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The first dimension of the FaSMEd framework specifies which agents are using formative assessment strategies in the classroom. The dimension is subdivided into the three categories: the individual student, peers and the teacher. The following quote by Black and colleagues (2004) stresses the importance of an active involvement of all the agents in formative assessment:

“An assessment activity can help learning if it provides information that teachers and their students can use as feedback in assessing themselves and one another and in modifying the teaching and learning activities in which they are engaged.” (Black et al. 2004, p.10)

The active involvement of students by peer and self-assessment is a key characteristic of formative assessment (Bernholt et al. 2013). It includes opportunities for learners to recognize, reflect upon and react to their own/ their peers’ work. This helps them to use metacognitive strategies, interact with multiple approaches to reach a solution and adapt responsibility for their own learning processes (Harlen 2007, Sadler 1989). Moreover, peer assessment can provide valuable information to the teacher about the students’ own ideas as they comment on their partner’s solution (Lindsay & Clarke 2001). Thus, learners become more autonomous and a collaborative classroom culture is created, in which students and their teacher develop a shared understanding of the learning intentions, criteria for success as well as current levels of understanding and what needs to be done in order to move learning forward.

Teachers can improve their formative assessment practices by making learning intentions and criteria for success explicit, rethink their questioning, involve students in fruitful classroom discussions, give effective feedback and engage students in peer and self-assessment (Wiliam & Thompson 2007). To learn more about how you can achieve this, involve your students in peer and self-assessment and put formative assessment into praxis, visit the professional development modules.


  • Bernholt, S., Rönnebeck, S., Ropohl, M., Köller, O., & Parchmann, I. (2013). Report on current state of the art in formative and summative assessment in IBE in STM-Part 1. ASSIST-ME Report Series, (1).
  • Black, P., Harrison, C., & Lee, C. (2004). Working inside the black box: Assessment for learning in the classroom. Granada Learning.
  • Harlen, W. (2007). Assessment of learning. Sage.
  • Lindsay, C., & Clarke, S. (2001). Enhancing primary science through self-and paired-assessment. Primary Science Review, 15-18.
  • Sadler, D. R. (1989). Formative assessment and the design of instructional systems. Instructional science, 18(2), 119-144.
  • Wiliam, D., & Thompson, M. (2007). Integrating assessment with learning: What will it take to make it work?. In C. A. Dwyer (Ed.), The Future of Assessment: Shaping Teaching and Learning (pp. 53-82). Yahweh,NJ:Erlbaum.

Formative assessment in Science and
Mathematics Education (FaSMEd)
The Research Centre for Learning and Teaching
Newcastle University