Embedding Formative Assessment: A Peek Inside the Black Box

  • Cathy Box


This chapter uses case studies of three secondary biology teachers to describe how context and timing are important in implementing formative assessment strategies in an appropriate manner. Putting theory into practice is a complex and illusive task, and we would be remiss if we did not look deeply at the context in which teachers work. All three teachers taught in the same school under similar conditions, but the environment seemed to have little effect over each teacher’s use of formative assessment. Rather, it was how they responded to environmental pressures, guided by their instructivist or constructivist leanings derived from internal constructs that seemingly had a profound influence on their practice. These case studies highlight the tendencies of teachers to make learning visible, their degree of responsiveness, and the degree to which they prompted students to take responsibility for their own learning and that of their peers. The narrative illuminates how traditional instruction leaves little time or space to implement the processes of formative assessment, thus the need for new instructional frameworks to support it.

Works Cited

  1. Box, C., Dabbs, J., & Skoog, G. (2015). A case study of teacher personal practice assessment theories and complexities of implementing formative assessment. American Educational Research Journal – Teaching, Learning and Human Development, 52(5), 956–983.Google Scholar
  2. Box, M. C. (2008). Formative assessment: Patterns, personal practice assessment theories, and impact on student achievement and motivation in science (PhD dissertation), Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX.Google Scholar
  3. Cuban, L. (2007). Hugging the middle: Teaching in an era of testing and accountability, 1980–2005. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 15, 1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Fox-Turnbull, W. (2006). The influences of teacher knowledge and authentic formative assessment on student learning in technology education. International Journal of Technology & Design Education, 16(1), 53–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Wilen, W. W. (1991). Questioning skills, for teachers. What research says to the teacher (3rd ed.). West Haven, CT: NEA Professional Library.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cathy Box
    • 1
  1. 1.Lubbock Christian UniversityLubbockUSA

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