Formative Assessment in PBL Math


Author: Nicole Gallo

Entry Event


  • Have you ever finished with a unit of instruction, only to realize you 'lost' half your students on lesson one!?
  • Have you witnessed your students furiously copying your every word (pauses, coughs, errors and all), only to discover that they can only regurgitate the information?
  • Do you ever notice that in your practice assessment tends to only occur at the end of a unit of instruction, offering few opportunities to correct conceptual mistakes (such as violating order of operations)?
  • Do you wish to acquire learner feedback more frequently during instruction?

If your answer to any of the above questions are 'YES', then you are ready for the mini-course ahead. Within this course, you will go through the steps of the Design Process, view examples of formative assessment implemented in a math project-based learning environment, and will work to design your own lesson to implement formative assessment opportunities. The course itself will reflect the formative assessment practices it discusses.

Course Objectives

  • Define and explain what formative assessment is and the benefits of using it in the classroom.
  • Identify various types of formative assessment as illustrated through authentic examples
  • Design formative assessment opportunities to enhance learning in an identified instructional area.

Your Task

The goal of each unit is to assist you in the design of formative assessment into a lesson of instruction, which is your product for this project. It is hoped that you will actually implement this lesson and continue to use some of the techniques demonstrated in this lesson to help influence and improve instruction and learning.

  • You will re-design a lesson of instruction to meet the PRODUCT RUBRIC criteria and the course objectives (identified above)
  • You will implement this unit of instruction [if applicable]
  • You will reflect upon this experience identifying how they satisfied or did not satisfy the rubric.

Learning Journal.jpg

Learning Journal: Know/Need to Know

Record what you already know about formative assessment. Now that you have read the introductory materials above, record the questions you would like answered through this course, in other words what you need to know in order to be successful with the identified learning objectives; the focus should be on formative assessment and its use to influence instruction, and/or questions about the product.

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

Phase Objectives: Define and explain what formative assessment is and the benefits of using it in the classroom. Learners will begin designing their product, using the following design process steps: (1) Identify the problem,(2) Identify the criteria that the lesson should be designed to meet, and (3) Conduct Research.

2: What does it look like?

Phase Objectives: Learner will examine some authentic examples of formative assessment techniques that can be used to influence the course of instruction. Here you will continue your product development by utilizing step (4): Examine current solutions of the design Process. After the examination of the examples, the learner should be able to propose a solution to address the problem identified in Phase 1.

3: How do I design with the objectives in mind?

Phase Objectives: The learner will now progress through the final stages of the Design Process: (5) Designing a solution, (6) Refine the Design, and (7) Implementing the solutions. Here is where the learner will synthesis all the previous units and work towards their final product.

4: Reflection & References

Phase Objectives: Now that you've completed the course, what are your post-project next steps? Here are some suggestions, in addition to the resources that were referenced within this course.