Formative assessment has recently become a preferred assessment strategy in educational institutions worldwide. However, it is not easy to implement in asian classrooms, because local cultures and institutional constraints potentially hinder the practice. This one-semester study aimed to use the third space, as the core of the third generation of activity theory, as a frame to capture how vietnamese teachers took into account both traditional practices and contemporary influences to transform formative assessment practices to make them feasible in their classrooms. Participants were 2 lecturers and 250 students from two college classes in vietnam. The results showed that vietnamese students conceptions of learning were heavily influenced by examinations and their traditional learning culture. Consequently, the teachers needed to transform the initiative to align with these features in vietnamese classrooms. When the revisions were made, the students were evidenced to achieve a growth in learning, change their beliefs about learning and develop both self-learning and collective learning. 2014 Taylor & francis.