National Science Teachers Association
Formative Assessment in Science- Using
Students' Ideas to Inform Instruction and Promote Learning

This Web Seminar took place on May 2, 2011 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Presenting was Page Keeley, Senior Program Director at the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance (MMSA) and NSTA Author. Ms. Keeley talked about the need and use of formative assessment as a powerful tool in helping develop student understanding.

The PowerPoint, related resources from the NSTA Learning Center, and web links from the presentation are now contained in the above resource collection. Clicking on the collection link will place it in your Learning Center, My Library, neatly organized under the My Resource Collections tab.


This program gave participants an overview of the background on formative assessment and the research behind it. Page Keeley then showed the participants a number of tools, often referred to as ‘probes’ that assist students in examining their thinking about common science concepts. Ms. Keeley suggested that the tools be used to help students explore their current understanding and as a method of helping the students to move to the common scientific understanding.


Eighty-six (86) participants were present at the live Web Seminar in addition to the presenter and NSTA staff. Participating educators represented the states of Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia and Washington. In addition, six participants attended the Web Seminar from locations outside the United States: Germany, Nepal, Puerto Rico, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar.


Seminar participants received one of the NSTA SciGuides. A certificate of attendance was deposited into participants My PD Record and Certificates area in the NSTA Learning Center for completing the evaluation form at the end of the program.


Here are some comments provided by the participants at the end of the Web Seminar:

  • “I have used the probes before but I have not used them as regularly or as often as I would like and I don't feel I always use them in the best way. I loved that I got a lot of new ideas on how to change the probes to make them more interactive.”
  • “Being a new teacher learning how to assess students is so important. Just giving tests isn't enough. I loved learning how to begin conversations about concepts and teasing students to entice them with information and giving them time to think. I also loved learning that probes don't need to be graded and students don't always have to give the correct answers all the time.”
  • “I learned a lot of information concerning the use of formative assessments.”
  • “Provided formative assessment techniques that I could use in my high school classroom to both engage students and access data from their knowledge.”

Thanks to the participants and the presenter for the learning opportunity, the interactions, and a job well done!




For more information contact webseminars@nsta.org



Underwritten by the GE Foundation