Types of Formative Assessment

Formative assessment refers to a variety of methods that teachers use to evaluate student comprehension, learning needs, and academic progress during a lesson, unit, or course. Unlike summative assessments which assess a student’s overall knowledge at the end of an instructional period, formative assessments are ongoing and can be used to inform instruction in real-time. Below are several types of formative assessments and a brief description of each:

Types of Formative Assessment

  1. Observations: Teachers can simply watch and listen to students as they engage with material. Observing can provide a wealth of information about student understanding and misconceptions.
  2. Questioning Techniques: Asking open-ended questions can stimulate student thinking and provide insight into their thought processes.
  3. Discussion and Debates: Facilitating classroom discussions and debates can enable students to express their understanding and hear the perspectives of their peers.
  4. Think-Pair-Share: In this strategy, students first think about a question on their own, then pair up with a classmate to discuss their thoughts, and finally share their conclusions with the class.
  5. Exit Tickets: At the end of a lesson, students can write down an answer to a question posed by the teacher. This provides immediate feedback on what the student took away from the lesson.
  6. Learning Journals: Students keep journals or logs where they reflect on their learning experiences, challenges, and how they overcame those challenges.
  7. Concept Mapping: Students create visual representations of their understanding of a topic, making connections between different ideas.
  8. Peer Assessment: Students evaluate each other’s work. This not only provides feedback but also helps students refine their own understanding by examining the work of their peers.
  9. Self-Assessment: Students evaluate their own work or understanding against a set criteria. This helps in fostering self-awareness and responsibility in learning.
  10. Quizzes: Short quizzes, either paper-based or digital, can quickly gauge understanding of material recently taught.
  11. Drafts and Revisions: For written work or projects, having students submit drafts and then revise based on feedback emphasizes the importance of the learning process.
  12. Digital Tools: Apps and platforms that offer real-time quizzes, polls, and other interactive features (e.g., Kahoot!, Socrative) can engage students and provide immediate feedback.
  13. Feedback: Providing timely and specific feedback on student work, whether it’s written or verbal, is a crucial aspect of formative assessment.
  14. Interactive Notebooks: Students maintain notebooks where they engage with content in an interactive manner, using both left and right brain activities.
  15. Four Corners: A question or statement is posed with four possible answers. Students move to the corner of the room that represents their answer, promoting both movement and discussion.


Formative assessment is an integral part of the instructional process. By evaluating student comprehension and learning needs as they are being taught, educators can adjust their instruction in real-time, ensuring that every student has an opportunity to grasp the material. As education continues to evolve, it’s certain that even more innovative formative assessment techniques will emerge, further empowering teachers to meet the diverse needs of their students.

by Abdullah Sam
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