Formative assessment is a pedagogical strategy that enables teachers to modify their teaching style and the learning activities they facilitate with the ambition of improving student achievement.
Formative assessment can be both formal and informal, so long as it is implemented throughout the learning process. This allows the teacher to adapt their style whilst students are learning, as opposed to summative assessment, which is produced after the learning has taken place.
The two main rationales for formative assessment in education are that constant feedback empowers students to be aware and in control of their own learning and that it informs subsequent teacher practice.
Teachers are able to evaluate the effectiveness of their teaching of various concepts, know who is not understanding, and readjust their teaching program accordingly. It is a clear process of information gathering and application, ensuring teaching is always intentional and directed towards improving student achievement.
Reflecting on teaching practice
By existing as reflective spaces influenced by formative assessment, visual journals substantiate the construction of narratives. When contrasting a number or grades-based reporting system with authentic assessment, Eisner (2007) states that ‘narratives may tell a fuller story and certainly complemented with quantitative information can broaden our understanding of the consequences of our practices’. It is through these narratives that teachers are able to adjust their teaching styles in order to better facilitate and report upon student learning.