How to Use Formative Assessments in Your Classroom


Formative assessment involves assessing learners’ learning during the learning process, not only at the end. Formative assessments can occur at one point in a unit of work or during a lesson. This type of evaluation helps the student identify their strengths and weaknesses right away. Areas that need improvement are evident instantly.


  • Allows instructors to adjust their teaching if learners are not quite up to where you expected, or if they are exceeding your expectations.
  • Learners get feedback on their progress before the summative assessment, allowing them to adjust.
  • Provides the instructor with a better understanding of their learners. If a learner fails a summative assessment but the instructor knows the learner could complete the task at the formative stage, more investigation can take place to see why there is a discrepancy in academic performance.


  • Can be time-consuming to assess learners’ abilities continually.
  • Formative assessments habitually lack the authority of summative assessment pieces.


  1. Formative assessments can be stops to get feedback and ongoing questioning of learners.
  2. Use open-ended questions and check your learners’ understanding of the task.
  3. Use guided or independent practice, pop quizzes, or learner-instructor conferences.
  4. Use a quick game to gauge understanding. You can have learners sketch a concept map; quiz a neighbor with five questions; complete a 3-2-1 activity after class where they write three things they learned, two things they want to learn, and one question they have; older learners can summarize what was discovered in a 140-character “tweet.”
  5. Provide an entrance or exit ticket when the learners answer a question about the lesson.
  6. Provide a physical or digital place where learners can send questions on the current topic.
  7. Write a one-minute paper responding to the essential idea of the day, something that was perplexing, something they think may be on the exam, an aha or surprising thought.
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