Types of Formative Assessment

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Educators use formative assessments to monitor and update classroom instruction, and these types of assessments are not used in the grade point average of the student. Types of formative assessment include informal observation, worksheets, pop quizzes, journals and diagnostic tests that enable the teacher to assess how students are performing and how well the particular lesson plan is working. In fact, some teachers like to use formative evaluation as a prompt to design courses of instruction.

1 Observation

One form of formative assessment is observing the students as they work on a specific project. The teacher roams around the classroom, occasionally offering guidance and encouragement as the students work. The observation works well when the teacher wishes to monitor how students work together in groups or individually. She takes notes on how students are performing and also whether or not modifications need to be made to the assignment.

2 Worksheets

Teachers may use worksheets as formative assessments. These can be classwork or given out as homework. This work will not be included in the student's official grade average but rather used as a means to gauge how well the student understands the material being covered. The teacher may find that the work is too easy for the students or that they are not comprehending the information well enough. Using this information, he can then make modifications as needed.

3 Pop Quizzes

Often teachers use pop quizzes to gauge student comprehension. Again, these quizzes are not graded. One method of a formative assessment in quiz form is to use an overhead projector to run through questions regarding the lesson and have the class answer as a whole. This form of assessment works well when reviewing for a summative test. Teachers can also give individual quizzes to students or have groups of students complete a quiz.

4 Journals

One effective means of formative assessment is the journal. Students are required to periodically write their thoughts and feelings about how they are progressing in the class. They can also tell what they liked or didn't like about a particular assignment. This information gives the teacher a quick look at how effective a certain lesson plan was. If the majority of the class journals that they had a difficult time with a particular lesson, then the teacher knows he needs to make changes to that lesson.

5 Diagnostic Tests

Generally used toward the beginning of the class term, diagnostic tests are a type of formative assessment that allows the teacher and administration to determine the proper level of instruction for students. Diagnostics can be used in almost any subject to assess the level of proficiency, comprehension and mastery of information. It is helpful to inform the students that this is a diagnostic tool that will not be graded but will be used to help them see their strong and weak areas in a subject. Informing the students reduces test anxiety and produces more accurate diagnostic results.

Karen Silvestri is an English professor at Palm Beach State College in Lake Worth, Fla., and has been writing professionally since 1997. She also leads workshops on memoir writing, journaling, creative writing and poetry in her community and online. Silvestri holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, and studied business and education at the graduate level.