What is qualitative formative assessment? Some call it anecdotal or informal assessment. However, such designations imply passivity — as if certain things were captured accidentally. I believe the word “formative” should always be included with the word assessment because all feedback mechanisms should help shape and improve the person (or situation) being assessed. Wedging the word “qualitative” into my terminology differentiates it from the analytic or survey-based measures that some associate with the term formative assessment.
For my purposes, qualitative formative assessment is the ongoing awareness, understanding, and support of learning that is difficult or impossible to quantify. An informal observation or the look on a learner’s face can inform a teacher about a student’s progress, yet such signals are challenging to capture or convey to the relevant agents (i.e., the learner, the teacher, or the parent).