Formative Assessments in Education and Training
Formative assessments in Education and Training take place throughout the learning process to monitor the student’s understanding during the process of learning. These assessments usually occur frequently, i.e. after every lesson, daily, weekly or monthly to improve student attainment.
A good teacher always ensures that the students understand the concepts and clear any misconceptions. Formative assessments help the teachers to decide whether to reteach an old lesson or move forward to a new one. ‘Teach → Assess → Teach → Assess’ is the way and is prepared along with the lesson plan.
It is beneficial for not only the teachers, but also it helps the students as well to recognise their area of expertise and weakness, which eventually allows the teacher to address the problem immediately and decide whether to move forward or reteach the previous lesson. Also, it highlights the need of improvement in either instructor's way of teaching or the students’ way of learning.
Types of Formative Assessments:
1 to 5 Finger test – Teacher’s ask students to in between the teaching process to raise their hand and show out a finger that represents the following:
- 1 finger – represents the lowest level of understanding (absolutely lost)
- 2 fingers – represents a vague understanding of the concept
- 3 fingers – represents a medium level of understanding
- 4 fingers – represents a good level of understanding
- 5 fingers – represents that the student has achieved mastery of the concept
This is an effective way for the students to demonstrate the level of understanding without causing a disturbance in the class. Also, the instructor can also assess if their way of teaching needs improvement through the level of understanding of the majority. For instance, while explaining a linear equation to the students, the instructor can conduct the finger test after every 3 steps to gauge the level of understanding and pace the lesson accordingly.
Brainstorming – Before starting a lesson, make the students brainstorm about the topic. For instance, when teaching students about the solar system, make them brainstorm about the number of planets, the relationship of the sun and the moon, etc.
Simply answering such questions would eliminate any misunderstanding that may occur later on in the lesson.
Entry and Exit pass – The instructor can begin the lesson by giving an overview of the previous lesson or conduct short fun Kahoot or paper-based quizzes according to the resources available. It can act as a revision of previously taught concepts and clear misunderstandings if there are any.
This is one of many creative ways to keep the students engaged during a lesson. In this, the teacher asks the students to write a summary of the lesson on a piece of paper, which is treated as an exit pass from the class.
The exit pass questions can consist of the following questions:
- Write the 3 most important things you learned today.
- What was the most interesting part of today’s lesson?
- What was the hardest part of today’s lesson?
Think – Pair- Share – This is one way of making students brainstorm about a question. Later, teachers divide the class into pairs and the pair then has to compare their thoughts about the questions and come up with an innovative solution. In the end, every pair comes up in front of the class and shares their thoughts with the students.
This activity allows the students to become welcoming towards new ideas, accepting towards diverse partners and to learn the benefits of working in groups.
Individual whiteboards – This activity requires the teacher to distribute a small whiteboard to all individuals. The teacher then asks questions to which students respond by writing on that whiteboard. This way the teacher can individually assess all the student’s progress and re-teach if they require help.
Dipstick - This method of formative assessment requires students to creatively demonstrate their understanding of a concept by drawing it. For instance, when teaching a lesson on the photosynthesis of plants, ask the students to draw an illustration of the plant and label it.
Another method of the dipstick is to ask the students to write a letter to their friend explaining the key concepts of the day’s lesson and other aspects that they think are important. This way, the students would be able to recall and retain the information better.
Misconceptions and errors - A lesson learned from mistakes is mostly retained. This method requires the teacher to ask the students about the point where they got confused or find the lesson difficult to understand, also known as the muddiest point. Once the instructor knows that particular point, it becomes easier for them to clear any misconceptions about the particular topic. Adding more, the teacher can also read out statements to the students and ask them to point out mistakes in the statement by applying their previous knowledge and concepts.
Participation card - Students are mostly shy or they do not come forward and put their opinions on the table. For such students, the instructor can plan an activity where they are told to read a story and summarise it for the class. Students are picked at random to summarise the story while the others have participation cards saying that they either agree or disagree with the summary. The instructor then picks students randomly to give their opinion on why they agree or disagree with the summary.
In conclusion, formative assessments in education and training are a great way for teachers to decide which lesson requires a review or to reteach the lesson. For students, it’s an effective way to reflect on their own understanding of the lesson and to welcome constructive feedback.