7 Ways to Do Formative Assessment

11 March 2024
Formative Assessment

Assessing student learning is essential to measure their progress and determine whether or not they have gained a proper understanding of concepts. Examinations have been instrumental as they provide a tangible insight into student learning outcomes.

There are different kinds of examinations, such as summative, diagnostic, ipsative, norm-referenced, and formative assessment. All of them are important, but formative tests are especially vital for evaluating students’s ongoing comprehension levels.

What are formative assessments?

Is there a way to determine a student’s understanding capability? Is there a way to evaluate their prior and current knowledge during the ongoing learning process? The answer to both questions lies in formative assessments, which help to monitor students’s ongoing progress.

Besides, it relates to different learning tasks and corresponding methods of evaluating them, catering to varied learning needs. Moreover, these are not high-stakes exams but rather a part of regular and e-learning classroom sessions.

Hence, students don’t feel the exam anxiety and get an opportunity to self-evaluate their learning. Formative assessments are simple tests that teachers can deploy easily in the classroom without elaborate preparations.

Some of the most useful formative assessments are as follows:

Formative Assessment

1. Entry and Exit Slips

Testing prior or previous knowledge sets the prerequisites for developing a better understanding of particular topics and subjects. You can conduct an exercise at the beginning of the class and toward the end of a classroom session.

For instance, you can ask quick questions regarding the previous day’s work by writing or projecting them on the board. Furthermore, you can opt for different methods, such as traditional pencil-and-paper or digitalized forms.

Regardless of the tools, the questions you ask have far more significance; hence, ensure to highlight the following:

  • What was the most interesting thing that you learned today?
  • What were some of the topics that you found difficult to understand?
  • The lesson was hard today because...

Additionally, you can ask students to recall what they have learned and write about it for a minute or two. It does not necessarily have to be verbatim; instead, it must reflect the student’s understanding.

2. Prompt Quizzes

Pop quizzes or sudden quizzes are things of despair for students because no one wants to stand awkwardly and be unable to answer questions. Nevertheless, quizzes are the most effective way to determine their knowledge levels.

However, it is imperative that teachers don’t put too much pressure on the activity and implement it as a part of the regular classes. In the case of younger students, select questions related to the ongoing topics.

On the other hand, asking higher-level questions is appropriate for older students, such as:

  • What is a suitable strategy to tackle the problem discussed in the previous class?
  • What is the most practical methodology that experts have suggested to tackle global warming?

Such questions require students to think critically, allowing them to recall relevant information and add their perspectives to the answers.

3. Question & Answer Sessions

Hesitation and embarrassment prevent students from participating in Q&A sessions, yet they boost student engagement. Therefore, while conducting such an activity, you must remember a few factors, including creating an inclusive and non-judgmental environment.

Firstly, asking questions to only those who have raised their hands while ignoring the rest is an unproductive practice. On the contrary, encouraging everyone to participate is an effective process.

Asking one student to comment on another’s answer is a good strategy to stimulate an exchange of different perspectives. It does not take long for the question-and-answer session to progress into a discussion session.

Also, implementing inquiry-based learning activities is a unique approach that teachers can integrate into the session. In fact, that is where you can ask open-ended questions, allowing learners to utilize their analytical abilities.

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4. Peer Feedback

There are more unique and effective ways of sending feedback to students than exam results. For example, since the emphasis on online and hybrid learning has increased, the online assessment system has become indispensable.

The software allows teachers to create and conduct assessments with different kinds of descriptive and qualitative questions. At the same time, they can provide real-time feedback to all students, highlighting their weak and strong areas.

Similarly, you can conduct peer feedback, wherein students review and evaluate each other’s work and assignments. The content, structure, language, and overall presentation are the focus of the activity.

After a thorough evaluation of the work, students provide feedback as per the set criteria in oral, written, or online format. They work in teams or groups of two or four and observe, question, and discuss each other’s experiences and methods.

5. Think-Pair-Share

One of the prominent goals of education is to teach students social skills, and you can accomplish that through collaborative learning. However, setting a few ground rules in the beginning is necessary, such as giving group members an equal chance to participate.

Three steps go into implementing the think-pair-share activity, which are as follows:

  • Think: All students think individually about a problem or topic that the teacher asks.
  • Pair: The teacher divides the class into pairs of two, and each of them has a discussion on the topic.
  • Share: Students share their answers and thoughts with the rest of the class.

Think-pair-share is a simple formative assessment activity that allows students to participate in brainstorming sessions. They invest time and effort to research and discuss solutions to real-world problems.

Additionally, it fosters communication skills, social-emotional learning, analytical capabilities, creative thinking skills, etc. Also, some of the questions that you can incorporate into this activity include:

  • What are the main drawbacks of the action plan?
  • List out the main advantages and limitations of the concept.

6. Self-Assessment

"No one assesses one’s learning better than themselves" —a quote that has proven to be true in the context of self-directed learning. Besides, students can succeed only when they have acquired sufficient knowledge and skills.

But how can they determine whether or not they have progressed? Self-assessment is key to gaining insight into their academic and overall development. You can help students by providing them with valuable suggestions. For example, some of the self-assessment exercises are as follows:

  • Self-Check: Students can use a rubric, checklist, or answer key to check the accuracy of their work. Consequently, it helps them identify repetitive errors, shortcomings, and learning gaps. In the next step, they set goals and objectives to reduce errors and overcome their shortcomings.
  • Self-Reflection: They can use specific questions and prompts to assess their performance (assignments, tests, etc.). Also, they can use journaling as a way to express their thoughts and doubts about the learning process. Furthermore, they can point out the things they have learned, issues, and challenges.
  • Self-monitoring: Monitoring one’s progress through performance, assignments, and assessments is imperative for all students. They can use the student portal of the ERP software to track their progress. In addition, they can adjust their strategies and goals accordingly.

7. Interview Assessments

What if you wanted to gain deeper insight into the student’s understanding? When class tests and group assignments fail to provide sufficient information on specific students, conduct interview assessments.

Interview assessments are one-on-one sessions that you can conduct with all students or those who are struggling the most. Moreover, you can schedule them in an offline or online format.

It is a perfect strategy to have honest and open communication with introverted students who have been facing major issues. Also, you can provide practical suggestions and implement suitable action plans to meet their learning gaps.

Conclusion ,

Measuring student learning and progress is not an easy task, especially when teachers must cater to varying learning requirements. That is where formative assessments play an integral role in tracking the ongoing progress of students.

Teachers can incorporate traditional pen-and-paper tests and online assessments with the help of an online assessment system. They can implement different kinds of tests and activities, allowing teachers to track their knowledge and understanding levels.

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Prashant Borkar Author:

Prashant Borkar,

Academic Consultant

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