The Complete Teacher


How formative assessments affect learning

Posted by Hlengiwe Zwane on 21 October 2022, 10:45 SAST
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Formative assessment is a flexible and informal way of assessing a pupil’s progress and understanding of a certain subject matter. It may be recorded in a variety of ways, or may not be recorded at all, except perhaps in lesson planning to address the next steps.

A formative assessment helps students identify their strengths and weaknesses and target areas that need work. It also helps educators and governors recognise where students are struggling and address problems immediately.

Formative assessments are more diagnostic than evaluative. It is used to monitor student learning style and ability, to provide ongoing feedback, and allow educators to improve and adjust their teaching methods and for students to improve their learning.

Most formative assessment strategies are quick to use and fit effortlessly into the instruction process. The information gathered is rarely marked or graded.

Formative assessment examples:

  • Quizzes or anonymous voting.
  • Short comparative assessments to see how students are performing against other learners.
  • One-minute papers on a specific subject matter.
  • Ask students to create a visualization or doodle map of what they learn.

Formative assessments indicate whether teaching plans need to be revised to reinforce or extend learning as the learning journey progresses. As part of formative assessment, students may receive descriptive feedback to let them know if they have mastered an outcome or if they need more practice.

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