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Session 2A


The Formative Assessment Toolkit

Professor Rachael-Anne Knight – Associate Dean | School of Health Sciences

Raf Benato – Lead for Teaching Excellence | School of Health Sciences

Dr Tamsin Callaghan – Senior Lecturer | School of Health Sciences

Thomas Hanley – Educational Technologist | LEaD

Gill Harrison – Lead for Teaching Excellence | School of Health Sciences

Janet Hunter - Lead for Teaching Excellence | School of Health Sciences

Dr Byki Huntjens – Lead for Teaching Excellence | School of Health Sciences

Peter Kogan – Senior Educational Technologist | LEaD

Lucy Myers – Lead for Teaching Excellence | School of Health Sciences

Sarah Ney - Educational Technologist | LEaD

Connie Tse - Educational Technologist | LEaD

Whilst there is some debate in the literature about formative assessment’s “status as an ethereal construct”, (Dunn and Mulvenon, 2009: 2), a common definition is as follows: “Assessment that is part of the learning process that provides constructive feedback to the learner; which allows students to improve their quality of work” (AdvanceHE, no date).  The introduction of formative assessment is not only viewed in a positive light by students (e.g. Yorke, 2003: 478), but also can produce “significant and often substantial learning gains” (Black and Wiliam 1998:3).

Support for students has become a renewed area of focus, both at City, University of London and across the sector, where metrics such as progression and continuation can act as levers to ensure best practice in teaching, learning, and assessment, potentially fulfilling the TEF’s aim to: ‘sharpen[s] the focus on teaching and outcomes that matter to students, by encouraging universities and colleges to deliver the best experience for their students’ (Office for Students, 2018, 1).

In the School of Health Sciences at City, we are committed to providing formative assessment for each assessment in our programmes, following the principles set out by Nicol and Macfarlane-Dick (2006). In order to support staff to design effective formative assessments, the Divisional Leads for Teaching Excellence, alongside LEaD, have developed a tool-kit of resources.  These resources cover several types of formative assessment, including in-class activities and those online, lecturer-reviewed and peer-reviewed activities, and activities related to both clinical and theoretical content.  The tool-kit provides summaries of research evidence, case studies of successful practice, and top tips for those introducing or enhancing their formative assessments.

This workshop will allow participants to critically explore the evidence for the effectiveness of formative assessment, view the tool-kit, making suggestions for further developments, and work towards enhancing their own use of formative assessment. As such, it will be applicable to any participants involved in teaching, assessment or supporting learning.

Participants will gain an evidence-based appreciation of the benefits of formative assessment, and practical suggestions for enhancing their use of formative assessment.

Indicative discussion questions:

  • What is the evidence that formative assessment supports student success?
  • How can we encourage students to undertake formative assessment when it does not count towards final grades?
  • How do we balance workload for staff when introducing formative assessment?
  • Can the formative assessment toolkit be expanded for other Schools?


AdvanceHE., (no date). Formative Assessment [online] AdvanceHE [Viewed 5 March 2019)] Available from:

Black, P., & Wiliam, D. (1998). Developing the theory of formative assessment. Educational Assessment, Evaluation and Accountability (formerly: Journal of Personnel Evaluation in Education)21(1), 5.

Dunn, K. E., & Mulvenon, S. W. (2009). A critical review of research on formative assessment: The limited scientific evidence of the impact of formative assessment in education. Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation14(7), 1-11.

Nicol, D. J., & Macfarlane‐Dick, D. (2006). Formative assessment and self‐regulated learning: A model and seven principles of good feedback practice. Studies in Higher Education. 31(2), 199-218.

Office for Students., (2018). Overview of the 2018 TEF [online] Office for Students [Viewed 5 March 2019] Available from:

Yorke, M. (2003). Formative assessment in higher education: Moves towards theory and the enhancement of pedagogic practice. Higher Education. 45(4), 477-501.