There are a variety of ways to assess a student’s progress and understanding. Two of the primary methods are formal and informal assessments. Formal assessments include tests, quizzes, and projects. Students can studyand prepare for these assessments in advance, and they provide a systematic tool for teachers to measure a student’s knowledge and evaluate learning progress.
Informal assessments are more casual, observation-based tools. With little advance preparation and no need to grade the results, these assessments allow teachers to get a feel for student progress and identify areas in which they might need more instruction. Informal assessments can help teacherspinpoint students’ strengths andweaknesses and guide planning for upcoming lessons.
In the classroom, informal assessments are important because they can help identify potential problem areas and allow for course correction before students are required to demonstrate understanding at a formal evaluation.
Many homeschooling families prefer to rely almost entirely on informal assessments because they are often a more accurate indicator of understanding, particularly for students who don’t test well.
Informal assessments can also provide vital student feedback without the stress of tests and quizzes.
Following are just a few examples of creative informal assessments for your classroom or homeschool.
Observation is the heart of any informal assessment, but it is also a key stand-alone method. Simply watch your student throughout the day. Look for signs of excitement, frustration, boredom, and engagement. Make notes about the tasks and activities that elicit these emotions.
Keep samples of student work inchronological orderso that you can identify progress and areas of weakness. Sometimes you don’t realize how much a student has progressed until you compare their current work to previous samples.
Author Joyce Herzog has a simple but effective method of observing progress. Ask your student to do simple tasks such as writing an example of each math operation he understands, writing the most complicated word he knows he can spell correctly, orwriting a sentence (or short paragraph). Do the same process once a quarter or once a semester to gauge progress.
We often think of oral presentations as a type of formal assessment, but they can be a fantastic informal assessment tool, as well. Set a timer forone or twominutes and ask your student to tell you what he’s learned about a particular topic.
For example, if you are learning about parts of speech, you could ask your students to name as many prepositions as they can in 30 seconds while you write them on the whiteboard.
A broader approach is to present students with a sentence starter and let them take turns finishing it. Examples include:
- “My favorite thing about this topic was…”
- “The most interesting or surprising thing I learned about this was…”
- “This historical figure was…”
Give your students one to three minutes at the end of each day to journal about what they learned. Vary the daily journaling experience by asking students to:
- list 5-10 facts they’ve learned about a topic
- write about the most exciting thing they learned that day
- list one or two things they’d like to know more about
- note something that they’re having trouble understanding
- list ways that you could help them understand a topic better.
Let your students write questions for each other on a piece of paper. Instruct students to crumple their paper, and let them have an epic paper wad toss. Then, have all the students pick up one of the paper balls, read the question aloud, and answer it.
This activity wouldn’t work well in most homeschool settings, but it’s an excellent way for students in a classroom or homeschool co-op to get the wiggles out and check their knowledge on a topic they’ve been studying.
Four Corners is another fantastic activity for getting kids up and moving while also assessing their knowledge. Label each corner of the room with a different option such as strongly agree, agree, disagree, strongly disagree, or A, B, C, and D. Read a question or statement and have students go to the corner of the room that represents their answer.
After students reach their corner, allow them a minute ortwo to discuss their choice in their group. Then, choose a representative from each group to explain or defend that group’s answer.
Let your students play matching (also known asconcentration) in groups or pairs. Write questions on one set of cards and answers on the other. Shuffle the cards and lay them, one by one, face down on a table. Students take turns turning over two cards trying to match a question card with the correct answer card. If a student makes a match, he gets another turn. If he does not, it’s the next players turn. The student with the most matches wins.
Concentration is an extremely versatile game. You can use math facts and their answers, vocabulary words and their definitions, or historical figures or events with their dates or details.
At the end of each day or week, have your students complete an exit slip before leaving the classroom. Index cards work well for this activity. You can have the questions printed on the cards, written on the whiteboard, or you can read them aloud.
