Traffic light

A fast diagnostic tool to check students’ confidence in a particular concept/area

The Traffic Light is a fast diagnostic tool that can be used to check whether students feel they can apply (actually “do”) a concept/idea. The teacher can immediately see the results and adjust his/her teaching during the rest of the class or the following day based on the results provided.

Type of assessment

Formative assessment explores students’ learning development during the process; it is a form of feedback, reflection and quality assurance. 

How to Use

1. Provide red, yellow, and green coloured circles to students.

2. Pose a question:  Example: What is your ability to use the scientific method in conducting experiments on your own?

Explain to students that green would mean “I understand this well and could explain it to a friend”, yellow means “I think I understand, but I could not explain to someone else”, and red means “I don’t understand this yet”.

3. Ask students to hold up the coloured circle that corresponds to how confident they feel in answering the question posed.

4. Review the responses across the class and adjust approach accordingly.

When to Use

Traffic Light can be used as a rapid-response to indicate students’ confidence in a particular topic.  It can also be used in written form within a coursebook for students to reflect on their current knowledge of a particular topic.

References and additional information

See for further information, including a traffic light template and toolbox cards.

Regier, Natalie (2012) Book Three: Summative Assessment – 50 Ways to Gather Evidence of Student Learning. Regier Educational Resources.  Available from

Formative assessment
Physical display
Any time