Date of this Version
JOURNAL OF MICROBIOLOGY & BIOLOGY EDUCATION Volume 18, Number 1
Formative assessment (FA) techniques, such as pre-class assignments, in-class activities, and post-class homework, have been shown to improve student learning. While many students find these techniques beneficial, some students may not understand how they support learning or may resist their implementation. Improving our understanding of FA buy-in has important implications, since buy-in can potentially affect whether students fully engage with and learn from FAs. We investigated FAs in 12 undergraduate biology courses to understand which student characteristics influenced buy-in toward FAs and whether FA buy-in predicted course success. We administered a mid-semester survey that probed student perceptions toward several different FA types, including activities occurring before, during, and after class. The survey included closed-ended questions aligned with a theoretical framework outlining key FA objectives. We used factor analysis to calculate an overall buy-in score for each student and general linear models to determine whether certain characteristics were associated with buy-in and whether buy-in predicted exam scores and course grades. We found that unfixed student qualities, such as perceptions, behaviors, and beliefs, consistently predicted FA buy-in, while fixed characteristics, including demographics, previous experiences, and incoming performance metrics, had more limited effects. Importantly, we found that higher buy-in toward most FA types predicted higher exam scores and course grades, even when controlling for demographic characteristics and previous academic performance. We further discuss steps that instructors can take to maximize student buy-in toward FAs.