Using Formative and Alternative Assessments to Support Instruction and Measure Student Learningby: Tricia Britton

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Using formative assessment involves gathering data from students on their progress and comprehension so that instruction can be adjusted to meet their learning needs (Popham 2001; Greenstein 2010). This article describes how the author uses homework, “three quick questions,” trivia questions, pretests, and practice tests to formatively assess student knowledge and direct instruction. Additionally, alternative assessments and a science-project paper are means by which students demonstrate mastery of skills not easily assessed by traditional objective tests.

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Reviews (6)
  • on Wed Oct 16, 2013 6:48 PM

This article addresses the need for formative assessment in teaching, while offering some simple suggestions on how to complete the assessments. The author suggests the use of pretest, labs, homework and a method call "three questions" to formatively evaluate student understanding of the content. There are numerous other suggestions included, such as the use of alternative assessments. Overall, I highly recommend this article for any teacher considering improving upon formative assessments in their classroom.

Susanne Hokkanen  (Orland Park, IL)
Susanne Hokkanen (Orland Park, IL)

  • on Tue Apr 10, 2012 5:00 PM

This article contains several strategies to help teachers “assess FOR learning”. One example is where the students are given only the first column of a scoring rubric – the requirement for A work. Getting a C is not an option, and students know what is expected of them for an A. The article provided several strategies to check for ongoing understanding. It also provided an extensive list of alternative assessments and a rubric for grading alternative assessments. If one is looking for more ways to effectively monitor student learning, this article will be a worthwhile read.

Carolyn M  (Buffalo Grove, IL)
Carolyn M (Buffalo Grove, IL)

  • on Sun Nov 13, 2011 7:27 PM

According Tricia Britton, "Learning must be monitored, and formative assessment is a process, not an end product. Used effectively, formative assessment monitors student learning." She discusses her initial ideas of how she used formative assessments in her classroom. She then further showed how she developed it into a more effective model to help her monitor and address issues where students needed more practice or reteaching. She offers rubrics to grade with, a list of possible products as alternate assessments, and pictures of some student made projects. I especially liked the alternative assessment list. This is an article that would be a great read for both Elementary and Middle school teachers.

Sue Garcia
Sue Garcia

  • on Sat Feb 19, 2011 4:13 PM

A wide variety of assessments are discussed in this article, including pretests designed to access prior knowledge and identify misconceptions, homework and “three quick questions” to evaluate student comprehension throughout the teaching unit, and alternative assessments as a way of allowing students to demonstrate their knowledge. A rubric is included for teachers who would like to incorporate alternative assessments into their classroom. The practical approaches discussed in the article will assist teachers with implementing assessments that will inform instruction and measure student learning.

Patricia McGinnis  (Pottstown, PA)
Patricia McGinnis (Pottstown, PA)

  • on Wed Jan 05, 2011 1:56 PM

The author introduces several strategies that she uses in her classroom to formatively assess her students. She also provides a rationale for using each strategy and when it is most appropriate to be used. Article provides a fresh perspective some common formative assessments that are used in classrooms.

Kate Geer  (Louisville, CO)
Kate Geer (Louisville, CO)

  • on Mon Apr 25, 2011 7:29 PM

This article provdes the background and ideas for a teacher to begin using formative assessments in the classrom. The author is showing us how she used some traditional assessment in a formative way. It would have been nice to have a specific example detailing how she changed her instruction when she had a small group of students when they were struggling with concepts.

Kathy Renfrew  (Barnet, VT)
Kathy Renfrew (Barnet, VT)

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