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Empowering Students with Formative Assessments for Reading Circles

Nae-Dong Yang
National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan


While summative assessment measures students’ achievement at the end of a course or unit of instruction, formative assessment evaluates students in the process of “forming” their competencies and skills. Previous research has suggested the potential of formative assessment in assisting students’ strategic or self-regulated learning and recommended its application in learning strategy instruction (Gu, 2019). This study explored how formative assessments employed with reading circles could help students in their self-regulated learning. The reading circles were adopted from literature circles, i.e., small, peer-led book discussion groups (Daniels, 2002). Since not all the reading is literature, the study used “reading circles (RC).” Altogether 30 college students taking a Freshman English class participated in the study. First, students formed seven groups of four to five, selected their reading, and rotated their roles: Discussion director, super summarizer, word wizard, creative connector, and illustrator/mapper. Then, they worked collaboratively in small group RC discussions and shared their discussion results with the class. Finally, these students completed their self and peer assessments of their RC performance. These assessments offered embedded opportunities for students’ regular reflection and inductive discovery of valuable strategies to improve their performance. The repeated measures ANOVA revealed significant progress in the three dimensions/phases—preparation, participation, and presentation—of students’ self-assessment of their performance during the six RC activities of the semester. What students gained from their formative assessments was discussed, followed by caveats and instructional suggestions.


formative assessment, self-regulated Learning, learning strategy instruction, reading circles

International Joint Conference of APLX, ETRA40, and TESPA 2023