Feedback and Formative Assessment Tools

Examples of Formative Assessment Exercises

In-Class Learning (lectures, tutorials)

There are various formative assessment exercises that you can use when introducing students to new content. These classroom activities provide students and instructors with ongoing feedback on learning. The most popular set of activities is known as Classroom Assessment Techniques (commonly called CATs).

CATs are brief instructor led activities designed to help shape and focus subsequent teaching, based on students’ current understanding and ongoing learning needs. Most take only a few minutes of class time and can be used repeatedly throughout the term. CATs are an easy way to assess how well students are learning course content. Furthermore, they allow students to monitor—and quite possibly strengthen—their own learning. These assessment methods can also be used for summative assessment, depending on the purpose and how they are used. For example, concept maps, as outlined below, can be used to assess student formative understanding of course material, or summative assessment to formally assess student learning.

Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs)

Figure 3. Classroom Assessment Techniques


Some students are skeptical of the value of formative assessments. How can you help students to see their value? How do we encourage students to take formative assessment seriously, particularly when they have high value assessments due in other courses?