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There are four types of assessments for each investigation:

  • A pre/posttest
  • A summative assessment
  • Formative assessments
  • Key Questions


The purpose of this short multiple choice test is to assess learning gains by administering the same test before and after the investigation. The file is downloadable and comes with an answer key.


The summative assessment is provided as a downloadable file that is separate from the investigation. The file includes the student assessment and a rubric and scoring guide.


There are lots of great ways to do formative assessment, and we want you to have the flexibility to use the methods you and your students are familiar with. In each investigation we identify some checkpoints—places where you may wish to pause to review your students’ thinking––and offer redirects or additional learning supports before proceeding to new learning in the next section.

The suggested checkpoints are places in the investigation where students should have acquired key skills and understandings needed in subsequent sections of the investigation. The checkpoints reference tables that pair key student understandings with questions or suggestions for assessment. Two versions of the table are provided, depending on if you wish to integrate formative assessment with the lesson phenomenon.

If you are new to formative assessment, here are some popular techniques:

The Center for Astronomy Education lists numerous classroom resources such as instructional strategies and question banks that can be used for formative assessment.

Page Keely has compiled creative and engaging formative assessment strategies in a series of books, such as Uncovering Student Ideas in Astronomy.

Key Questions

Perhaps you're looking for an alternative way to assess student understanding without having to read every question on a completed student answer sheet. The Key Questions table provides a short list of questions from the investigation that can be examined.