The Office of Faculty Development

Formative Assessment

Formative assessment is the ongoing, both formal and informal, assessment of students’ developing knowledge or skills. That is, the assessment of knowledge or skills as they are being formed. While formative assessment is necessary to determine what students’ learning needs are and to plan for future lessons or interventions, research also shows that formative assessment can be used to provide students with meaningful learning experiences.

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    Examine selected research on formative assessment: 

    Gikandi, J. W., Morrow, D., & Davis, N. E. (2011).Online formative assessment in higher education: A review of the literature. Computers and Education, 57(4), 2333–2351. in new window)

    Cauley, K. M., & McMillan, J. H. (2010). Formative Assessment Techniques to Support Student Motivation and Achievement. The Clearing House, 83(1), 1–6. in new window)

    Wiliam, D. (2011). What is assessment for learning? Studies in Educational Evaluation, 37(1), 3–14. in new window)


    Ready to apply what you have learned about formative assessment to your teaching? Here are some ideas and strategies to get you started:

    1. Identify clear, measurable learning outcomes for your lesson or learning activity.
    2. Identify the instruments and/or strategies that you will use to determine whether students have achieved the outcomes.
    3. Determine how and when you will provide feedback to students on their progress.
    4. Review one of your existing assessments to evaluate its authenticity and revise, if necessary.  (Are students using knowledge or skills that they will use in their future careers, academic fields, lives?)
    5. Review one of your existing assessments to evaluate its effectiveness in centering student voice and/or student active participation and revise, if necessary.  (Are students responsible for completing the majority of the cognitive work?)
    6. Develop an assessment for students to use to self-assess their progress.