The Benefits Of Formative Assessments In Teaching

Students need to be assessed, to determine if they’re learning what’s being taught. We can all agree on that, but how those assessments are conducted varies wildly. And in an era of standardized testing, many would argue that testing has trumped actual learning… which is why formative assessments will seem like a breath of fresh air to many teachers.

Formative assessments, simply put, are evaluations of students’ learning over time, rather than at the end of a module, class, or course.

There are a number of benefits of incorporating formative assessments into your teaching, including:

Instant Feedback For Teachers
Formative assessments can provide instant feedback for you as a teacher. There’s no need to wait for the next test to determine whether students are grasping the material. With formative assessments, you can find out right away and adjust your teaching on the fly.

More Personalized Learning For Students
Formative assessments can help you instantly see which students are struggling, and you can personalize learning to accommodate them.

Increased Student Engagement
The more students are engaged, the more they learn, and fun, quick formative assessments force them to participate. No student can sit in the back of the classroom and zone out, not if everyone has to answer a question or demonstrate knowledge of a subject.

Collaboration and Cooperation Among Students
By using group formative assessments, you can encourage collaboration and cooperation among students. This type of formative assessment is particularly useful if you have a diverse classroom.

Less Testing And Grading, More Learning With Formative Assessments
Testing and grading rarely correlate exactly with learning and knowledge. Some students test well, but don’t know the subject matter. Other students test poorly, but are knowledgeable. Rather than stressing the importance of a test or a grade – at the end of the day, week, or semester – formative assessments provide a constant stream of informal checkpoints.

Formative Assessments Represent A Paradigm Shift
One of the greatest benefits of formative assessments is that they shift the paradigm in teaching – from focusing on what students don’t know to what they do know. This change can be incredibly empowering for students of all ages. Formative assessments can reinforce that there’s nothing wrong with having to take extra time with something or needing it explained or demonstrated in a different way. That’s part of growing and learning – which is the positive message that formative assessments can send to students. This positivity stands in stark contrast to the message that traditional grading sends to students, when grading (by its very nature) focuses on deficiencies as points are subtracted from the perfect 100 score.

Formative Assessments Are More Fun – For Students and Teachers
Few people think tests are fun – not students, and not teachers. Many students dread taking them, and teachers dread grading them. Formative assessments, on the other hand, can be quick and fun, even interactive. It’s no longer teacher versus student, it’s teacher with students.

Online Professional Development Course On Formative Assessments
If you’d like to learn more about formative assessments and how to implement them in your classroom, we offer an online professional development course for teachers on formative assessments. In this 1-credit online course, you’ll learn best practices for using formative assessments with your students. The online course (which is approved for LAUSD salary points and is available for graduate level credit) covers how to develop and use formative assessments, as well as tools, technology and resources for teachers.

Click here to learn more about our 100% online formative assessments course for teachers.

Click here to learn how to incorporate formative assessments into your teaching.