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She has published widely on these aspects of assessment in further and adult education. More recently, she has researched and published on the effects of a growing 'therapeutic ethos' in subject content, pedagogy and assessment at all levels of the British education system. She is currently directing an ESRC-funded seminar series on 'Changing the subject: interdisciplinary perspectives on emotional well-being and social justice'.

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Formative Assessments: Why, When & Top 5 Examples

Despite good intentions for formative assessment to enhance the quality of students' learning and motivation, it is widely misunderstood. Throughout the education system, it has become little more than a way of coaching students to meet the demands of summative assessment. Drawing on recent research, the book includes six case studies that draw out the implications of the research findings to suggest ways in which teachers might change their assessment practice, despite the pressures in their own contexts.

What impact do political and social factors have on assessment practices? Why do similar assessment practices have different effects in different 'learning cultures'?


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What role does subject knowledge play in educationally-worthwhile formative assessment? By including regular self-assessment activities, while maintaining clear and constant awareness of the desired future state, students chart their progress over time and feel ownership of their own success.

Use descriptive rather than judgmental feedback. By delivering formative assessment results to students as frequent descriptive feedback, instead of judgmental feedback, insights into how to improve are made more emotionally accessible. Open communication between instructors, students and families. Involving students with the feedback and communication regarding their progress and improvement and families of minor children helps students articulate their understanding and own the results of their education.


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Use formative assessments to build student confidence. Confidence in themselves, taking responsibility for their own learning, and laying a foundation for lifelong learning is built as formative assessment results are gathered and shared consistently with students.

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The desired outcome or goal. This is the intended future state that includes mastery of the skills or content being taught. And finally, some idea of how to close the gap, to make headway toward achieving the goal. All three of these details need to be understood before action can be taken to improve the learning.

They cannot assess let alone teach achievement that has not been defined. Remember that progress toward the future state is the intent. Is the future state clear to both teachers and students? Has the instructor provided any exemplars to model what success achieving the objective looks like?

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Transforming Formative Assessment in Lifelong Learning

Stiggins , Essential for maximizing the learning of this type of assessment is providing students with information about particular qualities of their work and about what they can do to improve. Absent a clear understanding of current and future states and the necessary steps to get from here to there, Black and Wiliam say,. Many become disruptive; others resort to truancy.

Such young people are likely to be alienated from society and to become the sources and the victims of serious social problems… Pupils who encounter difficulties are led to believe that they lack ability, and this belief leads them to attribute their difficulties to a defect in themselves about which they cannot do a great deal. Once current and future states are known by teachers and learners alike, then appropriate strategies can be chosen to support students achieving the goal.

Hall , Ideally sharing of future state goals is accompanied by examples of student work displaying the full range of quality. Quality should be taught one facet at a time and students should be taught and encouraged to focus on improving one facet at a time. The process of instructors responding to the current state of students with input designed to help them improve is called formative feedback. Hall , According to Pelligreno, et al. Practice and feedback are critical aspects of the development of skill and expertise.

One of the most important roles for assessment is the provision of timely and informative feedback to students during instruction and learning so that their practice of a skill and its subsequent acquisition will be effective and efficient. Classroom discussions are a key part of formative assessment.

It becomes essential for educators to establish patterns for communicating feedback to students. The more communication happens between teachers and learners, the deeper the understanding, and the greater the opportunities for students to discuss their thinking. One-on-one student interviews can help teachers divine student progress. Interviews can be particularly helpful in identifying misconceptions early on.

Fennel , With practice occurring outside of class, in-person feedback can be difficult to deliver.


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The use of software like GoReact that is designed to create a platform for feedback over the Internet and asynchronously can overcome some of the insufficiencies of old methods. A benefit of asynchronicity is that students can be more contemplative in forming their responses as well as allowing each student to respond to questions individually without being preempted by their peers such as in a class discussion. Interestingly, formative feedback delivers to students the tools they need to assess how they are doing on their way toward the established learning goals.

Hall , This means that the ultimate user of assessment is actually the student. Students can perform self-assessment using tools like GoReact. Not all assessment of student progress comes from teachers. Some feedback is available from peers and even the students themselves through self-assessment. Current state awareness and evaluation independently by students can be highly valuable.

Transforming formative assessment in lifelong learning

This feedback builds progressively over time and thus helps students continue to believe that success is within reach if they keep trying. Pellegreno, et al. Formative assessment has been enhanced in students as young as five years old by incorporating self- and peer-assessment. This underscores the inevitability of the link between formative assessment and self-assessment. If self-assessment is, therefore, so important, then it stands to reason that students need training in it. They need instructions about how to assess themselves so that they can independently understand the desired future state and fathom what they need to do to get there.

Is formative assessment part of the education of the next generation of teachers? Is formative assessment being modeled by supervisors and field experience coordinators in teacher ed programs? As preservice teachers come to understand the nature of the achievement targets their students need to master, so too must they learn how to use classroom assessment to track progress.

Whether to Use Formative Assessment

This can be accomplished with sound coursework, but it would be even better if professors in teacher education courses would model sound assessment for learning practices. Teacher education programs committed to formative assessment often turn to technology solutions like GoReact to institutionalize these assessment practices and deliver the best-qualified teacher candidates.