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What is formative assessment?

In your reading last week, Bransford makes the point that formative assessment promotes learning. He and his colleagues say

Formative assessments – ongoing assessments designed to make students’ thinking visible to both teachers and students – are essential. They permit the teacher to grasp the students’ preconceptions, understand where the students are in the “developmental corridor” from informal to formal thinking, and design instruction accordingly. In the assessment-centered classroom environment, formative assessments help both teachers and students monitor progress."
(page 24.)

To launch our study of assessment for learning, we begin with the Case of Insulation and challenge you to identify opportunities for assessment. The question we explore is: How can formative assessment help you to (a) find out what your students understand and (b) move their thinking forward?

This week you’ll be introduced to a formative assessment cycle and see that setting explicit learning goals is a critical part of assessment.

Finally, you’ll draw on your teaching experiences to describe and critique a personal case of assessment.

Understanding Goals

  • assessments have multiple purposes and can take multiple forms;
  • assessments can be used to promote learning.

What You need

  • Your teaching journal
  • Teaching, Learning & Assessing Science 5-12, Harlen (Ch 7)

Session Resources