Remember the anxiety and stress of tests? Assessments are an integral part of education. But if they induce undue anxiety among students, we have got the meaning of assessment all wrong. The word assessment comes from the Latin word, assidere which means “to sit beside another.” In other words, the purpose of assessment is to sit beside the student and find out what the student does and does not know. Based on this information, the teacher could help the student learn better.

Using assessment to drive student learning, rather than merely measure it, is known as formative assessment. Here are 5 ideas on how you can carry out Formative Assessment in your classrooms.

Online quiz

Online tools such as Google Forms offer an easy way to administer quizzes as formative assessments. They hardly take more than a few minutes for students to fill up. And they offer a range of meaningful data that can be used to drive student learning. For example, students can immediately find out which of their answers were wrong and which were right. The teacher can see the questions for which many students have selected the wrong answer. Thus, the teacher can find out questions or topics that are hard to understand for the majority of the class. Such information could be used for remedial instruction.

As a teacher, you could consider having a quick quiz on Google Forms to check what students learn at the end of each lesson. Other tools such as Kahoot and Quizizz could be useful alternatives.

Project work

The best way to learn is through creation. When students create a model or an experiment, they use various skills to understand a concept and integrate them in different ways. This drives student learning and also exposes deficiencies in understanding. Thus, projects are great formative assessment tools for teachers.

Science teachers could employ the creation of models and conduct experiments as projects. Social Science and language teachers could ask students to create infographics, videos, podcasts or creative essays depicting concepts.

Student lectures

Student-led lectures are a great way to identify whether students understand a topic. Students would prepare and present a 10-minute lecture or a presentation on a particular topic in class. They could be encouraged to use PowerPoint slides, infographics, videos, or any other learning aids. At the end of each lecture, the teacher could add a few points and fill in gaps in understanding or correct some errors.

3x Summarization

To check the understanding of the students, ask them to write a summary of what they have learnt. Summarising a topic in one’s own words is also a great way to keep what one has learnt. Moreover, summarization can be done with different limitations. You could ask students to write three different summaries:
– One in 10-15 words
– One in 30-50 words
– One in 75-100 words.
The different lengths require different attention to detail. It would also require the students to capture only the most important idea in fewer words, ensuring that students learn the essence of an idea.

Two things I understood – one thing I didn’t

This is a metacognitive strategy. In other words, this requires the students to think about their own thinking. It is useful for teachers to encourage a habit of reflecting on one’s own learning. Under this strategy, students write down 2 things that they understood and 1 thing that they could not understand. This could be a quick 2-minute activity at the end of each class or the end of each day. If a large number of students do not understand a particular idea, teachers could take remedial measures to improve learning on that idea.

Encouraging the habit of self-reflection has an added benefit. Students often may not be aware of their own lack of understanding unless they think about it. Through such reflective practices, students would be able to become aware of what they do not understand and seek out ways to remedy them.

Bonus tip: Using online collaborative text editors such as Google Docs

For long term projects, students could use a tool such as Google Docs to build their work. The advantage of such online tools is the ability to collaborate with the teacher and with peers. The student could type out his or her work and others would be able to offer helpful comments as feedback.

This method would also enable the teacher to track the progress of the student and offer helpful comments and feedback along the way. Even the peers of the student would be able to offer feedback. Because the teacher is tracking their progress, the students would work on the project every day rather than cram the work at the last minute.

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