Learning from feedback with formative testing

Most people who receive education don’t know any better: you get lessons, then you get a test that will be graded. If at the end you meet the standard, you pass, get a certificate or have a party. After this, the circle of testing often starts again. With formative learning, a counter movement has arisen. How can this benefit your training program?

Test culture  

feedback formatief toetsenThere have been calls for change for some years now, particularly in high schools. More teachers are raising questions about the number of testing occasions and the inevitable ‘teaching to the test’. Sure, after a test you know whether your students are at the desired level, but what do you do with the other information provided by a grade? Furthermore, these (summative) tests take a lot of valuable time, which could be spent on lessons. That's why formative testing is taking off in education. And not only there, our training concept is also based on this principle.      

What is formative testing?

Formative testing means that the knowledge and skills of participants or students is measured multiple times during the learning process. Because of this you know pretty accurately how far your participants are, and you can keep improving the learning process. With measuring ‘along the way’, giving good and focused feedback is crucial, because good feedback contains information that can lead to improvement. In the ideal case, the participant knows exactly what has to be improved to be on the desired level in the end. This improves motivation and gives direction to their development.

Feedback from coaches

Within a training program, feedback is provided by coaches. In a Faculty of Skills program, these are our (professional) coaches or the manager of the participant. When the participant has practiced, for instance, a sales conversation, the recorded video will be sent to the coach. The coach provides the trainee with relevant feedback, so the trainee knows exactly what to improve. Next to coaches, colleagues can also be asked to provide feedback. The trainee goes through the training program in steps and gets multiple updates on their progression. The final test at the end of the program is practically a formality, meant to end an efficient learning process and to objectively prove the ultimate progression.           

The great thing about formative testing is that self-assessment and peer-assessment, often used in our programs, generate useful feedback as well. It actually makes sense: a formative testing culture is focused on educational improvement. This results in increased motivation and better grades.

Trainees at Rabobank are happy with the provided feedback! Read the case study and discover more about Rabobank's training program!

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