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Workshop to Improve Assessment of Prof. Development in Technician Education

Our HI-TEC Virtual 2021 presentation. An overview of Formative Assessment Backward Design, and an interview with Rick Polanin and Michael Fox of Weld-Ed.

The National Science Foundation's Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program has been funding innovation at two-year colleges for over twenty years. With a focus on the education of technicians for the high-technology fields that drive our nation's economy, and strong partnerships between academic institutions and industry, ATE promotes improvement in the education of science and engineering technicians at the undergraduate and secondary school levels.

To learn more about ATE, please visit the NSF ATE program home page.


PI: Robin Datta, Ph.D.

Faculty, Political Science

Edmonds College

T: +1-425-640-1590 


Co-PI: Amy Gullickson, Ph.D.

Senior Lecturer

Centre for Program Evaluation, Melbourne Graduate School of Education

The University of Melbourne

T: +61 3 9035 9682



Terryll A. Bailey, President

The Allison Group

T: +1-206-525-7175


Research Assistant

Mia Chen

Centre for Program Evaluation, Melbourne Graduate School of Education

The University of Melbourne


Formative Assessment Systems for Advances Technical Education Two

Gathering information about the impact of teacher professional development on student learning is challenging!

While professional development opportunities flourish, an ongoing challenge is providing evidence that these activities make a difference in fostering the growth of the knowledge, skills, and productive attitudes of students who are pursuing technician careers in STEM fields.

The Formative Assessment for Advanced Technician Education 2 (FAS4ATE2) project draws together earlier research and international expertise at the Centre for Program Evaluation at the University of Melbourne (AUS) to address two concerns: how best to design formative assessment for ATE PD and to discover what design factors allow for more effective reporting of student-level outcomes. 

Beginning With The End In Mind: Outcomes + Tools + Logic Model. 

Our first activity is developing a set of tools that help PI's and Evaluators use a backward design process to reconfigure both their PD activities and the assessments they will use. We emphasize using Formative Assessment techniques coupled with the SOLO taxonomy to assist you in making high-quality, well-documented, and evidence-based claims about your PD’s impact on student learning.

Ongoing usability testing of these tools and techniques is being undertaken by students in a Master of Evaluation course at the University of Melbourne. We are currently collaborating with Weld-Ed (DUE 1400351) on designing an assessment approach for a welding metallurgy module. 

Does It All Work? Conducting Efficacy Research

At the heart of our research is the following question: "What factors contribute to the successful implementation of formative assessment to report professional development outcomes?"

Like many centers and projects, COVID has forced us to alter our original plans. 

We have responded by developing a case study approach to explore what makes for successful implementation of formative assessment and reporting of student outcomes.

Though still in the preliminary stages, our success case study of the CCSF-UCSF: A Collaborative Approach to Work-Based Learning project (DUE 1801186, 1800998) will allow us to identify and reflect on the factors impacting the success and effectiveness of implementing formative assessment.

Our hope is that the case study will capture a deeper understanding of factors critical to meeting ATE’s evaluation expectation - using classroom practices to measure changes in students’ learning outcomes and dispositions (NSF18-571) - and generate insights into the barriers that may prohibit PI’s use of formative assessment to capture changes in participants’ learning and program impact.

An Invitation

Contact Robin Datta (PI) or Amy Gullickson (Co-PI) if you are interested in learning more about our project or working with us on designing an assessment approach for your project. 



FAS4ATE2 (2019-2021):

FAS4ATE1 (2013-2016):