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FaSMEd is a  design research  (Swan, 2014) project. This is a formative approach in which a product or process (or ‘tool’) is envisaged, designed, developed and refined through cycles of enactment, observation, analysis and redesign, with systematic feedback from end-users. Educational theory is used to inform the design and refinement of the tools, and is itself refined during the research process. Its goals are to create innovative tools for others to use, to describe and explain how these tools function, account for the range of implementations that occur and develop principles and theories that may guide future designs. Ultimately, the goal is transformative; we seek to create new teaching and learning possibilities and study their impact on end-users.

We focused on the use of technology in formative assessment classroom practices in ways that allow teachers to respond to the emerging needs of (especially low achieving) students in mathematics and science so that they are better motivated in their learning of these important subjects. The design research objective was to produce a toolkit for teachers which would enable them to implement formative assessment practices supported by technology.

In order to inform the design research process, case studies were produced by all partners, which were then analysed in two ways: within the specific case’s context and across countries to answer the following research questions:

  • How do teachers process formative assessment data from students using a range of technologies?
  • How do teachers inform their future teaching using such data?
  • How is formative assessment data used by students to inform their learning trajectories?
  • When technology is positioned as a learning tool rather than a data logger for the teacher, what issues does this pose for the teacher in terms of their being able to become more informed about student understanding?

More general research questions to be addressed as a theme across the project were:

  • How can research-informed approaches help to understand and address key challenges in enhancing participation, engagement and achievement in science/ mathematics (in particular to address differences linked to socio-economic status, gender, and ethnicity which appear to be linked to low achievement)?
  • What specific new interventions, or changes in policy or practice, offer the greatest potential to improve engagement and learning in science/ mathematics and how could their potential effectiveness and feasibility be assessed more fully?

The main reports, explaining the methodology, cross-country and cross case comparisons are here:

Building on prior knowledge guide Methodology Building on prior knowledge guide Comparison of case studies Building on prior knowledge guide Comparison of country reports

To get more information about the research within the FaSMEd project or to view reports, for example on the use of tools and technology to support teaching and assessment in the partner countries or the full detail of case studies, visit the FaSMEd research homepage.


Here you will be able to find a list of all publications related to the FaSMEd project.

Formative assessment in Science and
Mathematics Education (FaSMEd)
The Research Centre for Learning and Teaching
Newcastle University