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This content is taken from the National STEM Learning Centre's online course, Planning for Learning: Formative Assessment. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 4 seconds CHRIS: Assessment for learning becomes formative when teachers take action on the evidence they collect. Teachers respond to what they notice - this might be a correct or an incorrect answer, a detailed or vague description or a specific way of explaining an answer. The key here is interpreting what has been said or done and then deciding whether commenting on the answer or product might be useful in consolidating or sorting out that individual’s learning and also that of the class.

Taking action on the evidence

So far in the course:

  • In Week 1 we explored the importance of decision-driven-data-collection. That is planning for opportunities to collect evidence of students’ learning
  • Then, in Week 2 we discussed planning starting points for teaching based on students’ prior understanding, specifically taking into consideration students’ misconceptions. We observed ways teachers can identify students’ starting points, and supporting students to know what success looks like up front.
  • Last week, in Week 3 we investigated ways we can tune our teaching, to increase the quality of our in class assessments, helping us to be better placed to infer students’ errors and understanding.

In this video, Chris discusses the importance having planned for assessment opportunities for you to then take action on the evidence collected. This week we move on to explore how you can be formative in your practices by planning how you can respond both in the lesson and between lessons. In this way you will be planning for answering the third question: Where do I go next? It is this responsiveness that creates formative action.

In the classroom examples this week we will see how our teachers were able to elicit a range of responses, vague ideas and incorrect thinking from their students and we ask you how you would respond in such situations.


In the course self-audit task in Week 1, we asked how far you agreed with following statements:

  • “I am confident at responding during the lesson to unexpected or unusual answers.”
  • “I am confident at responding between lessons to students’ ideas.”

You’ve now started to build up how you plan for learning, so how has your confidence changed? How does a greater awareness of the evidence you can collect about student understanding impact your confidence in being able to respond during and between lessons?

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This video is from the free online course:

Planning for Learning: Formative Assessment

National STEM Learning Centre