Ed. 3504Ashton H., Megan, Jenelle, Jazmin, and Amanda

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.―Benjamin Franklin

Figure 1

1. Definition

Assessment for learning--also known as formative assessment--is a form of hands on assessment used to enhance the learning process and promote learning in the classroom. Unlike evaluation (assessment of learning), which is used to determine student achievement and course quality, assessment for learning is an informal tool for gathering information on student knowledge so as teachers we can direct our teaching methods and learning steps to meet the immediate needs of our students.

Assessment for learning is:
    • descriptive feedback to learners during learning
    • used to collect information
    • used to determine next teaching and learning steps
    • involves the student
    • specific assessment
    • providing information to allow learners to improve
    • determining what has been and what needs to be learned
Figure 2

"Formative assessment activities serve as practice or rehearsal for more formal work and presentation."-Alberta Learning

2. Why is incorporating Assessment for Learning into the classroom important?

2.1 Positives of Assessment for Learning

  • Assessment for learning is far less threatening to students. Under the pressure of testing and permanent grades students are more likely to memorize facts into their short term memory, therefor test scores are likely to go up without any corresponding improvement in student learning. When students don't fear assessment they are more likely to get involved in the learning process and gain a better understanding of the content.
  • Assessment for learning keeps assessment in the present. Teachers are able to respond and give feedback immediately after assessing their students. This allows teachers to get a better understand the current state of student learning and action can be taken immediately to improve the learning process and fix any misunderstandings of the content.
  • Assessment for learning allows for plenty of descriptive feedback for students and limits evaluation feedback. Descriptive feedback gives guidance for improvement during the learning process vs. after the learning process (evaluation feedback).
    Figure 3
  • By constantly assessing during their lessons, teachers are able to gauge students prior-knowledge and modify their lesson plans in order to best support learning.
  • A large aspect of assessment for learning is student involvement. When students have a clear understanding of what is expected of them they are for more likely to achieve it. It allows students to create a mental model of what success looks like for themselves and take accountability for their work.
  • Assessment for learning focuses on self-assessment. Self-assessment increases students responsibility and holds them more accountable for their work. They are more capable of setting goals for themselves and gives them the opportunity think about their own learning process. It is also very important that teachers are constantly self assessing themselves to better improve their teaching methods and student learning.

2.2 Issues of Assessment for Learning

  • Assessment for learning is a newer concept that can be very intimidating for not only new teachers, but also very experienced teachers. Breaking away from old traditional styles and perceptions can be like trying to break a "bad habit". It involves constant commitment and a major change in traditional teaching methods.
  • As the focus still remains on standardized testing in many schools, it is hard for teachers to find the resources they need to implement assessment for learning. Without a variety of resources teachers fail to diversify their teaching strategies and assessment methods. For assessment for learning to work, it needs to be an effort of the entire school, which unfortunately is not always the case.
  • Assessment for learning requires teachers to be prepared and organized. There is a near absence of pre-assessment which promotes the illusion that all students need to learn the same content with the same instruction. Differentiated learning is a necessary step when planning what evidence to assess and collect. This means teachers need to expand the ways students represent what they know. The readiness of teachers is not always there. Different types of assessment means more time, and more planning about what evidence needs to be collected.
  • Potential for subjective nature in the scoring process. This can be avoided by the development of quality scoring guide lines and applying them carefully. This again relates back to teacher and school involvement. Developing quality scoring guide lines requires preparation, organization, and commitment.

3. Effective Integration into the Classroom

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In order for assessment for learning to be effectively integrated into the classroom it needs to be a group effort of not only the teachers, but the schools. Research has proven that the old model of assessment is not what leads to student success, that it is important for students to see growth and success rather than feeling compared to their peers with letter grades. As teachers, it is our responsibility to continually grow and learn with our students. This means looking to new tools of assessment in order to create an enhanced learning environment for our students where they do not have to fear making mistakes but embracing them.Teachers need to develop a toolbox of assessment strategies so that they can assess their students in a manner that allows for each student to be successful. It is important for teachers to continually plan for assessment for learning each day and to understand what they are looking for. Effective integration of assessment for learning into the classroom takes dedication, practice, and an open mind.

3.1 Teacher Dedication

Not only teachers, but the entire school system they work within, need to be organized and committed to efforts that support assessment for learning. In order for assessment for learning to work, teachers must accept and be dedicated to major changes in traditional teaching methods. Teachers should dedicate their efforts to improving and diversifying ways students represent what they know. This means that assessment for learning requires an abundant amount of commitment, effort, and knowledge when planning what evidence to assess and how to collect it in order to best meet the needs of the students.

This video demonstrates a formative assessment strategy where the teacher uses whiteboards to assess how much the students know or what needs to be reviewed. This is a great way to do review before a major summative assessment because as the teacher, you can adjust your review session to be more tailored to what your students are struggling with or excelling with.

exit slip.jpg
Figure 5
3.2 Activities/Examples

There are many different ways for teachers to assess for learning in their classrooms. As teachers it is our job to recognize what works best in our classroom and to always be adapting. Here are some examples of assessment for learning activities:
  • Exit Slips
  • Self-assessment
  • Creating criteria with students
  • Classroom discussion
  • Peer-assessment
  • Journals, reflections, and logs
  • Instructional questions and answers
  • Teacher/student conferences and interviews

4. Extra Resources



5. References

Alberta Learning. Assessment: Types and Purposes of Classroom Assessment. Retrieved October 4, 2012 from:

Apple Image. Retrieved October 12, 2012 from:

Assessment FOR Learning- A Salem High School Teacher Uses Whiteboards to Assess Students. Retrieved October 5, 2012 from:

Benjamin Franklin Quotation. Retrieved October 10, 2012 from:

Clark, I. (2012). Formative Assessment: Assessment Is for Self-regulated Learning. Educational Psychology Review, 24(2), 205-249.

Davies, Anne. Making Classroom Assessment Work. 3rd ed. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press, 2011.

Earl, Lorna and Katz, Steven. (2006). Rethinking Classroom Assessment with Purpose in Mind. Retrieved October 1, 2012 from:

Exit Slip Image. Retrieved October 12, 2012 from:

Formative Assessment Tools Image (Figure 2.) Retrieved October 12, 2012 from:

Interactive Learning Image (Figure 1.) Retrieved September 27th, 2012, from: http://www.education.net.au/images/uploaded/ST%20ANDREWS%20CATHEDRAL%20-%2013%20-%20INTERACTIVE%20LEARNING.JPG.

Hands up Image (Figure 3.) Retrieved September 27th, 2012, from:

Scott, S. J. (2012). Rethinking the Roles of Assessment in Music Education. Music Educators Journal, 98(3), 31-35.

Teacher Instruction (Figure 4.) Retrieved October 12, 2012 from :