What Is Formative Assessment? Examples and Types of Formative Assessment

Formative Assessment

05, Dec 2022

Learning is inconsequential if students do not track their improvement or if there is no medium through which teachers can evaluate their knowledge. Therefore, examinations have been an integral part of the educational system since the earliest times. Besides, when instructors design examinations in a specific way, it helps determine not only subject knowledge but also inherent skills.

So, summative assessments became a significant part of academics, wherein institutes conducted examinations at the end of an instructional unit or a term. Also, these are high-stakes qualifying exams in which students need to score sufficient marks. However, a lack of adequate preparation and timely intervention by the teachers causes them to lose focus and perform poorly in their tests.

Meanwhile, the formative assessment allows teachers to assess students’ understanding of the core subject topics or lessons during the instructional process. The ongoing assessment technique helps to identify if the learners could comprehend or face difficulties during the class.

What is Formative Assessment?

Formative assessment is a continuous evaluation technique that teachers use during a particular lesson to check individual students' understanding. Furthermore, they implement easy approaches, including a series of questions or quizzes to keep track of learners’ progress throughout the learning process.

It is noteworthy to mention that all students do not have the same understanding level; hence they fail to keep up with the pace of the rest of the class. In addition, they might not have the confidence to ask questions and clear their doubts. So, when doubts and uncertainties continue without resolution, it leads to flawed and ineffective learning.

Formative Assessment System

Fortunately, formative assessment provides a convenient mechanism for teachers to recognize the key areas where students struggle and contribute to microlearning. Also, they don’t need to wait till the end of the term or course to figure out the primary issues; learning and evaluation occur simultaneously.

How to Differentiate Between Summative and Formative Assessment?

Summative assessments usually occur towards the end of the course or in the middle of a term; institutes and teachers conduct them by following a specific standard or benchmark. Moreover, they use it to assess student learning and academic achievement at the end of a project, course, unit, program, semester, or school year.

Formative assessment is an ongoing evaluation approach that teachers employ during lesson delivery. Additionally, these assessments aim to monitor the student's progress and help students identify individual strengths and weaknesses.

So, formative and summative assessments differ in their approach and objectives, as the former focuses more on continuous evaluation and the latter on the term’s end.

Examples and Types of Formative Assessments

Unlike summative assessments, which have a specific standard that teachers need to follow, formative assessments are flexible in their approach. Therefore, teachers can take the liberty of developing different questions to implement during the in-class sessions.

Type of Formative Assessment System

1. Impromptu Quizzes

Quizzes are typically a part of inter-school competitions or co-curricular activities, but faculties can include them as a part of in-class activities. For instance, they can prepare a series of questions to ask students after completing a particular chapter or during the ongoing session. Similarly, they can encourage them to take online quizzes, enabling them to check their knowledge level by themselves.

Impromptu quizzes are a great example of formative assessment that allows students and teachers to assess knowledge quickly.

2. Pre-class Open-ended Questions

How can teachers analyze students’ existing understanding of a particular topic or concept? One of the best ways to gauge students' existing knowledge is by asking open-ended questions before starting a new topic. Besides, it will allow learners to recollect their thoughts and construct their answers accordingly.

However, the questions or the student responses do not need to be necessarily detailed; they can be simple questions, including:

  • What is the most difficult aspect of this topic?
  • Is there anything important you remember about that concept?

3. End of Class Questionnaires

After taking an hour-long class, including a lecture, and in-depth discussion of a particular topic, it is imperative to check students’ understanding of the delivered lesson. And that is where teachers can employ surveys to get a clear picture; end-of-the-class questionnaires help perform an accurate evaluation.

Moreover, they can include direct questions asking if they understand the overall concept and if they can comprehend the lesson's objective. Also, the questionnaires should consist of short questions, encouraging brief responses indicating if they found the class informative or complex.

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4. Word Clouds

Word clouds are among the different types of formative assessments that require students to create a non-linear image using words. Moreover, it is a unique approach that requires students to give short, concise, and one-word responses to specific questions. Additionally, it encourages them to think carefully before submitting their responses and allows teachers to glance at varying knowledge levels quickly.

For instance, if teachers ask what some of the crucial factors of the Vietnam War are, students can prepare a word cloud containing words that, according to them, contributed to the war. Individual responses will give a dynamic visual into students’ understanding levels and knowledge retention capabilities.

5. Tag Feedback

Tag feedback is a distinctive type of formative assessment that relies on a peer feedback mechanism wherein students evaluate each other’s performance and provide feedback. It is a useful technique that allows learners to assess their classmates and gain insight into their individual understanding of the course materials or topics.

At the same time, it is a unique way to engage students in the class, helping them to keep track of the learning outcomes. But first, teachers must establish guidelines to help them navigate the feedback system. For instance, they can ask students to highlight the strengths of their peers and provide suggestions to improve their in-class performance, etc.

6. Discussion Panels

Discussions and debates have been a part of in-class activities solely to engage learners and increase participation. But teachers can use it to gauge students' ability to voice their opinions and their capability to express themselves amidst diverse perspectives. Plus, when teachers employ such dynamic activities, it helps to create an active learning environment.

Why are Formative Assessments Beneficial?

  • Formative assessments are an effective technique that helps to evaluate the student's progress in real-time and the teaching method’s effectiveness.
  • It helps provide clear and precise feedback that teachers can use to implement a helpful action plan.
  • The feedback helps teachers understand the recurring student problems.
  • Teachers can store the data provided by the assessments in the student management system and prepare personalized plans to enhance students' development.

In conclusion

Formative assessments provide a platform for teachers to continuously analyze how far the students have progressed. Besides, they can use the assessment technique during or at the end of a lesson, helping them monitor students’ understanding levels. On the other hand, students can easily keep track of their performance and identify their weak areas.

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Posted By:
Prashant Borkar

Prashant Borkar,

Academic Consultant

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