3 tools to engage students in formative assessments

Formative assessments are key to effective teaching because they provide both the instructor and the student valuable feedback on student learning. These assessments involve the ongoing practice of gathering information during class on students’ understanding and skills, either formally (through a feedback sheet or quiz) or informally (through anecdotal records and observations). This allows instructors to make appropriate instructional adjustments to their lessons. When the feedback is shared with students, they can self-assess, set learning goals and learn from their mistakes.

Formative assessments are known as assessments for learning (Mindsetkit, 2018) as opposed to assessment of learning (a quiz or test at the end of a unit). Important research by Butler (1988) compared three groups of students who received: a grade only, feedback only, and a grade and feedback together. Students who received descriptive, formative feedback from a grade and feedback together, outperformed the two other groups who received one or the other.

Technology in formative assessment

Technology can enhance both classroom engagement and the way formative assessments are conducted. Student Response Systems (or Student Response Tools) are an easy method of engaging every student in the classroom. Whether it is a small or large class, every student has the opportunity to respond without having to speak out loud.

3 engaging Student Response Systems

Student Response Systems and formative assessments

These are some practical examples where I have used Student Response Systems to ask students questions for formative assessments.

Using Student Response Systems in formative assessments can enhance both classroom engagement and the way formative assessments are conducted. Students are given the opportunity to respond to assessments without having to compete with their peers, and instructors are able to effectively assess students regardless of the classroom size.

To discuss any of the resources further, please contact Kat Karaivanova kat.karaivanova@unh.edu or Elsa Wiehe elsa.wiehe@navitas.com


  • Butler, R. (1988). Enhancing and undermining intrinsic motivation: The effects of task-involving and ego-involving evaluation on interest and performance. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 58, 1–14.
  • Butler, R., & Nisan, M. (1986). Effects of no feedback, task-related comments, and grades on intrinsic motivation and performance. Journal of Educational Psychology, 78, 210–216.
  • Mindset Kit. Assessment for learning encourages a growth mindset. Retrieved on February 19, 2018 from https://www.mindsetkit.org/topics/assessments-growth-mindset-math/assessments-for-learning-encourage-growth-mindset.