A Tax Professor's Guide to Formative Assessment

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Heather M. Field


The ABA Standards now require formative assessment to be integrated into law school courses, and there is extensive literature, both in legal education and education more generally, about the goals and methods for formative assessment. This Article makes the key insights of that literature accessible and actionable for professors teaching tax courses. This crash course on formative assessment is intended to enable tax professors to integrate formative assessment into their classrooms effectively and efficiently without having to become legal pedagogy scholars in addition to being tax law scholars. The formative assessment techniques discussed herein range from those that require relatively little time and effort to those that may be particularly impactful but that require additional time and work. This Article also discusses strategies for reducing the burden of even the work-intensive approaches. Ultimately, by using numerous examples from basic federal income tax, corporate tax, and partnership tax courses, I hope to make it easier for tax professors to figure out which approach(es) to formative assessment is(are) likely to work best for their students, make it easier for tax professors to implement their chosen formative assessment techniques in their classrooms, and make it easier for tax professors to achieve their goals for their classes as successfully as possible, all at as little cost as possible.

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