What Is Formative Assessment


Learning Objectives

By the end of this module you should be able to:

  1. Define formative assessment
  2. Evaluate different types of formative assessment

The Assessment Stigma

Let's begin this mini-course with a quick activity in the form of a word association. What images, feelings, or memories are evoked when you think about the word "ASSESSMENT"?

Would you classify your thoughts on assessment as POSITIVE or NEGATIVE?
Were your first thoughts about an exam and receiving a grade?
Perhaps you had a similar reaction to Spongebob Squarepants seen below:

spongebob takes a test

What is Formative Assessment?

Before we can evaluate formative assessment methods we first need a clear idea of what formative assessment is. Let's explore a few definitions:

"Practice in a classroom is formative to the extent that evidence about student achievement is elicited, interpreted, 
and used by teachers,  learners, or their peers, to make decisions about the next steps in instruction 
that are likely to be better, or better founded, than the  decisions they would have taken in the absence 
of the evidence that was elicited." (Black and William, 2009)
"At the center of all this research is one underlying idea: Formative assessment is a constantly occurring process, a verb,
a series of events in action, not a single tool or a static noun. In order for formative assessment to have an impact on
instruction and  student  learning, teachers must be involved every step of the way and have the flexibility to make decisions
throughout the  assessment  process." (NTCE, 2017)

Essentially, formative assessment is a way for teachers to evaluate individual student achievement "on the fly" and use this data to support students in their learning and improve future lessons.


Continue to Lesson 2: Designing formative assessments using Kahoot right arrow


Return to Introduction left arrow

Jump ahead to Module 3: Analyzing formative assessment results right arrow right arrow


Black, P., & Wiliam, D. (2009). Developing the Theory of Formative Assessment. Educational Assessment, Evaluation And Accountability, 21(1), 5-31.