Ask your students to fill out the card with answers to statements such as:
- Threethings I learned
- Twoquestions I have
- One thing I didn’t understand
- What I found most interesting
This is an excellent activity for gauging what students have retained about the topic they are studying and to determine areas which may need more explanation.
Supply the tools and let students show you what they know, explaining the process as they go. If they’re learning about measurements, provide rulers or a tape measure and items to measure. If they’re studying plants, offer a variety of plants and let students point out the different parts of the plant and explain what each does.
If students are learning about biomes, provide the settings for each (drawings, photos, or dioramas, for example) and model plants, animals, or insects that one might find in the biomes represented. Let students place the figures in their correct settings and explain why they belong there or what they know about each.
Drawing is an excellent way for creative, artistic, or kinesthetic learners to express what they’ve learned. They can draw the steps of a process or create a comic strip to depict a historical event. They can draw and label plants, cells, or the parts of a knight’s armor.
Crossword puzzles make a fun, stress-free informal assessment tool. Create puzzles with a crossword puzzle maker, using definitions or descriptions as the clues. Accurate answers result in a correctly-completed puzzle. You can use crossword puzzles to evaluate understanding of a variety of history, science, or literature topics such as states, presidents, animals, or even sports.
Narration is a method of student evaluation widely used in homeschooling circles and inspired by Charlotte Mason, a British educator, at the turn of the 20th century. The practice involves having a student tell you, in his own words, what he has heard after a read-aloud or learned after studying a topic.
Explaining something in one’s own words requires comprehension of the subject. Using narration is a useful tool for discovering what a student has learned and identifying areas that you may need tocover more thoroughly.
Invite students to act out scenes or create puppet shows from topics they’ve been studying. This is especially effective for historical events or biographical studies.
Drama can be an exceptionally valuable and easy-to-implement tool for homeschooling families. It’s common for young children to incorporate what they’re learning into their pretend play. Listen and observe as your children play to evaluate what they’re learning and what you may need to clarify.
Use self-evaluation to help studentsreflect on and assesstheir own progress.There are many options for a simple self-assessment. One is to ask students to raise their hands to indicate whichstatement applies to them: “I fully understand the topic,” “I mostly understand the topic,” “I’m a little confused,” or “I need help.”
Another option is to ask students to give a thumbs up, a sideways thumb, or a thumbs down to indicate fully understand, mostly understand, or need help. Or use a five-finger scale and have students hold up the number of fingers that corresponds to their level of understanding.
You may also want to create a self-evaluation form for students to complete. The form can list statements about the assignment and boxes for students to check if they strongly agree, agree, disagree, or strongly disagree that the statement applies to their assignment. This type of self-evaluation would also be useful for students to rate their behavior or participation in class.
Examples of informal assessments include observation, portfolios, anecdotal notes and checklists. Screening assessments give teachers valuable information about where children are developmentally.How do you informally assess students? ›
Common types of informal assessment include quizzes, writing samples, and project-based assignments. In informal assessment, quizzes are used to improve class engagement and participation. So, you'd find the instructor splitting the class into groups while every student has a go at the questions.What are some informal assessment strategies? ›
- Exit Slips. Get kids in the habit of knowing they will be expected to fill out exit slips that follow the same format every time. ...
- Strategic Multiple Choice. ...
- Kahoot! ...
- Backchannel Chat. ...
- Plickers. ...
- Skills Checklist. ...
- Demonstration Stations. ...
- Photo Capture.
There are two commonly used informal methods: performance-based assessment and portfolio assessment. Both methods utilize typical classroom activities to measure progress toward curricular goals and objectives. These activities can be monitored and recorded by teacher observation and student self-assessment.What are ways you could assess your students without using a formal test? ›
- Teacher Assessment. Questioning is an old, tried and tested method where teachers check children's understanding. ...
- Show & Tell. ...
- Personal Development Plans. ...
- ePortfolios/Digital Portfolios. ...
- Games. ...
- Authentic Challenges and Real-World Tasks. ...
- Project-Based Learning.
