Prompting student learning with formative assessments

Macmillan Employee
Macmillan Employee
0 0 621

The best assessment is one that both gauges learning and engages students in learning. The first edition of Assessment in the College Science Classroom discusses two types of assessments: formative and summative.

Formative assessment facilitates learning in many ways, not the least because it is iterative and provides ongoing feedback. Engaging students is challenging enough, but many effective strategies employ questioning. There are many types of formative assessments that can help engage students by requiring them to recall information from memory and apply that knowledge. See the table below for some examples of small-scale formative assessments discussed in Assessment in the College Science Classroom.




Intended Learning Outcome


Students list everything they know on a given topic or in response to a question

Students retrieve prior knowledge

Concept Maps

Students create graphical illustration with connecting arrows indicating relationships

Students synthesize their understanding of complex processes or systems

Immediate Response Systems (“Clickers”)

Class polling systems allow anonymous responses and immediate feedback 

Students retrieve information, apply new understanding and correct misconceptions


Quizzing at the beginning of class or online prior/after class

Students retrieve information and apply prior knowledge to answer questions


Do you use assessments to encourage student learning? 


Learn more about the different types of assessments and their potential benefits in Dirks, Wenderoth and Withers’ Assessment in the College Science Classroom.