Traditional student assessment usually takes the form of a broader quiz, pop quiz, or final exam. But as many teachers will tell you, they rarely tell the whole story or determine exactly how well a student has learned a concept or lesson.
For this reason, many teachers use formative assessments. While formative assessment is not necessarily a new tool, it is becoming increasingly popular among K-12 educators at all levels of expertise.
Curious? Read on to learn about the types of formative assessment and where to access additional resources to help you incorporate this new style of assessment into your classroom.
What is Formative Assessment?
Online educational glossary EdGlossarydefines formative assessmentas "a variety of methods teachers use to continuously assess students' understanding, learning needs, and academic progress throughout a lesson, unit, or course." They continue, “Formative assessments help teachers identify concepts that students are struggling to understand, skills that they are struggling to acquire, or standards of learning that they have not yet achieved, so that adjustments can be made to teaching, teaching methods, and can be made in academic support.
The main reason educators use formative assessment, and its primary purpose, is to measure student understanding during the lesson. Formative assessments allow teachers to gather a lot of information about student understanding as they learn, which in turn allows them to make adjustments and improvements on the spot. And the results speak for themselves -Formative mindshas been shown to be extremely effective in raising student achievement levels, increasing equity in student outcomes, and enhancing student learning abilities, according to a study by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
The other side of the assessment coin is summative assessments, which is what we typically use to assess student learning. Summative assessments are used after a certain period of time, e.g. B. at the end of a unit, a course, a semester or even a school year. As formative assessment and learning expert Paul Black puts it, “If the chef tastes the soup, that is formative assessment. When a customer tastes the soup, that's a summative assessment."
14 examples of formative assessment tools and strategies
There are many types of formative assessment tools and strategies available to teachers, and it is even possible to create your own. However, these are some of the most popular and useful formative assessments in use today.
- Free graphics for everyone
The students are divided into small groups and given a blank board and writing utensils. In these groups, everyone answers an open-ended question about the current lesson. In addition to the question, the students can also enter their relevant knowledge on the topic in the graphic. These charts then rotate from one group to another, with each group adding its entry. After everyone has written on each table, the class regroups and discusses the answers.
- strategic questioning
This formative assessment style is very flexible and can be used in many different situations. You can ask individual, group, or whole class questions with open-ended, high-level questions that start with "why" or "how." These questions serve a dual purpose: to assess students' understanding of the lesson in question and to stimulate discussion of the topic.
- triple summaries
These written summaries of a lesson or topic ask students to write three separate texts of varying lengths: short (10-15 words), medium (30-50 words), and long (75-100 words). These varying lengths test students' ability to summarize or elaborate on everything they have learned in a concise statement. This shows you as a teacher how much they have learned and also identifies learning gaps.
Think-Pair-Share asks students to write down their answers to a teacher's question. When they're done, they split into pairs and share their answers and discuss. You can move around the room, participate in discussions, and get a sense of how students understand.
- Countdown 3-2-1
This formative assessment tool can be written or spoken and asks students to answer three very simple questions: name three things you didn't know before, name two things that surprised you about the topic, and name one thing you want to learn about. Do What You Learn Precise questions are flexible and can be adapted to each unit or lesson you teach.
- classroom research
This is a great engagement tool to use in the middle of a lesson. At any time, you can ask students a poll question and ask them to respond by raising their hand. If you can, you can also use online polling platforms and allow students to submit their responses on their Chromebooks, tablets, or other devices.
- Departure/Entrance tickets
Exit and Entry Cards are quick written exercises that test students' understanding of a one-day course. As the name suggests, exit tickets are short written summaries of what students learned in class that day, while entry tickets can be completed as short assignments that are handed in when students arrive for class.
- one minute documents
This quick and formative assessment tool is most useful at the end of the day to get a complete picture of the learning from that day's lessons. Mark one minute on the clock and ask students a question about the main topic of the day. Typical questions could be:
- What was the main point?
- What questions do you still have?
- What was the most amazing thing you learned?
- What was the most confusing aspect and why?
- Creative expansion projects
These types of reviews are likely already part of your review strategy and include projects such as posters and collages, stage presentations, dioramas, keynotes, and more. Formative assessments like these allow students to use more creative parts of their skills to demonstrate their understanding and can be an opportunity for individual or group work.
