5 Examples of Formative Assessment

We explore five practical and effective methods that educators can use to assess student learning during instruction. Our article highlights the benefits of formative assessment and offers valuable insights into improving the learning experience.

examples of formative assessment

Schools of thought on student learning and the learning process constantly evolve based on experience, data and research. One thing is certain, however: there must be some kind of evaluation in the form of an assessment to check for student learning and adequately identify learning gaps. Classrooms will always have a diverse population of learners. To ensure student understanding on all fronts, there has to be an evaluative process that informs how the educator should proceed with their plans.

Assessments are “the systematic collection, review and use of information about educational programs to improve student learning. Assessments focus on what students know, what they can do, and what values they have when they graduate.” According to pedagogical findings, assessments can be divided into two types: formative and summative.

"Assessments are essential for determining learning outcomes."

What is the difference between formative and summative assessment?

There are some misconceptions concerning formative and summative assessments, so we wanted to clear the air. The major difference between formative and summative assessments is that formative assessments are low-stakes (meaning the impact on their grade overall is small, if not negligible), and summative assessments are considered high-stakes ( the effect on their average is a higher percentage). Formative assessments also focus on one lesson at a time to check for understanding and will generally come directly after the lesson is given. Summative assessments check for cumulative understanding over a longer period of time, such as at the end of a unit, possibly in the form of quizzes, papers or tests.

Related Resource: 10 Ideas for Building a Formative Assessment Toolkit

What are the 7 types of formative assessment?

There are arguably more than seven types of formative assessment due largely to the brilliant creativity of teachers who continue to create and invent ways to engage their students with formative assessment strategies and tools. But we thought we could at least start with seven to get the ball rolling. These suggestions can be used with the whole class, small group, or individual students.

  1. Homework
  2. Reflection papers/journals that are reviewed periodically during the semester
  3. Q&A’s and inspired class discussions: formal or informal
  4. Student/Teacher conferences
  5. In-class activities requiring a presentation of results
  6. Student feedback/self-assessment based on performance and progress
  7. Observations during class activities focusing on retention and engagement

Related Resource: Grading Strategies and Report Card Comments Essentials Kit

"Assessments focus on what students know, what they can do, and what values they have when they graduate."

What are the five examples of formative assessment?

Knowing the types of formative assessments is half the battle, but so many formative assessment ideas are floating out there - how do you know which ones are effective? We’ve compiled a list of five examples to improve your assessment techniques and enhance your students’ learning experience.

  1. Bell Ringers - warm-up activities to check for retention and prior knowledge of previous lesson plans and/or units. It could consist of lightning round questions and/or open-ended questions posed to the whole class or individual students.
  2. Exit Slips / Exit Tickets - closing, quick activities to check for student comprehension at the end of class. It’s a great way to gather student responses, providing students with a clear picture of what they know and need to revisit. Bell ringers and/or exit tickets should be low-stakes concerning the student’s grade.
  3. Think-Pair-Share - a learning process to improve metacognition, collaboration and communication skills where students analyze and synthesize materials independently before pairing up with other classmates and sharing their thoughts and findings.
  4. Socratic Seminar - class discussions that require student preparation that fosters active learning, courteous discussion, thoughtful responses and extensive research. A rubric is often provided before the seminar assignments to establish clear expectations.
  5. Self-Assessment - provides a way for students to engage and evaluate their own learning process by identifying their own strengths and weaknesses. Self-assessments can be handwritten or make use of google forms. This set of 4 self-assessments will help your students reflect on their writing, reading, math, and behavior. They will identify what they are doing well and what they want to improve.

Assessments are essential for determining learning outcomes. Throughout the school year, teachers should use various summative and practical formative assessments to perpetuate learners’ engagement in their own education. 

Related resource: Grading and Assessment Strategies

Looking for more great assessment ideas?

Head over to our Assessment Strategies Hub where you'll find a collection of ideas and forms to make it easier for you to evaluate and grade your students' work, no matter their grade level. 

Sign up for the TeacherVision newsletter to get daily or weekly updates on everything new and coming up in the world of teaching. Create a free TeacherVision account to start downloading your free teaching resources and lesson plans from our huge library of resources and too

About the author

Jenny Vanderberg Shannon


About Jenny

Jenny Vanderberg Shannon is a former education professional with 10+ years of classroom and leadership experience, with a B.A. in English, and an M.A. in Educational… Read more

loading gif