To improve achievement in student learning, teachers must be able to acknowledge when students are not progressing according to standards. A formative assessment is a process of using information to adapt or change teaching and learning in order to meet the learning needs of students. Such information is gathered from a series of formative assessment strategies that require student observations, analyzing students’ assignments and analyzing classroom discussions.
At the beginning of a lesson, teachers must present an outline that explains expectations--behaviors, course materials, topics, test dates and procedures for resolving issues, such as absence from class. The measures of success of success are grades, such as an "A" for scores ranging from 90 percent to 100 percent. A rubric--criteria for assessing work or activities--should be developed to provide guidance for students to achieve the highest scores possible, and samples of assignments are helpful when presenting a rubric.
Check for Understanding
After expectations are acknowledged and understood by all in concern, an issue arises. This issue is important because it relates to the purpose of teaching--understanding. A teacher must be able to determine if students really understand what is being taught. Traditional ways to make this assessment are questions and quizzes; however, based on Lincoln.k12.or.us, here are some formative assessment strategies to check for students' understanding:
Periodically distribute an index card to students and instruct them to write what they understand about the topic on the front of the card. Then ask them to write what they do not understand on the back of the card.
Have students show a "thumb up" when they understand concepts in class or a "thumb down" when they are unsure of concepts.
Propose a question and instruct students to write the answer in a couple of minutes. This is known as "bell work" in k-12 environments but is also useful in higher education.
Periodically incorporate analogies in a lesson to present principles or concepts. For example: (a concept) is like (blank) because (blank).
Present students with misconceptions about concepts or topics and ask if they agree or disagree. Then follow responses with a group discussion.
Conduct one-on-one student conferences. This can be done in class or over the phone, to determine their understanding of concepts presented in class.
Have students assess their own learning, and identify their level of progress. This should be followed by planning what they should learn next, and this type of planning can occur during one-on-one conversation.
Reflect on Teachers' Practices
A formative assessment is used to determine what a student already knows and reveals lack of information, so that teaching and learning can be improved. In turn, teachers must reflect upon their methods used to improve their practices. Teachers should analyze what they know about teaching methods and collaborate with colleagues to determine what formative assessment strategies have proven successful for other teachers. Teachers must also dedicate time to research best strategies through reading, conferences and online sources.
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