Formative Assessment Examples
There are many ways you can formatively assess your students, including through interactive classroom activities. Take a look at some great formative assessment examples you can implement right away in your classroom.
Analyzing homework, in-class work, tests, and quizzes
These work well particularly for in-depth or detailed answers and thought processes. When you take time to do this, you’ll better understand your students’:
- Learning styles, strengths, and weaknesses,
- Knowledge and viewpoints about a topic, and
- How much extra help they might need.
Low or no stake pop-quizzes
Low or no-stake quizzes are a great way to gain insight into how much your students, both individually and as a group, actually know about a topic without having it ride on their grade. When you mark quizzes with low or no points, it tends to motivate students. They feel the quiz matters but that single score can’t impact their final grade much, if at all.
Secret or anonymous polls allow students to respond quickly and is great for those who are shy or have a hard time speaking up.
Brief reports or summaries
These help avoid student failure before it gets to quiz or test time. They answer a question on a certain subject and can be done in groups or individually. Have students write three different summary lengths of 10-15 words, 30-50 words, and 75-100 words, so they get used to brevity and remembering and sharing more detailed information. Your question can focus on a lesson’s main idea, unanswered questions, most surprising takeaway, most confusing concept, or a question that might come up on the next test.
Strategic questioning involves answering higher-order questions that require deep thinking, like those starting with “how” and “why”. This form of questioning can offer a lot of insight into your students’ pain points.
This is a very simple assessment. You begin by asking a question, and students record their responses. You then put them into pairs to discuss their thoughts while you work your way through and listen to each group as they share with each other.
This formative assessment tests your students’ learning in a relevant and meaningful way. They will verbally respond to three prompts, like:
- 3 things I didn’t know before
- 2 things that surprised me about the topic or 2 things I’d still like to know
- 1 thing I want to start doing with what I’ve learned
Entry and exit tickets
Entry and exit tickets are small slips of paper (or messages in the chat, for online classes) that are submitted at the beginning and end of class. The entry ticket at the start of class contains student responses to questions about homework or the previous day’s lesson. For the exit ticket, students write down their interpretation of the lesson’s main idea and some details about it. You can also ask students to record their experience through prompts like:
- How would you have changed things today, if you could go back?
- I found ____ interesting about the work we did today.
- Right now I feel ____ because ____.
- Today was difficult because ____.
When you review the results, you can sort them into three categories: students who understood the point, students who somewhat got the idea, and students who missed the mark. You’ll know where to focus based on your largest group.
Creative or artistic projects
Projects using art or creativity are an excellent way for your students to show their understanding of a full concept. It doesn’t have to be complicated and can take anywhere from an hour to a full day. Students could deliver a presentation, make a collage or poster, record a skit or podcast, create a diorama and narrative, or write flashcards to test one another.
As well, some of your students might be more artistically inclined and would benefit from photography or visual art for their assessments. Things like drawing, collaging, sculpting, photographing, or even acting or dancing can really help tie their learning together.
Highlighting key points
This can effectively assess your students’ understanding of a written resource. In this individual and small-group activity, each student reads the same written passage and highlights sentences that stand out to them as interesting or important. When everyone is finished, divide the class into groups of three or four. In their group, students will share the sentences they highlighted. As they do this, they should be identifying the resource’s main point or idea and share it with the entire class, which will help you understand their general understanding.
Discussion or interview assessment
This type of formative assessment helps you dig deeper into where your students are at. Simply take a few minutes with students about the lessons or assignments you feel they’d benefit from some guidance on. You could also have students use a peer feedback method called TAG: Tell your partner one thing they did well, Ask something thoughtful, Give a positive suggestion. Then, your students can also share the feedback they received from their partner and you’ll have insight into more of your students.
Self-assessment shouldn’t be overlooked, since your students know themselves best and can often point out their own strengths and weaknesses. You can narrow down a few weak areas for the class as a whole, and have each student self-select where they feel they’re struggling the most. You could even use color-coded stickies: green means they’re doing well, yellow means they have some confusion in certain areas, and red means they’re very confused and need help. When your whole class has self-assessed and you see the results visually, you’ll instantly know which are the real problem areas.
Grading each other’s work
When students grade one another’s work, they increase their understanding of a topic or concept. You simply ask a question that has a clear-cut, objective answer that can be explained in 2-3 sentences. Students should stay anonymous and not record their names. When they turn in their responses, randomize them and hand them back for students to mark themselves. As they grade the random submission, their comprehension of the topic will be improved. At the end, check how many answers were correct so you have an idea of where your class is at as a group.
Formative Assessment FAQs
What is formative assessment vs summative assessment?
Formative assessment involves regularly monitoring your students’ learning throughout a process, assignment, or class duration. With this, students are empowered to pinpoint their strengths and weaknesses and focus on where they’re struggling. As a teacher, you can better understand where students need help right away. Summative assessment occurs at the end of a longer-term unit, final exam, semester, or another class milestone. It evaluates what a student has learned and compares their progress to a benchmark, like a grade.
Why should I use formative assessment?
- Is timely and relevant for the task you’re working on.
- Reinforces learning.
- Reduces the effort required of students.
- Gives students more certainty about how they’re doing.
- Improves learning processes and outcomes.
- Helps you improve as a teacher, since you know what’s working and what isn’t and can adjust accordingly.
What are some formative assessment examples?
Here are some examples of individual and group formative assessments:
- Analyzing homework, in-class work, tests, and quizzes
- Low or no stake pop-quizzes
- Anonymous polls
- Brief reports or summaries
- Strategic questioning
- 3–2–1 Countdown
- Entry and exit tickets
- Creative projects
- Highlighting key points
- Discussion or interview assessment
- Grading each other’s work