Formative Assessment

muddy lady

Something about that word, Assessment, seems to get extreme responses in one direction or another in higher ed.

What I like most about formative assessment is that it can be ‘thrown in’ easily  and often (and should be!) to get a sense of where are students are at with their understanding.  If we waited until the very end of every unit, chapter, set of lessons, etc., we may have lost several students along the way.  Checking in and taking the ‘pulse’ of your learners is an important part of learning and teaching.

In order to get the most out of your formative assessment, whatever method you choice, think about the following:

  • Share the outcomes of the lesson with students before the lesson. I have a Today We Will list that I post and go over at the beginning of each class. Can’t remember where I got this technique but it gets the student “on topic” and provides expectations at the start.
  • Describe to students what the formative assessment will provide. Let them know it’s important to be honest so you can further support them

And of course, there are so many techniques out there!  Choose the ones that work best for you and your students.

Some of my favorites:

  • Muddiest Point (love to share muddy visuals to anchor this concept!)
  • Understanding Check
  • Quick Write
  • Two-Minute Paper
  • Polling
  • Peer Feedback (see Kim’s Impromtu Speech with Peer Review)
  • Think-Pair Share
  • Exit Tickets – have students write comments/questions on a 3×5 card and hand in at end of class
  • Reading Quizzes – I use this as a way to check students’ understanding of the reading material before they come to class so that I see where misconceptions might be and I can better frame our lesson in the classroom, rather then regurgitate the readings.  This is a form of Just-in-Time-Teaching.
  • Concept maps

Some I may try:

More ideas at Teacher Toolkit

Teacher Toolkit checks for understanding

Formative Assessment Resources:

Using Formative Assessment to Evaluate Student Participation

56 Formative Assessment Ideas

A Sampling of Types of Formative Assessment

Formative Assessment: Its Aristotlian Essence

Education Portal Formative Assessments

HotChalk Lesson Plans

West Virgina Department of Education

Berkeley Center for Teaching and Learning Formative Evaluations

One Sentence Summary Video Explanation


Muddiest Point Video Explanation

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