The informal assessment method is an intuitive assessment method where teachers do not evaluate student performances on some grade or metrics. Rather they focus on observing students' performances and progress at different stages of their learning time frame. It is conducted using various forms of evaluation.Which components can teachers assess informally? ›
- Grade level reading.
- Oral reading accuracy.
Essentially, informal assessment consists of quick tools to determine a student's level of understanding during the learning process. Another name for this is an informal formative assessment that measures student learning in real time, giving the teacher immediate information.What are some examples of formal and informal assessments? ›
There are two major types of formal assessment: norm-referenced assessments and criterion-referenced tests. Common types of informal assessments are Quizzes, writing samples, and assignments.How do you make an informal assessment fair and trustworthy? ›
- Don't rush. ...
- Plan your assessments carefully. ...
- Aim for assignments and questions that are crystal clear. ...
- Guard against unintended bias. ...
- Ask a variety of people with diverse perspectives to review assessment tools. ...
- Try out large-scale assessment tools.
Informal learning refers to learning that occurs away from a structured, formal classroom environment. Informal learning comes in many forms, including viewing videos, self-study, reading articles, participating in forums and chat rooms, performance support, coaching sessions, and games…How can teachers use informal assessment strategies for instructional planning? ›
With informal assessments, you can experiment with different materials, presentation of tasks, and modalities of responding to gauge how they engage with and respond to each. By tailoring your instruction to the elements that most interest your students, you are setting them up for success.What is informal performance assessment? ›
What is an informal assessment? An informal assessment is a feedback mechanism that can be spontaneously used to measure your performance. Informal assessments can also review the outlook of content you're producing for an employer and the action items set out for you to complete.How do informal assessments guide instruction? ›
Informal assessment information can help you decide the following: How to plan future instruction so that student needs are met. How students should be grouped for instruction so that each student receives instruction at the right level of difficulty. If instruction is being delivered at the right pace.Are worksheets informal assessments? ›
Types of formative assessment include informal observation, worksheets, pop quizzes, journals and diagnostic tests that enable the teacher to assess how students are performing and how well the particular lesson plan is working.How do you make an assessment Fun? ›
- Doodle Notes. Have students doodle/draw a pic of their understanding instead of writing it. ...
- Tripwire. ...
- Popsicle Sticks. ...
- Traffic Light. ...
- Venn Diagrams. ...
- Jigsaw Learning. ...
- One-Minute Write-Up. ...
- Historical Post Cards.
Alternative assessment tools: According to Simonson and others, there are three approaches in alternative assessment: Authentic assessment, performance-based assessment, and constructivist assessment.Are informal assessments formative? ›
Informal assessment is most often used to provide formative feedback. As such, it tends to be less threatening and thus less stressful to learners. However, informal feedback is prone to high subjectivity or bias. Formal assessment is data driven.How are informal assessments used? ›
Informal assessments are non‑standardized measures that are often personalized to the student. They can be given flexibly throughout the school year to provide a snapshot of a student's skill in a specific area at any given time.What is the main purpose of informal assessment? ›
The specific purpose of informal assessment is usually to use the information collected in order to set goals, identify intervention strategies, and measure intervention outcomes.
Informal assessments have the advantage of providing you and your students with a quick snapshot for making immediate decisions. They don't necessitate a lot of preparation, planning, or classroom time.What are three reasons to conduct informal assessments? ›
- Pre and Post Test Data. Informal assessments provide a easy and data driven way to show if a student is making progress. ...
- Present Levels. Present levels for report cards or IEPs have been my bane for years. ...
- Screeners. ...
- Goal Development. ...
