SIP 2.7 Formative Assessment

Thirsty for Strong Instructional Practice?

Photo of three college students talking with a professor about something on a paper, presumably an assignmentFormative assessments are formal or informal feedback tools to learn what your students have or have not learned in class. They are quick and detailed feedback to let the students know how they are doing and to let the teacher know when to re-teach or to move on with a lesson. Formative assessments, when used well, have a powerful impact on student learning, motivation, and achievement. It can be ungraded, graded, or graded for completion and must be timely so students can use the feedback to improve.

Some questions to ask yourself are:

  • How are students progressing towards learning goals?
  • How are the formative assessments connected to the final, summative assessment?
  • How will feedback be provided?
  • How will feedback be used?
  • Who will be providing feedback?
  • How can students possibly use the assessment to reflect and to make adjustments to their learning?
  • How can the formative assessment be used to inform and improve my instructional practices? (What do I need to teach? What might I have to re-teach? Where are the gaps in student learning? How might I improve our instruction?)

Take a SIP of This: Implementing Formative Assessments

  1. Formative assessments can be used before instruction: What do students already know? They help the instructor plan for instruction. One example is Polling Students: Quickly gauge if students have heard of a topic before by asking them. You can do this through using cell phones by using Poll Everywhere for text message polling. Or look for options that can be used on multiple platforms such as as Socrative.
  2. Formative assessments can be used during instruction: They help instructors and students Identify progress; teachers make adjustments to instruction; students’ alter learning tactics. One example is the Four Corners Activity: In four corners, you ask a question and students move to a labeled corner of the room in response. Once students are in their corner, you can either use it to get a sense of the class’s understanding, or have the students stay in their corners for further discussion.
  3. Formative assessments can be used after instruction: They help instructors and students reflect on the process of teaching and learning. One example is an Exit Ticket: Exit Tickets are a great way to assess student learning. Students hand you a “ticket,” which could be an answer to a question or a more complicated set of problems to complete. You quickly scan these to see if the students understood your objective of the class period. Descriptive feedback is most effective: Be clear, be specific, consider your tone.

Still Thirsty? Take Another SIP of Formative Assessment

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