Formative Evaluation

Formative Evaluation

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Is a type of evaluation conducted during programme implementation to provide information that will guide programme improvement.[1] This type of evaluation typically focuses on determining whether a programme is being implemented according to plan. It also focuses on identifying obstacles, opportunities and mid-course corrective actions that are likely to increase the programme's chances of success. A formative evaluations is also referred to as process evaluation because it focuses on operations.[2] In effect, it is a structured way to provide programme staff with feedback which can be used to fine-tune the implementation of the programme and is most often for internal use.[3]

Gathering of information about learner knowledge acquisition during the progression of a course or program. It enables the trainer to determine the degree to which learners know or are able to do a given learning task, and to identify which part of the task learners don’t know or are unable to do. The Outcomes suggest future steps for teaching and learning. This assessment encompasses trainer observation, classroom discussion and analysis of learner’s work, including homework and tests. Assessments become formative when the information is used to adapt teaching and learning to meet learner’s needs. Formative assessment helps learners become aware of any gap that exists between their desired goal and their current knowledge, understanding, or skills, and guides them through actions necessary to obtain the goal. [4] The conduction of a formative evaluation requires the identification of specific characteristics related to the kind of information provided, the timing and the aim - the what, where and why one can find in the Formative versus Summative Evaluation table. Ideally, the two modes are complementary. Also, as noted in the table below, the process of formative evaluation may be an important component in summative evaluation.[5]. See also: Evaluation, Summative Evaluation.

Formative versus Summative Evaluation

Formative vs Summative Evaluation.png

Link icon.png Web Resources
Below you have a list of selected websites where you can find additional information:
Link Content Powerpoint presentation on designing and conducting a Formative Evaluation. Different methods of formative evaluation, including evaluation for your own teaching and distribution of short questionnaries to learners. How to do a formative evaluation: objectives and steps. Different types of formative evaluation, and a few evaluation questions and methods.


  1. United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA). Programme Manager's Planning Monitoring & Evaluation Toolkit, 2004.
  2. Imas Linda G. Morra, Rist C. Ray. The Road To Results; Designing and Conducting Effective Development Evaluations pp.9. The World Bank, Washington DC, 2009.
  3. Mathison, Sandra. Encyclopaedia of Evaluation, pp 160, Ed. University of British Columbia. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2005.
  4. (14 March 2008), (14 March 2008), (14 March 2008)
  5. (5 November 2008)