2: What does it look like?


Objective: Identify various types of formative assessment as illustrated through authentic examples.

In this phase, the learner should develop a clearer picture as to the criteria and characteristics that compose and define formative assessment. Below are some authentic examples that demonstrate a variety of instances where formative assessment allowed for more learner-teacher knowledge.

Characteristics of Formative Assessment:

  • has clear and transparent learning objectives
  • offers opportunities for high quality assessment
  • provides timely and understandable feedback
  • is a frequent occurrence during instruction, not only an end of unit assessment tool
  • requires student to be both active and reflective
  • follows a learning progression building on prior knowledge (aperceptive basis)
  • helps to identify a gap in learning or understanding
  • offers data on how to adjust instruction to assist student to learn within their zone of proximal development.

Authentic Applications

Learning Context: These examples were implemented in a project-based learning (PBL)mathematics classroom. The students are chosen by lottery from thirty-nine different districts across the NYS Capital Region. It is a small school and a single grade can contain approximate 30-40 students, whose abilities and socio-economic backgrounds vary greatly. Block scheduling permits for approximately 87 minutes of instruction every other day, this in addition to collaborative project work time. Depending on the content, the instruction was presented to either a ninth grade geometry class, which is integrated with English Language Arts (ELA), or an eleventh grade algebra II/trigonometry course. The curriculum is delivered using a PBL approach, and as a result students are presented with a project or problem, which they are to propose a solution for. The students receive an entry event or document and a project rubric; just as you have in this project.

Scaffolding/Benchmarking Example

Description: Throughout the project there are certain 'benchmarks' that the students need to meet in order to progress throughout the project. The benchmark is directly related to a component or task that will help students to complete the product. The purpose of this is so that students can receive feedback on their progress and understanding, encouraging standards-based assessment. Benchmarks can be evaluated in a variety of ways, either formally to informally.


Project task: Mini-golf business wants proposals for a new mini-golf course hole design to increase engagement and interest of the business patrons.
Learning objectives:
  1. Use the law of incidence and properties of reflection to determine a hole-in-one path for the course.
  2. Explore the relationships of 'rate of change' between parallel and perpendicular lines, including the slopes of horizontal and vertical lines.
Product: a 2-dimensional, bird's eye view of a mini-golf hole design
Implications on instruction:

Entrance & Exit Slips Example

Project task:
Learning objectives:
Implications on instruction:

Teacher Responsibilities

  • Creating a learning community and a learning centered classroom climate.
  • Emphasize the process not the solution.
  • Encourage students to adopt the philosophy "Fail often to succeed sooner"
IDEOis a design consultancy that follows the design process, and emphasizes innovation, failure, and reflection, in order to meet the needs of its global clientele. If student's ever ask you when they are going to use this, explain: "Learning to solve problems (regardless of the context) is one of the most important skills to have in any working environment in today's 21st century environment."

Additional Tools

Check For Understanding

  1. How might quote be motivational to students?
  2. How does this quote encourage formative assessment?

Learning Task: Propose a Solution

  1. View the Project Rubric
  2. Update your K/NTK list. Have you answered any more of your questions? Now that you have read the project rubric, are there any new questions that need to be addressed before you can proceed with your instructional design?
  3. Identify one of the approaches or tools that you would like to pursue in designing your lesson. Provide a description of how you may implement these tools/techniques and how the tools you've chosen will help you to 'solve' your problem. How do these reflect the characteristics of formative assessment? Record your response in detail.