Formative assessment: Assessment for learning





Although formative assessment is a familiar concept to all teachers, it is implemented in different ways according to how it is conceptualized and characterized. For example, some teachers consider it a pre-test or a replication of the summative evaluation that consequently weighs down their workload with additional correction time outside of the classroom. Other teachers believe that students will not partake in formative assessment if “it doesn’t count”. As for developing stimulating and effective formative assessment activities, many teachers feel helpless when faced with the required preparatory demands.

Nonetheless, formative assessment represents a powerful pedagogical strategy that allows students to progress and to self-regulate during the learning stages of a course. To help teachers overcome the doubts that stop them from making full use of formative assessment in their classroom, this article presents an overview of the topic based on theoretical sources and on experience in postsecondary education. The objective is two-fold: to situate formative assessment within the broader scope of assessment practices, with respect to its characteristics and its use in the regulation of learning, and to encourage teachers to reflect upon the relevance and effectiveness of their own formative assessment practices.


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