Unit 2- Examples, Cases and Reflection of Current Practice


Unit 2- Examples, Cases and Reflection of Current Practice


Upon completion of this unit the student will:

  • Review examples of formative assessment
  • Analyze current assessment strategy related to a given lesson
  • Reflect on current assessment practice using an existing lesson of choice

Examples of Formative Assessment

It is common practice in education to have students fill out worksheets. It is deduced if a student answers the questions correctly, the information is understood and knowledge is possessed. Closer inspection and additional questioning of students who score perfectly on a worksheet may reveal that they are missing understanding. They may be able to answer questions correctly but may not know how items relate to each other in a matching exercise or may not know how to transfer some knowledge to a related topic on the same worksheet.

Carol Boston provides some good examples of formative assessment in an online article called The Concept of Formative Assessment. One of the best ways to illustrate formative assessment is through the use of questioning- either in a group setting or an individual one. Questions should be open ended to encourage a thoughtful answer and students need time to respond. These activities can all be ungraded. Here are the examples she provides with some additional comments to ensure feedback is part of the process:

  • "Invite students to discuss their thinking about a question or topic in pairs or small groups, then ask a representative to share the thinking with the larger group (sometimes called think-pair-share)". Be sure to ask probing questions when necessary to the group to draw out more information or clarify a misconception.
  • "Present several possible answers to a question, then ask students to vote on them". Lead a discussion on the correct answer and also discuss the other answers and why they are not correct.
  • "Ask all students to write down an answer, then read a selected few out loud". This will allow you to ask questions about that answer to the class and also clear up any misunderstanding.
  • "Have students write their understanding of vocabulary or concepts before and after instruction". You can respond to each student in writing after instruction based on their responses. Provide time for them to make corrections and review material if necessary.
  • "Ask students to summarize the main ideas they've taken away from a lecture, discussion, or assigned reading". Be sure to respond to each student and provide feedback on their summaries.
  • "Have students complete a few problems or questions at the end of instruction and check answers". This can be in class, in small groups, or for homework. You can discuss or respond to each student with additional questions for them to answer.
  • "Interview students individually or in groups about their thinking as they solve problems". This makes a nice one on one discussion. You can move around the class while they are working.
  • "Assign brief, in-class writing assignments (e.g., "Why is this person or event representative of this time period in history?)". This is a great activity that will show you the student's level of understanding. You can collect the papers and write specific comments to each student and hand them back. Allow students the opportunity to revise their writing assignments.

If we look at some of the examples above, they seem obvious enough but more is needed. What is equally important is what you do with the answers received. If a student provides you a writing assignment that misses the mark, as a teacher, you should provide meaningful feedback to that student in a way that allows the student to correct his or her mistake or miconception and resubmit the work. This allows the student to "close the gap" that was discussed in Unit 1. Providing vague remarks will not help the student to correct the learning. A remark such as "incorrect" or giving a red slash through answers that are wrong will not help the student understand what is missing. Most of the above activities are not intended to be graded but are meant as a check of understanding. Additionally, asking probing questions provides an opportunity for more reflection and thought. A student may not know how things relate or consider other options or scenarios for a given topic. Asking more questions pushes the student to think more about what is being learned.

Formative assessment activities can also involve long term projects that are completed in stages accompanied by a rubric. As students complete various stages, they can submit their work for feedback and correction before the final project is due and turned in. This allows the student to feel more in charge of their learning if they are allowed to correct any mistakes before a grade is assigned. In some cases, main course objectives can suggest a cumulative course project that can be incorporated. A review of course and lesson objectives may point clearly to a method of assessment.

Additional examples of formative assessment can include:

  • Brainstorming sessions with students combined with discussion including probing questions.
  • Initial questions asked when introducing a topic to assess students current understanding. You can ask these same questions again after teaching this topic to ensure students learned the material you intended and can answer questions related to it.
  • Peer review of written assignments.
  • Have students write a reflection journal and actively participate by responding to each student by asking probing questions for students to answer and reflect on. This can be a continually flowing journal with communication back and forth throughout the class.
  • Discuss case studies or real world scenarios. Be sure to probe the students further based on their responses and to clear up any misconceptions.
  • Bring in a guest speaker for students to interview or use video conferencing. Students can work on crafting questions before hand. You can tie this to a lesson or theme and guide the students if necessary in crafting the questions. Students should also write a follow up paper on the speaker's responses.

Case Study

Let's review 2 different case studies based on a lesson plan for a particular topic.

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Case Study

Unit Conclusion

In this unit we looked at many examples of formative assessment. One of the key elements is the use of feedback and how you frame that for a student. We also looked at two case studies showing different lesson plans and thought about the formative elements present and how they could be changed to incorporate more formative elements.


Thought balloon.jpgNow that we have completed this unit, we will take some time to reflect on current practice. Please retreive a lesson plan that you currently use. As you review your lesson plan, answer the following questions.

  • Am I using enough formative assessment and feedback in my lesson?
  • What changes can I make to provide more feedback to my students?
  • How can I gain more understanding of where my students are in their learning?


Boston, Carol (2002). The concept of formative assessment. Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation, 8(9). Retrieved May 5, 2008 from http://PAREonline.net/getvn.asp?v=8&n=9 .

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Unit 3- Design a Formative Assessment Plan

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Utilizing Formative Assessments

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Unit 1- What Is Formative Assessment?