Formative vs Summative Assessment
Formative assessment involves the evaluation of student learning over the course of time. Its fundamental purpose is to estimate students’ level of achievement in order to enhance student learning during the learning process. By interpreting students’ performance through formative assessment and sharing the results with them, instructors help students to “understand their strengths and weaknesses and to reflect on how they need to improve over the course of their remaining studies” (Maki, 2002, pg. 11).
Summative assessment is assessment that is implemented at the end of the course of study. Its primary purpose is to produce a measure that “sums up” student learning. Summative assessment is comprehensive in nature and is fundamentally concerned with learning outcomes. While summative assessment is often useful to provide information about patterns of student achievement, it does so without providing the opportunity for students to reflect on and demonstrate growth in identified areas for improvement and does not provide an avenue for the instructor to modify teaching strategy during the teaching and learning process (Maki, 2002). Examples of summative assessment include comprehensive final exams or papers.
It is important to recognize that both summative and formative assessment indicate the purpose of assessment, not the method. Different methods of assessment can either be summative or formative in orientation depending on how the instructor implements them. For additional information: Formative and Summative Assessment.
For methods of assessment visit: Creating Assignments and Exams.
Fischer, M.R., Jr. (n.d.) Student Assessment in Teaching and Learning. Retrieved [August, 6, 2019] from https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/student-assessment-in-teaching-and-learning/
Maki, Peggy L. “Developing an Assessment Plan to Learn about Student Learning.” The Journal of Academic Librarianship 28.1 (2002): 8–13. ScienceDirect. Web. The Journal of Academic Librarianship.
Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs)
"Classroom Assessment is a simple method faculty can use to collect feedback, early and often, on how well their students are learning what they are being taught. The purpose of classroom assessment is to provide faculty and students with information and insights needed to improve teaching effectiveness and learning quality. College instructors use feedback gleaned through Classroom Assessment to inform adjustments in their teaching. Faculty also share feedback with students, using it to help them improve their learning strategies and study habits in order to become more independent, successful learners.... Classroom Assessment is one method of inquiry within the framework of Classroom Research, a broader approach to improving teaching and learning."
----Angelo, T.A., 1991. “Ten easy pieces: Assessing higher learning in four dimensions.”
In Classroom research: Early lessons from success. New directions in teaching and learning (#46), Summer, 17-31.
Examples of CATs include the following:
The Background Knowledge Probe is a short, simple questionnaire given to students at the start of a course, or before the introduction of a new unit, lesson or topic. It is designed to uncover students’ pre-conceptions.
The Minute Paper tests how students are gaining knowledge, or not. The instructor ends class by asking students to write a brief response to the following questions: “What was the most important thing you learned during this class?” and “What important question remains unanswered?”.
The Muddiest Point is one of the simplest CATs to help assess where students are having difficulties. The technique consists of asking students to jot down a quick response to one question: “What was the muddiest point in [the lecture, discussion, homework assignment, film, etc.]?” The term “muddiest” means “most unclear” or “most confusing.”
The What’s the Principle? CAT is useful in courses requiring problem-solving. After students figure out what type of problem they are dealing with, they often must decide what principle(s) to apply in order to solve the problem. This CAT provides students with a few problems and asks them to state the principle that best applies to each problem.
Defining Features Matrix: Prepare a handout with a matrix of three columns and several rows. At the top of the first two columns, list two distinct concepts that have potentially confusing similarities (e.g. hurricanes vs. tornados, Picasso vs. Matisse). In the third column, list the important characteristics of both concepts in no particular order. Give your students the handout and have them use the matrix to identify which characteristics belong to each of the two concepts. Collect their responses, and you’ll quickly find out which characteristics are giving your students the most trouble.
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