Asee peer logo

Formative Assessment: An Illustrative Example Using “Alice”

Download Paper |


2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Engineering Education Research and Assessment III

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.639.1 - 10.639.8



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Wanda Dann

author page

Stephen Cooper

author page

Ashlyn Hutchinson

author page

Barbara Moskal

Download Paper |

NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Formative Assessment: An Illustrative Example Using “Alice”

Ashlyn Hutchinsona, Barbara Moskala, Wanda Dannb, Stephen Cooperc Colorado School of Minesa/ Ithaca Collegeb/ Saint Joseph’s Universityc


There are two primary phases of assessment: formative and summative. The formative phase of assessment focuses upon improving the study’s design, methodologies and evaluations as the study is being implemented. Summative assessment, on the other hand, is used to evaluate the overall effectiveness of the research intervention. The appropriateness of the conclusions that are drawn during the summative phase is partially dependent on the formative phase. Difficulties that arise with respect to data collection and faulty instruments damage the validity of a study’s final results. These problems can be rectified during the formative phase by carefully selecting and/or creating assessment instruments and conducting a pilot investigation before summative data is collected. This paper illustrates the formative phase of assessment and how the information collected during the formative phase was used to improve the design of a study that investigated an innovative approach to teaching introductory computer science. This work was supported in part by NSF-03020542.

I. Introduction

In most reported engineering education studies, the emphasis of the discussion concerning assessment is based on summative data. Summative data, after all, allows the researcher to examine the extent to which the stated goals and objectives of the investigation have been reached. The formative phase of the assessment process is often not reported, yet the validity of the conclusions drawn from an investigation is partially dependent on this phase. Formative assessment helps the researcher to improve the design and implementation of a project while the project is underway.1 It is during the formative phases of assessment that initial validity evidence is collected and analyzed.2 During this critical stage of the assessment process, changes can be made to the research and assessment design and these changes can improve the quality of the information that is obtained during the summative phases of assessment. This paper directly illustrates the formative phase of assessment and how information acquired through this phase was used to improve the Java-based Animation: Building virtual Worlds for Object-oriented programming in Community colleges (JABRWOC) project and its assessment.

The JABRWOC project is a three year project, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), which aims to improve the community college approach to computing education (NSF, DUE-0302542).3 JABRWOC has the following three goals: 1) to combat high attrition levels in first year computer science and information technology courses, 2) to strengthen the appeal of computer science, thereby increasing the number of computer related majors, and 3) to introduce a much needed programming component into computer literacy classes.3 The JABRWOC

“Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education”

Dann, W., & Cooper, S., & Hutchinson, A., & Moskal, B. (2005, June), Formative Assessment: An Illustrative Example Using “Alice” Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--15149

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2005 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015