ANS formative assessment in Mechanics

Activity: Talk or presentationTalk or presentation at a workshop, seminar, course or other meeting


On March 16th, PRIMECH hosted an event focused on effective formative assessment in Mechanics and how ANS can be used to achieve this goal. Our event featured two exceptional speakers, Tom van Woudenberg and Calvin Rans, who shared their valuable insights on their successful implementation of formative assessment strategies in first-year statics courses.

During their presentations, Tom and Calvin shared their methods of conducting formative assessment in their first-year statics courses, as well as their strategies for providing feedback to students.

Tom focused on students' self-assessment of non-numerical answers, providing them with a rubric that trains them on what is expected of them in the final exam.

Calvin explained his "honest attempt at solving the exercises" system, which encourages students to reflect on where they got stuck if they are unable to complete an exercise.

During the discussion afterwards, interesting questions were asked about the pros and cons of using variable numbers in Ans exercises, and the organisation and training of the TA's who grade the self-reflection sub-questions. If you missed it, the Collegerama recording of both presentations and Q&A is available. Both Tom and Calvin are available for further discussion on their systems and the use of ANS.

During the coffee break chats, we discussed the possibility of sharing question banks in ANS with other teachers. This idea was prompted by the reported need of teachers for developing assessments, which is one of the most time-consuming tasks. Sharing question banks could help to inspire each other on what types of questions to use for formative and summative assessments.

To facilitate this process, PRIMECH is attempting to develop a shared tagging system. During the event, participants were handed some exam questions, and were asked to select and come up with tags that they would use to look for those questions in a shared question bank. This resulted in a hugely varied approach, and many different tag ideas. We can conclude that there is still a long road ahead before we can reach a system that is intuitive to use for everyone.

We look forward to continuing the conversation on how to conduct formative assessment and how to share resources in the future.
Period16 Mar 2023
Degree of RecognitionLocal


  • Formative assessment
  • ANS
  • mechanics