Formative Assessment

Assessment carried out during the instructional process for the purpose of improving learning or teaching. Formative assessment includes both formal and informal processes used by teachers and students to gather evidence for the purpose of improving learning. Formal assessment may occur through assignments, tests, quizzes, performances, projects, and surveys; informal assessment includes questioning, dialogue, observation, and anecdotal note-taking. Regardless of the assessment method(s), formative assessment requires that information gathered be used to adjust teaching and learning.

Evidence Base for Formative Assessment:

Articles and Websites

“Assessing Learning Outcomes: Lessons from the AAC& U’s VALUE Project.” Peer Review: Emerging Trends and Key Debates in Undergraduate Education Volume 11, (1) Winter 2009. This volume of Peer Review is entirely dedicated to the formative assessment VALUE Project.

Fisher, Ron and D. Miller (2010) “Responding to Student Expectations: a Partnership Approach to Course Evaluation” Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education 33(2): 191-202.

Rhodes, Terrel, ed. 2010. Assessing Outcomes and Improving Achievement: Tips and Tools for Using Rubrics. Washington, DC: Association of American Colleges and Universities. Rubrics from the VALUE (Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education) project are available on the following topics: inquiry & analysis, critical thinking, creative thinking, written communication, oral communication, reading, quantitative literacy, information literacy, teamwork, problem-solving, civic knowledge & engagement (local & global), intercultural knowledge & competence, ethical reasoning, foundations & skills for lifelong learning, integrative & applied learning. See for the online version.


Chappuis, Jan (2009). Seven Strategies of Assessment for Learning. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.

Clark, Shirley (2005). Formative Assessment in Action: Weaving the Elements Together. London: Hodder Education.