Formative Assessment: The Definition Of Formative Assessment

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Formative assessment refers to a wide variety of methods that teachers use to conduct in-process evaluations of student comprehension, learning needs, and academic progress during a lesson, unit, or course. Brown (2004) defines formative assessment as “evaluating students in the process of “forming” their competencies and skills with the goal of helping them to continue that growth process”. Cowie and Bell, (1999) adopt a narrower definition of formative assessment by using the definition “the process used by teachers and students to recognize and respond to student learning in order to enhance that learning, during the learning”. This definition requires formative assessment to take place during learning. That is, focusing the unplanned an…show more content…
Also, formative assessments give our students evidence of their current progress to actively manage and adjust their own learning. This also provides our students the ability to track their educational goals. In addition, formative assessments give us the ability to provide constant feedback to our students. This allows our students to be part of the learning environment and to develop self-assessment strategies that will help with the understanding of their own thought process. Remarkably, Black and Wiliam (1998) conducted an extensive research study involving over 250 studies to ascertain whether or not formative assessment could be shown to raise levels of attainment in the classroom. Although a large number of studies were selected initially by Black and Wiliam, they rejected many through lack of rigor and decided to take account of only those where a control group had been set up. They concluded that efforts to strengthen formative assessment produce significant learning gains as measured by comparing the average improvement in the test scores of the students involved in the innovation with a range of scores found for typical groups of students on the same…show more content…
The teacher in a classroom that uses formative assessment must give up some control and encourage students to participate in developing learning goals and outcomes. In addition, they stress that there is a need for teachers to pay close attention to the nature, contextualization, and timing of formative assessments. If implemented incorrectly, they can have negative outcomes. The authors make several suggestions for effective implementation of formative assessments:
1. Formative assessments should not include too many recall/rote activities.
2. Teachers involved in formative assessment models should not emphasize grading over learning.
3. In the formative assessment model, there should be more of a cooperative and less of a competitive classroom atmosphere.
4. Teachers must make sure to focus on quality rather than quantity.
5. To be truly helpful to students, feedback in the formative assessment model should be focused on the task, not the student, and the student must understand the feedback so as to make use of

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