Assessment: formative and classroom-based

Nikki Booth | View as single page | Feedback/Impact

From formative evaluation to formative assessment

It is widely accepted that Scriven was the first to use the term “formative” where its role was to evaluate the ‘on-going improvement of the curriculum’ (Scriven, 1967: 41). Two years later, Bloom applied Scriven’s definition to classroom-based testing: 

By formative evaluation we mean evaluation by brief tests used by teachers and students as aids in the learning process. While such tests may be graded and used as part of judging and classificatory function of evaluation, we see much more effective use of formative evaluation if it is separated from the grading process and used primarily as an aid to teaching (1969: 48).

The term “formative assessment” was initially used within higher education contexts in the United Kingdom where it was used to describe any sort of assessment leading up to the main one (Wiliam, 2014). Wiliam (2014) states that during the 1970s and 1980s, the terms “formative evaluation” and “formative assessment” were not subject to much research and when they were (for example, Fuchs and Fuchs, 1986), the general consensus was that they referred to procedures such as tests for informing future teaching.