Is formative assessment's rather robust effect size mainly due to content specific feedback causes, or due to social/group dynamic causes?
As per Michele Kerr's post up on Cuban's blog, I don't think the power dynamics in a class which emerge in social interactions should be underestimated. Formative assessment necessarily establishes the teacher's social presence. Bandura's Social-Cogntive theory certainly suggests that changing group dynamics and environmental influences alters goals (individuals and group), which thus change performance.
Perhaps an easy way to verify effect sizes would be to compare the difference in formative assessment effect size when formative assessment is provided by
- a computer known not to be controlled or influenced in any way with the teacher
- written feedback from the teacher
- media rich feedback from the teacher
- one-way live feedback from the teacher
- interactive two-way feedback between teacher and student
Results should be studied on a micro and macro time-scale. Chances are pretty good that prolonged exposure to 1 or 4/5 will make a significant difference in social dynamics in play during teaching. Obviously I'd have to done some much better thinking in order to figure out how to control for teacher-student/class sociality with 1.
If anyone knows of studies which have gone down this path, let me know...