Feedback and Assessment


Formative Assessment

Dr. Allison White interacts with students during classInstructors often conflate evaluation, praise, and feedback. They are, however, distinctly different and serve different purposes. Contemporary research indicates that praise may hinder student progress or decrease motivation. That is not to say we should not praise students; it’s just a cautionary point to highlight the importance of feedback. Feedback is direct information provided to students that lets them know how their current performance measures up in relation to a standard. It is important to remind students that formative assessment is a form of feedback so they understand the role of formative assessment in your classroom. To keep students from stressing over the word “assessment” in formative assessment, you can choose to change the term to “check for understanding” and maintain formative assessments as a regular, low-stakes or no-stakes practice in your teaching. Don’t presume that telling students “good job” will motivate them as feedback should offer specific guidance on steps that can be taken to improve.

Typically, formative assessments are either ungraded or low stakes and are used to inform instructors and students about student learning. Formative assessments, when used with spaced practice, promote mental retrieval and learning; provide students with feedback; and also allow for corrective actions (on the part of the instructor and the student). Student discussion, active learning, problem solving, and independent processing activities can all act as formative assessments, or Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs)when the results of these activities are used to inform students of their level of understand and what steps to take if they have not yet grasped material at a level necessary for the course. Formative assessment can take any of the following formats: