Recent Posts



Understanding and Implementing Effective Formative Assessment

Formative assessment is a process in which evidence of students’ achievement is elicited, interpreted, and used to make next step instructional decisions that are likely to enhance learning (Black & Wiliam, 1998; 2009). It is not a distinct activity like interim tests, questioning, or feedback that engage students. Educators generally agree on the possible gains in learning resulting from formative assessment despite disparities in the definition. Teachers’ challenge in implementing formative assessment is mostly due to poor knowledge. In teaching formative assessment to pre-service teachers I employ a systems approach that engages students in exploring possible elements, their interactions, and ways to modify them within the formative assessment process (system). Eliciting students’ knowledge is a crucial element in formative assessment. A study on teachers’ elicitation practices revealed other elements that must be considered for elicitation to result in effective formative assessment (Ateh 2015): The type of questions asked by teachers; instructional strategies to motivate student engagement; and teachers’ knowledge are examples of elements to be considered in implementing elicitation. Formative assessment is thus a complex process that teachers must understand for effective implementation.

Questions to Consider:

  • What is the essence of a systems approach?

  • What are elements that impact formative assessment and how do they do that?

  • What are best research-based instructional practices to engage students in sharing their knowledge?

  • What are professional development models to enhance teachers’ formative assessment practices?

Ateh, C. M. Science Teachers’ Elicitation Practices: Insights for Formative Assessment,

Educational Assessment, 20(2), 112-131.

Black, P., & Wiliam, D. (1998). Assessment and Classroom Learning, Assessment in

Education: Principles, Policy & Practice, 5(1), 7– 74.

Black, P., & Wiliam, D. (2009). Developing the theory of formative assessment.

Educational Assessment, Evaluation and Accountability, 21, 5-31.

Comfort M. Ateh is an Associate Professor with the school of professional studies at Providence College and a research focus in systems approach in classroom assessment.