Unlike summative assessments, formative assessments are instructional tools that provide on-the-spot indicators of a student’s present level of understanding regarding the material they are learning. A majority of formative assessments are informal in nature, and as such do not usually have a large, if any, impact on student grades. Rather, they are mainly used in order for instructors to gauge whether they should continue with their lesson or stop and review the concepts already covered. They also allow instructors to provide students with feedback in order to help them better understand the material they are working with. Formative assessments are meant to help ensure that most if not all of a teacher’s students will successfully comprehend the subject matter being taught.
Examples of formative assessment include: quick writes, rough drafts, exit tickets, learning logs, raising hands, and teacher observation.