The benefits of informal assessments are that they give you and students a quick glimpse for making immediate decisions. They don't take much prep, planning, or classroom time. These methods may be helpful if you want to decide which students will work with you that period, and which ones will work independently.What is an informal activity? ›
Informal economic activities can include doing odd jobs or providing services for which you are paid in cash. Examples include: home renovations, car repairs, etc.What is an informal lesson plan? ›
An informal plan is a plan frequently used by more experienced teachers on a daily basis to record 'planning thinking' and to guide them during the lesson to achieve their lesson aims. An informal plan consists of notes about the procedure the teacher plans to follow.Is discussion an informal assessment? ›
Class discussions force students to think, solve problems, listen to others, and even analyze other students ideas. This more informal type of assessment can be given in the form of a class participation grade for instance.What are some examples of informal assessments of prior knowledge that a teacher can easily use when a new topic is introduced? ›
- Self-questionnaire or checklist.
- Writing sample.
- Tests and quizzes made by the teacher.
- Grading assignments.
- Student created quizzes.
What are different child assessment methods? Methods of child assessment can be informal (conducting natural observations, collecting data and children's work for portfolios, using educator and teacher ratings) and formal (using assessment tools such as questionnaires and standardized testing).What are some examples of formal and informal assessments? ›
There are two major types of formal assessment: norm-referenced assessments and criterion-referenced tests. Common types of informal assessments are Quizzes, writing samples, and assignments.What is a informal assessment? ›
Informal assessments are non‑standardized measures that are often personalized to the student. They can be given flexibly throughout the school year to provide a snapshot of a student's skill in a specific area at any given time.
What are some examples of informal assessments of prior knowledge that a teacher can easily use when a new topic is introduced? ›
- Self-questionnaire or checklist.
- Writing sample.
- Tests and quizzes made by the teacher.
- Grading assignments.
- Student created quizzes.
Examples of formative assessments include asking students to: draw a concept map in class to represent their understanding of a topic. submit one or two sentences identifying the main point of a lecture. turn in a research proposal for early feedback.What is assessment through informal conversation? ›
Essentially, informal assessment consists of quick tools to determine a student's level of understanding during the learning process. Another name for this is an informal formative assessment that measures student learning in real time, giving the teacher immediate information.How can teachers use informal assessment strategies for instructional planning? ›
With informal assessments, you can experiment with different materials, presentation of tasks, and modalities of responding to gauge how they engage with and respond to each. By tailoring your instruction to the elements that most interest your students, you are setting them up for success.How do you make an informal assessment valid and reliable? ›
Informal techniques are valid if they measure the skills and knowledge imparted by the project; they are reliable if they measure consistently and accurately. "Formal" and "informal" are not technical psychometric terms; therefore, there are no uniformly accepted definitions.Which components can teachers assess informally? ›
- Grade level reading.
- Oral reading accuracy.
What does an Informal Observation entail? Informal observations can be as simple as watching a group of children during playtime or examining group dynamics within a classroom game.What is an informal activity? ›
Informal economic activities can include doing odd jobs or providing services for which you are paid in cash. Examples include: home renovations, car repairs, etc.What is informal activity in the classroom? ›
Informal learning refers to learning that occurs away from a structured, formal classroom environment. Informal learning comes in many forms, including viewing videos, self-study, reading articles, participating in forums and chat rooms, performance support, coaching sessions, and games…What is one way early childhood professionals can informally assess what a child comprehends during a read aloud? ›
The most common example of an assessment for fluency is to ask a student to read a passage aloud for one minute. Words that are skipped or pronounced incorrectly are not counted. The number of correct words read is counted and this total equals a student's oral reading fluency rate.
Types of formative assessment include informal observation, worksheets, pop quizzes, journals and diagnostic tests that enable the teacher to assess how students are performing and how well the particular lesson plan is working.What are examples of assessment activities? ›
- An open-ended question that gets them writing/talking. ...
- Ask students to reflect. ...
- Use quizzes. ...
- Ask students to summarize. ...
- Hand signals. ...
- Response cards. ...
- Four corners. ...
- Observations during in-class activities; of students non-verbal feedback during lecture.
- Homework exercises as review for exams and class discussions)
- Reflections journals that are reviewed periodically during the semester.
A Guide to Types of Assessment: Diagnostic, Formative, Interim, and Summative.