- The rod
Named for the quick and easy tool we use to check our car's oil level, dipsticks refer to several formative and quick assessment tools. These are most effective immediately after students have been given feedback and allowed to practice these skills. Many of the tests on this list fall into the test strip categories, howeveradditional optionsThis includes writing a letter explaining the concepts covered, or drawing an outline to represent the topic visually.
- Quiz-like games and polls
Most students enjoy some type of games, and including games that test a student's ability to recall and topics is a great way to make formative assessment more fun. It could be Jeopardy-like games that you can adapt to a specific theme, or even an online platform that uses your own classes. But whichever game you choose, they tend to be a big hit with students.
- Ratings based on interviews
Interview-based assessments are a great way to get first-hand information about students' understanding of a topic. It can be broken down into one-on-one sessions with students or allow them to conduct small-group interviews. These should be quick, informal conversations that cover the main points of the lesson. If you want to add structure to students' conversations, let them tryTag commentsMethod: Tell your partner something they did well, ask a thoughtful question, and make a positive suggestion.
Allow students to use the rubric you use to self-assess their knowledge or understanding of a topic. This not only allows them to reflect on their own work, but also shows very clearly what gaps need to be filled. Self-assessments should also allow students to highlight where they think their strengths lie, so that the feedback isn't entirely negative.
- membership cards
Attendance cards are a great tool to use anywhere in the middle of a class to quickly gauge the entire class's level of understanding. Give each student three participation cards: Agree, Disagree, and I Don't Know, and ask questions that they can use to answer the cards. This will give you a quick idea of which concepts need more coverage.
List of formative assessment resources
There are many, many online formative assessment resources available to teachers. These are just some of the most used and recommended formative review sites available.
Frequently asked questions about formative assessment
The following FAQs were received fromAssociation for supervision and curriculum development(ASCD), a leading professional education organization with more than 100,000 superintendents, principals, teachers and advocates.
Is formative assessment something new?
No and yes. The concept of measuring a student's understanding during class has been around for centuries. However, the concept of formative assessment as we understand it only emerged about 40 years ago and has gradually expanded into what it is today.
What makes something a formative assessment?
ASCDmarked as formative assessmentas "a way for teachers and students to collect evidence of learning, engage students in assessment, and use data to improve teaching and learning". His definition goes further: “when you use an assessment instrument (a test, questionnaire, essay, or any other type of classroom activity) analytically and diagnostically to measure the learning process and to inform yourself or your students. To make progress and guide future learning, take a formative assessment. If you were using the same tool solely to collect data for county or state reporting or to determine a final grade, you would be participating in a summative assessment.”
Does formative assessment work in all content areas?
Absolutely, and it works at all levels of education. Almost any content area—language arts, math, science, humanities, and even arts or physical education—can use formative assessment positively.
How can formative assessment support the curriculum?
Formative assessment supports the curriculum by providing real-time feedback on student knowledge and subject understanding. When teachers regularly use formative assessment tools, they can find gaps in student learning and adjust teaching to fill those gaps. After the semester ends, teachers can use this feedback to revamp their lesson plans.
How can formative assessment be used to prioritize teaching?
Because formative assessment supports curriculum development and updating, it influences instructional priorities. Through student feedback and formative assessment, teachers can collect data on which teaching methods are most (and least) successful. Such "data-driven" teaching should lead to more positive learning outcomes for students.
Can formative assessment close performance gaps?
Formative assessment is ideal as it identifies gaps in students' knowledge as they learn. This allows teachers to make adjustments to fill in these gaps and help students master a new skill or topic more successfully.
How can I help my students understand formative assessment?
Formative assessment should be designed as a learning support tool; it is a very different tactic than summative assessment strategies. To help students understand this new style of assessment, make sure you use it in the classroom from day one. Present a small number of strategies and use them repeatedly to help students become familiar with them. Ultimately, these formative assessments will become second nature for teachers and students alike.
Before embarking on formative assessment or a new teaching strategy, consider taking a continuing education course. At the University of San Diego School of Professional and Continuing Education, we offer more than500 courses for educatorswhich can be completed entirely online and many at your own pace. No matter what your interests, you are sure to find a course or even a certificate that suits your needs.