Distinguishing Between Formal & Informal Assessment

Formal vs Informal Assessment

Assessments are crucial tools that help teachers gain a deeper understanding of their students’ learning progress. They allow teachers to determine whether students are grasping the lessons, enabling them to make informed decisions. There are two main types of assessments: formal and informal assessments. Both types have their differences, making them equally essential to teachers and educators. Consequently, understanding the distinction between formal and informal assessment is vital.

What is Formal Assessment?

Formal assessments are structured methods of determining how much a student has learned or improved during an instructional period. These include exams, diagnostic tests, achievement tests, screening tests, and intelligence tests. All formal assessments have standardized procedures for administering the tests. They also have an official method of grading and interpreting those grades, allowing teachers to assess a student’s performance or skill level concisely. In a textbook, various exercises at the end of each lesson assess whether a student has understood the concept presented in the lesson and can solve problems based on the subject matter. There are correct or incorrect answer patterns, and a student is graded based on their answers in an answer sheet.

Students’ performance on formal assessment tools allows teachers to understand where the students stand compared to each other and the instructions given. These assessment tools also motivate students to achieve higher scores to be rewarded for their performance, which in turn encourages them to improve in the future.

What is Informal Assessment?

Informal assessment tools can evaluate students’ performance and skill levels without using standardized tests and scoring patterns. There are no standardized tools to measure or evaluate performance in these assessments. Examples of informal assessments include projects, experiments, and presentations given by students in classrooms and other platforms. Some also consider debating and peer teaching as informal assessments. One way to assess students’ skills is to ask them questions that they must answer in front of their peers.

What is the difference between Formal and Informal Assessment?

• Formal assessments evaluate students’ performance based on their grades in standardized tests, while informal assessments are qualitative and do not have standardized evaluation tools.
• Occasionally stopping during lectures and observing students to gauge their level of engagement can be a form of informal assessment, while tests, quizzes, essays, and lab reports remain essential formal assessment tools.
• Formal assessments are standardized and have evaluation criteria, while informal assessments are subjective, with no criteria for evaluating performance.

Some students become nervous when taking formal assessments and do not perform to their true potential. In contrast, others become anxious when a teacher suddenly asks them to answer. Therefore, teachers need a healthy mix of both assessment types to evaluate their students’ skills.

Key Takeaways

  • Formal assessments are structured methods with standardized procedures and grading, while informal assessments are qualitative and do not have standardized evaluation tools.
  • Examples of formal assessments include exams, diagnostic tests, and achievement tests, while informal assessments include projects, experiments, and presentations.
  • Teachers need a healthy mix of both assessment types to accurately evaluate their students’ skills.
Maria Nguyen
Maria Nguyen
Maria Nguyen is a talented writer with a flair for developing captivating content in a range of formats. Her commitment to thorough research and producing top-notch material has contributed to over 4 years of professional writing and editing experience. Outside of work, Maria finds pleasure in solitary activities and immersing herself in nature. Her introspective nature and passion for self-reflection inspire her creativity. She believes that spending time alone and observing the natural world can provide valuable insights and foster personal growth, broadening her perspective as a writer.


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