Date Awarded

Summer 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)




Christopher R. Gareis

Committee Member

Leslie W. Grant

Committee Member

Lindy L. Johnson


Formative assessment’s evolution over the last 50 plus years has led to the ubiquitous use of the term and ostensibly its practice, yet very little research has specifically addressed teachers’ experiences of formative assessment, particularly in the realm of secondary English. This study’s goal, therefore, was to gain insight into how teachers experience engaging in formative assessment. By exploring their experiences, this descriptive phenomenological study sought to discover what meaning selected teachers ascribe to formative assessment and to thereby elevate teachers’ voices in the formative assessment conversation. This research question guided the study: What are secondary English teachers’ lived experiences of engaging in formative assessment? To answer this question, I generated data from 12 secondary English teachers by conducting in-depth, semi-structured interviews and collecting lived experience descriptions. Collectively, their experiences revealed that they practice formative assessment as a multi-step process, undertaken to determine where students are in their learning and to inform their instruction. They experience formative assessment as integral to their instruction and value informal formative interactions and conversations that are embedded in daily instruction. They consider positive class culture essential for undertaking formative assessment and have concerns that grading, district-mandated formative assessments, and the term itself may be impediments to effectively undertaking formative assessment. Ultimately, these findings offer strong support for the study’s conceptual framework; fill a gap in the formative assessment research; and offer policy makers, instructional leaders, and educational researchers insight into how these teachers understand and practice formative assessment.



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