How to Use Drawings for Formative Assessment in Electrical Engineering

Suppose you are a parent or a teacher looking forward to teaching your children in the best possible way in order to build their concepts rather than making them memorize little details; start using drawings for Formative Assessment!

A study has shown that if children, whether they are in high school or middle school, sketch out the things they learned, it helps the teacher analyze whether the child’s concept is clear or if he forgot one of the critical aspects of the topic. In a nutshell, It will give a clear understanding of what the children understand or what they don’t.

Teachers have started adapting formative assessment in order to get a hold of how well they are explaining the topic and how accurately the students are grasping the knowledge.

It helps the teachers to see the progress of their students, and it also enables the student to remember even the little details. Drawings don’t always have to be perfect; the students need to roughly sketch the ideas and concepts building inside their brains after going through a specific topic, whether it’s key details of two characters in a story that distinguishes one another or a flow diagram defining the relationships of those characters.

Students should be taught their way out of the concept that they can’t draw because all they have to do is put their ideas on a piece of paper, showcasing their conceptual power.

How to Use a Student’s Drawing to Form Instruction?

The responses a teacher gives to a student after viewing the drawing is as important as the drawing itself. It helps the student imitate the vocabulary they learned, and the teachers can give constructive criticism, which will help the student better understand.

When students draw as they explain the topic, it’s almost impossible for them to be correct. The minor mistakes pave the way for a better understanding of the topic and help memorize it for future references. Verbal discussion is also a part of formative assessment.

Still, sometimes it does not work because teachers fail to comprehend what the child is trying to explain in his own words or, the child fails to deliver his understanding in the form of verbal discussion.

Sometimes, the oral discussion also fails because some students are usually shy or have public speaking phobias or social anxiety, making it difficult for them to express their thoughts openly.

This is why drawing as a formative assessment is becoming more and more popular among students and teachers. There are some ways which you can teach the students to draw out their knowledge of the topic;

  • Drawing an image that constitutes the gravity of the situation, such as the relationship between protagonist and antagonist. Structuring an essay that has an argument style or simply drawing a limbic diagram.
  • Colour-symbol-line: You can choose a line, colour, or any symbol and allot it to your ideas. Make sure you remember your allotting and can explain it when needed.
  • You can also draw a sequential sketch, focusing on key details of the topics or making a flowchart.
  • Sketches can also include simple shapes representing particular aspects of the topic.

Strategies for Formative Assessment

Formative assessment may look like an easy job, but it requires skills and the right amount of patience to deal with students who may be slow learners. Many teachers are teaching different informational subjects, and it sometimes gets complicated for students to keep up with the number of things they are learning.

The best way to deal with this kind of stress is through formative assessments, which make the environment less stressful and kind of fun. One more thing a teacher should always be careful about is their constructive criticism.

It should be enough for the student to always pave the way for improvement rather than be hurt by how they draw or look at ideas in their head. If a student thinks he can’t draw nice, be nice to them and encourage them to draw however they want to draw.

This assessment is not being conducted to test their drawing but only to test their understanding of a particular topic. Some unique strategies can make your formative assessment successful. Some of them are:

  • Observation
  • Pairing and Sharing
  • Exit Notes 


One of the best parts about being in a classroom and conducting the formative assessment is to watch your students while they portray their thoughts on a piece of paper in their own beautiful manner. You watch them think about their own ideas, explore their insights and ultimately progress in their own time. They create things that may not even be in your head, and you are left amazed at their creativity. Their slight mistakes and how they cover them up and learn from them are all part of the observation you are supposed to do in order to make the best in their own way and help them break out of their shell by exploring themselves and their way of taking up knowledge.

Pairing and Sharing

Formative assessment can be done individually or in a group of students. It is believed one of the best ways a student can learn is by discussing the ideas among their peers. There are always some points that students grasp stronger than others, and they can come together, put down their ideas together and end up with the power of knowledge of more than one student. One thing should be made clear: there should always be room for consideration among students when they are being paired together for discussion or drawing for formative assessment.

They should not consider themselves superior and should always comprehend their partner’s point of view too. The pairing and discussion should always be done after the teacher’s artistic presentation or demonstration of the topic so that a student can always add up their own ideas.

Exit Notes


Another way to carry out a formative assessment is to take feedback from your students on whether they learned something valuable from your class or if they found your method of teaching easy or not.

The teachers should be prepared to take constructive criticism from their students and work on the details that their students missed out on. The proper way to take the feedback of your students is to hand them little notes at the end of the class to write their feedback. You can also create a digital note tool where they can type out their experience or paste sticky notes on the door where they can write about their experience before heading out. T

his will give you an idea if the students are grasping the knowledge well or where they are lacking. You can also make other students read it so that if they have missed out on a bit of detail in their own drawing, they can catch up by looking at their peer’s drawings or notes.

Importance of Formative Assessment:

Formative assessment helps to see what the students are thinking and find out the delicacy of what they do and do not understand so that in the next class, you could put on a solid foundation of the topics they find challenging to comprehend before taking up tests or preparing for tests.

Make sure you see what elements your student is overlooking or what they are misrepresenting. All these factors will result in a better learning experience.

Wasim Asghar – P.E, P.ENG, M.ENG

Licensed Professional Engineer in Texas (PE), Florida (PE) and Ontario (P. Eng) with consulting experience in design, commissioning and plant engineering for clients in Energy, Mining and Infrastructure.