1: Formative Assessment- What is it & why use it?

Revision as of 00:30, 12 May 2012 by Nicole Gallo (talk | contribs)

You have already 'identified the problem,' step one of the design process, by selecting to take this course. You may feel as though there is more you can do to use and provide learners with feedback throughout instruction, to better accommodate their needs in a timely manner, which will result in student success. However, there lacks clarity in the definition of formative assessment and what the benefits are for both the students and the teacher.

In this unit, a definition of formative assessment will be established and the benefits will be identified. At the conclusion of this unit, the learner will begin to address steps 2 & 3 of the design process, which are 'identifying constraints and brainstorming possible solutions, respectively.

What is formative assessment?

"Formative assessment, on the other hand, delivers information during the instructional process, before the summative assessment. Both the teacher and the student use formative assessment results to make decisions about what actions to take to promote further learning. It is an ongoing, dynamic process that involves more than frequent testing, and measurement of student learning is just one of its components."[1]


To put it in simpler terms:

"Formative assessment is a systematic process to continuously gather evidence about learning. The data are used to identify a student's current level of learning and adapt lessons to help the student reach the desired learning goal."[2]

According to [3] formative assessment is frequently referred to as "assessment for learning."

What are the benefits of formative assessment?

  • Teachers can adapt instruction on the basis of evidence (formative assessment), adjusting instruction to assist students to reach established goals
  • Students can use evidence (feedback) of their current progress to actively manage and guide their own learning
  • Clear learning objectives allow students to see the purpose of activities and to see where they are headed
  • Through formative assessment, students can be provided timely feedback that will allow them to adjust their
  • Formative assessment can take many different forms


What are the identified needs of teachers regarding formative assessment?

"To many of today's teachers, assessment is synonymous with high-stakes standardized tests. But there is an entirely different kind of assessment that can actually transform both teaching and learning."[2]

Assessment is often tied with a 'numerical' grade and never referenced again, especially by the students. How many of us have seen students receive the typical feedback such as a quiz, homework, or anything graded and then toss it immediately, perhaps not so hopefully, into the recycling bin? Testing is a common discussion among teachers of all disciplines whether it is with regard to how often we are assessing, the validity of the assessment or standards, or what we are learning from the assessment results. Assessment, however doesn't have to come with a price-tag for the student or the teacher; this is where formative assessment can be a useful instructional classroom tool.

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