Tuesday, August 16, 2011

What is Formative Assessment?

There is currently a huge focus on formative assessment in schools across Ontario.  Instructional strategies for formative assessment include pretests, observations, feedback, questioning strategies, self and peer assessment, and student record keeping.

Formative assessment can be used to:
  • Enhance Motivation to learn
  • Help students identify gaps in knowledge
  • Foster self-study
  • Clarify desired outcomes
  • Diagnose specific misunderstandings
  • Allow students to make adjustments to what and how they are learning
The Teaching Doctor (2008)
            Formative assessment is important because we, as teachers, need to know how our students are progressing or what they are having difficulties with so that we can adapt our lessons and teaching strategies appropriately (Black & Wiliam, 1998).  We cannot wait for the summative assessment at the end of the unit because by then we will be moving on to a new topic. 

Black and Wiliam, 1998, suggest the following ways of improving formative assessment:
  • Self esteem of pupils (providing feedback, advice)
  • Self and peer assessment by pupils (understanding the main purpose of their learning thereby grasping what they need to do in order to achieve)
  • Evolution of effective teaching (justifiable tasks, discussions, observations, listening)

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