Assessment for Learning

Strategies in the Classroom

Key Strategies

  • Clarifying Understanding and Sharing Learning Intentions
  • Engineering Effective Classroom Discussions Tasks and Activities That Elicit Evidence of Learning
  • Providing Feedback that Moves Learners Forward
  • Activating Students as Learning Resources for One Another
  • Activating Student as owners of Their Own Learning

Formative Assessment

Monitors Student Learning

  • Help Students Identify Strengths and Weaknesses
  • Help Faculty Recognize When Students Are Struggling and Address Immediately
  • Low Stakes Assessments

Formative assessment is meant more to provide ongoing feedback as a student learns and encourages teachers to move in to aid students when they notice problems. Formative assessments are usually low stakes, meaning in a graded classroom they tend to have little impact on grades and tend to be discussions or drafts of assignments.

Summative Assessment

Evaluates Student Learning

  • A Midterm Exam
  • A Final Project
  • A Paper
  • A Senior Recital
  • High Stakes Assessments

Summative assessments are meant to provide critique of a student's grasp of a topic at the end or after a major milestone of a class. Summative assessments are usually high stakes and can greatly impact the student's grades. Summative assessment results can be used to aid formative, as they can show the areas where a student is having trouble.

Effective Classroom Environments

Both formative and summative assessments are useful to a teacher. Formative allows for constant feedback to improve a student's grasp of a topic, such as when a student wishes to learn how to operate a computer, having a teacher nearby to answer questions and demonstrate techniques will likely improve a student's understand faster than a summative assessment. Summative assessments do have their uses, mainly to demonstrate competence after several classroom sessions, mainly in exams but also when important topics have been discussed where the student must demonstrate their knowledge. As mentioned, summative assessment also provide feedback for the teacher, allowing them to see areas where students are struggling to understand and can alter their lessons accordingly.


Rystad, M. (2013, April 7). Assessment for learning [Video file]. Retrieved from
University, C. (2016). Formative vs Summative Assessment-Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation - Carnegie Mellon University. Retrieved 7 April 2016, from