Teachers can assess students by asking questions during a lesson, having students reflect on a lesson in a class discussion or in writing, checking homework, giving quizzes and tests, and assigning projects that require students to synthesize and apply the learning. Oral exercises, written reports, multimedia presentations, science experiments and games also provide assessment opportunities.
Formative assessments check whether students understand the lesson material and determine whether the teacher moves forward, re-teaches the concepts to the class or assists individual students having trouble. Some examples are homework and class discussions. A summative assessment such as a final exam or capstone project verifies student mastery of a unit or course. A test or project may fall into either category.
An in-class reflection or homework assignment that makes up only a small percentage of a student's grade is a low-stakes assessment. A term paper, major exam or presentation that makes up a significant portion of the course grade is high stakes. Other assessments fall somewhere between these. When a teacher uses a mix of low-, medium- and high-stakes assessment methods, it gives students a chance to practice their learning before their performance counts towards the course grade.
Teachers may structure assessments according to a hierarchy of learning such as Bloom's Taxonomy. For the most basic level of this hierarchy, Knowledge, teachers might ask questions, administer quizzes or play games in which students exhibit rote knowledge of facts such as spelling words or historical dates. For the Comprehension level, students must apply concepts or procedures in assessments such as solving math problems or writing interpretive papers.
Assessments for a higher level of learning, Synthesis, require students to construct, design or formulate new objects or patterns from the learning. Small-group discussions, building a model and giving a presentation are typical assessments for Synthesis.