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Formative assessment

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Introduction Formative assessment is an instructional process, which when practiced in the room, provides the informationneeded to adjust learning and teaching. It informs both the students and the teacher and the students understand adjustment point in time. This adjustment helps the student to meet targeted standards and goals within a set period. According to center for education research and innovation, formative assessment is an interactive assessment of the student where the teacher identifies learning needs and shapes the teaching. In the past few years formative and summative assessment definitions have become confusing yet they are not difficult to define. They are both an integral part of gathering information. Teachers use an approach of formative assessment to determine what to do during the learning process. Involvement of the student is very vital – when the students are not involved in the assessment process, formative assessment is not fully implemented and practiced (Garrison amp. Ehringhaus, 2007). Research has shown that student involvement increases student motivation to learn. This will be successful with teachers’ full support to help them identify goal, design assessment task and set criteria for success. Feedback is an important component in student assessment as they learn. In fact, feedback is a significant strategy to help students move forward in their learning since it helps them understand what they are doing well and reach the next step in their learning (Garrison amp. Ehringhaus, 2007). According to Dodge (2009), formative assessment has a variety of strategies used as a way of understanding and gathering information during learning. They include graphics organizers, lists and charts where students organize information and note relationships of various graphic organizers. Visual representations of information is also a strategy where students use pictures and word to increase memory, make connections and retrieve information later. Garrison and Ehringhaus (2007) further indicate that formative strategy will include observations where teachers need to walk around the classroom to see whether students need any clarification. The teachers then gather the evidence, which later is used for feedback about students’ learning. Further self and peer assessment strategy creates a learning environment in the classroom where students can be engaged in meta-cognitive thinking and reflect on their learning. When peer evaluation is involved, students see each other as useful for understanding and checking wok that is of high quality. Criteria and goal setting is a strategy that will help the student create clear expectation. Students need to create a strategy for reaching their goals and target. They can do so by using test and examples for an effective process. The purpose and benefits of formative assessment include all activities that students and teachers take to have information that can be used to change learning. To improve students’ success, teachers use the information that they already have to make any instructional change or use alternative approaches. Feedback has also been beneficial, as it has helped the student be aware of any gap that is hindering their desired goal and their present knowledge. For those students who are unwilling to invest in further leaning and are discouraged because of poor performance, formative assessment helps to support their expectation (Boston, 2002). Formative assessment however has some barriers whereby it is not just possible to put ideas together into practice especially where large classes are involved (OECD, 2006). Again, it is not possible to go at a slower pace when the curriculum requirement is extensive and important and teachers find this more challenging. Teachers may also find it difficult to acquaint themselves with formative assessment since it means change. The assessment requires that the teacher changes the way in which they think about lesson, student abilities, and student interaction and attentiveness. There are varieties of ways of addressing the barriers of formative assessment. To start with, teachers should find ways of dealing with large classes and balance the requirement of extensive curriculum. They should also look for a way of dealing with those students who are challenging. This has had good results as interaction has improved and students are doing better work. Legislation is another way of promoting practice of formative assessment and overcoming the barriers, as it makes sure that there is high visibility and that formative assessment purpose is met (OECD, 2006). Conclusion Formative assessment is valid when a student comprehends assessment program at the classroom and a clear picture emerges of student goals and standard. The student will go on achieving when they know more and as they engage in learning process. However, teachers need to make sure that they ask reflective and thoughtful rather than factual and simple questions, and then give the students time to answer. As Boston (2002) asserts, teachers should reflect on the assessment benefit and practice from observing and inquiring from their colleagues. In essence, the culture of assessment and evaluation are important for change since teachers will keep track of what work they have done and by so doing, they pass on knowledge more easily. References Boston, C. (2002). The Concept of Formative Assessment. Retrieved from http://pareonline.net/getvn.asp?v=8amp.n=9 Dodge, J. (2009). What are Formative Assessments and Why Should We Use Them? Retrieved from http://www2.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=3751398 Garrison, C. amp. Ehringhaus, M. (2007). Formative and Summative Assessments in the Classroom. Retrieved from http://www.nmsa.og/publications/webExclusive/Assessment/tabid/1120/Default.aspx OECD (2006): Education Policy Analysis: Focus on Higher Education. United States: OECD Publishing.