The use of formative assessment and support materials to assist students in taking control of their own online learning

Document Type

Conference Proceeding


Faculty of Computing, Health and Science


School of Nursing, Midwifery and Postgraduate Medicine / Systems and Intervention Research Centre for Health




Brightwell, R. F., & Buchannan, D. (2012, September). The use of formative assessment and support materials to assist students in taking control of their own online learning. In Proceedings of The Australian Conference on Science and Mathematics Education (formerly UniServe Science Conference).(pp18-23) Available here


Traditionally, science instruction has focused on creating an interactive, intrinsically motivational approach to teaching, i.e., ‘delivery’, but there is a need to be paying just as much attention to empower students with the ability to ‘receive’ the science. Some of the keys to this recipe include the use of self-assessment tests; activities that require the interpretation of case studies; peer instruction interactions; online and multimedia lessons which encourage top-down/bottom up science processing strategies to decipher meaning; and simulations that test all of the science skills in action. Online materials foster autonomous learners in a science practice. The end goal progresses students to function outside a passive classroom environment so they may, without the aid of an external evaluator, shift the process of learning from the teacher to the student. This paper addresses critical issues in Anatomy and Physiology education; how to better motivate students and help them make the connection to what is important to learn; how to get students to see the whole topic rather than minute details; how to help students who lack study skills and how to instill critical thinking skills from entry to the course so as to succeed in learning attribution to efficacy. Within this philosophical framework, formative assessment techniques provide students with the knowledge and detail that is needed to move forward in their careers, through an emphasis on critical thinking, conceptual understanding, and relevant application of knowledge. In doing so the resources provided help students to:

• come to class better prepared for lectures

• get immediate feedback and context-sensitive help on assignments and quizzes; and

• track their progress throughout the course

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