the result of my own failure to plan sufficiently. When I wasn't totally clear about the achievement criteria for _(insert assignment name/project here)_, invariably my students weren't clear either.  When I didn't consider the strengths and learning needs of my students, all too often individuals "fell through the cracks" or the quality of their work suffered. If I didn't plan from the outset how we would gather evidence of learning, no one knew where they were going or what was expected of them until the very last minute -- often with catastrophic results.  So in retrospect, I guess the bottom line is that when I put the cart before the horse (activities ahead of solid planning), the goal was unclear and most of the time, this meant it was missed by students completely. (Being clear about the criteria for any assignment is a critical step and the topic is worthy of its own blog post -- stay tuned for a more comprehensive look at criteria in an upcoming post!)
Photo shared with permission

However, assuming that the criteria is clear to both teacher and student, today teachers have more options for HOW they will gather evidence of learning than ever before -- if they plan for it! While ALL interaction with students yields some sort of assessment evidence, the four main types of evidence we can use to determine if students have met the learning goal(s) are:
  • Products or Performances
  • Observations
  • Conversations
  • Student self-reflections
Almost all mobile devices these days have certain "affordances" -- strengths or features -- that make them well suited for gathering a wide range of evidence of learning in the classroom. These common affordances are: (1) they are readily available (and often student owned); (2) they can take high quality digital photographs; (3) they have the ability to record audio; (4) they provide easy-to-use video recording; and (5) they are portable (mobile).

Here are a few ideas, organized according to evidence type, that teachers and students can use to gather (and share) evidence of learning:

Products or Performances: 
Student might:
Create a video of him/herself rehearsing a presentation, and comparing their performance to the success criteria (rubric descriptors) to determine areas for improvement/next steps (formative)
Create a video of him/herself and receive peer feedback from a classmate (using same process as above) (formative)
Take a photograph of a visual he/she created and compare it to exemplars or assess it against the rubric criteria; student would make changes if necessary (formative)

Teacher might:
Photograph each student’s product (work) and provide feedback on their analysis as well as recommend revisions as needed (either in a face to face conference, with "2 stars and a wish", Screen Chomp…) (formative)
Videotape the final presentation and use it to make a judgement against the rubric criteria (summative)

Student might:
Take a photograph of each step in the building process during a science project (gathering materials, brainstorming/planning diagram, blueprint, construction of model, testing…) and create a digital story evaluating the final product (alternative to written self-reflection sheet) (summative)

Teacher might:
Create a video of each student during the construction phase and perhaps ask students to show how their model reflects the blueprint they’ve created (formative or summative)

Student might:
Record (audio or video) a conversation with their teacher about the work and use the feedback to adjust the strategy/revise their work (formative)

Teacher might:
- Record (audio or video) a conversation with students to gain clarity/more insight into their thinking process for the purpose of identifying misconceptions and providing further instruction

** CLICK HERE for video exemplar of a student explaining his personal addition strategies to his teacher

Student self-reflection:
Student might:
Self-reflect orally using prompts (provided by the teacher) and record reflection (audio or video); share with a classmate and have him/her check work for accuracy  (formative)
Choose an area they struggled with (identified on a written self-reflection sheet) and create a video discussing what they are having difficulty with. Submit to teacher for feedback. (formative or summative)

Teacher might:
- Capture video evidence of students reflecting on their difficulties completing a task, and then use this information to plan supports to help students
Keep copies of video evidence and share this at parent-teacher conferences (provide parents with resources to help their child with an area of difficulty…)

Final thought: Together we are stronger than we are alone...

Do you have any other ideas to share about how you might use mobile devices to capture evidence of learning? Please post your thoughts/ideas below!


  1. Hope you don't mind, I've tweeted this out to all and sundry. Thanks for doing it. I've been talking about this for so long without knowing enough about how to do it: too old, but I'm trying to keep up!

    1. Thanks Ruth! No one at AAC thinks of you as old...just wise! :)

  2. Great post! Love the ideas included and plan to link to this for my future students in Assessment and Evaluation courses. I have also presented/shared ideas on a similar topic (Using Tech for Assessment for Learning) - find related resources at
    Thanks again!