Educational Psychology Review

, Volume 24, Issue 2, pp 205–249 | Cite as

Formative Assessment: Assessment Is for Self-regulated Learning

  • Ian Clark


The article draws from 199 sources on assessment, learning, and motivation to present a detailed decomposition of the values, theories, and goals of formative assessment. This article will discuss the extent to which formative feedback actualizes and reinforces self-regulated learning (SRL) strategies among students. Theoreticians agree that SRL is predictive of improved academic outcomes and motivation because students acquire the adaptive and autonomous learning characteristics required for an enhanced engagement with the learning process and subsequent successful performance. The theory of formative assessment is found to be a unifying theory of instruction, which guides practice and improves the learning process by developing SRL strategies among learners. In a postmodern era characterized by rapid technical and scientific advance and obsolescence, there is a growing emphasis on the acquisition of learning strategies which people may rely on across the entire span of their life. Research consistently finds that the self-regulation of cognitive and affective states supports the drive for lifelong learning by: enhancing the motivational disposition to learn, enriching reasoning, refining meta-cognitive skills, and improving performance outcomes. The specific purposes of the article are to provide practitioners, administrators and policy-makers with: (a) an account of the very extensive conceptual territory that is the ‘theory of formative assessment’ and (b) how the goals of formative feedback operate to reveal recondite learning processes, thereby reinforcing SRL strategies which support learning, improve outcomes and actualize the drive for lifelong learning.


Formative assessment Feedback Self-regulated learning SRL Meta-cognition Social cognitive theory (SCT) Social context Sociocultural Lifelong learning Collective efficacy Self-efficacy Achievement Motivation Autonomy 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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