Formative VS Summative Assessments
As an Assessor, Tutor or Trainer, you may have heard the terms, formative and summative assessments. There are many forms of assessment and these are just two. These can be referred to as the assessment of learning and the assessment for learning. At some level, both happen with your students The key to a good assessment is to understand what each type is and what makes a formative and summative assessment. As well as building upon it to get the effectiveness of each method.
We’re going to go through what each one is, and what it means. In addition, give you some examples of different types of formative and summative assessments.
The main purpose of formative assessments is to monitor your students learning and to provide ongoing feedback to the learners. This is the assessment for learning. Properly designed, it can be an effective tool for students to identify their strengths and weaknesses. It can enable students to improve their self-assessment skills so that they manage their education in a less uncoordinated way.
Formative assessment happens day to day meaning learners and you can assess progress daily. It can begin with diagnostic assessments, by establishing what the learner already knows and if there are any gaps in skills or knowledge.
Additionally, formative assessments may be conducted by tutors, peers, or even by students themselves. They have low stakes and usually carry no grade. The lack of a grade can discourage some students from completing the task in its entirety or fully engaging with the content.
Both teachers and learners benefit from understanding what has been accomplished so far. Further formative assessments can indicate whether the learning needs to be reassessed and added to or extended.
Here are a few examples of formative assessments:
- In-class discussions
- Group work
- 1-Minute reflection tasks
- Homework assignments
- And questions
It is not uncommon for formative assessments not to be recorded at all. With the exception of lesson plans that contain any necessary next steps.
Alternatively, summative assessments sum up what a learner has achieved at the end of the allotted time, relative to the learning aims and the relevant national standards. Whereas, the period of time may vary, depending on what you want to find out.
The goal of summative assessments is to evaluate student learning, by comparing it against some standards or a benchmark. As a result, summative assessments are often given higher priority by students than formative assessments. As they come with a grade. By using the feedback from these assessments, you and your students can guide their efforts and guide their future learning.
There may be an assessment at the end of a topic, at the end of the term or half-term, end of the year or in the national curriculum case, at the end of a key stage. A summative assessment may be a written test, an observation, a conversation or a task. It could be recorded through a variety of things such as writing, photographs, visual media or audio recording.
It doesn’t matter what medium is used, the assessment will show what the learners have accomplished regardless.
Here are a few examples of summative assessments:
- Instructor-created exams,
- Standardised tests,
- Final projects,
- End-of-year essays,
- End-of-year reports
- And final grades.
On the other hand, there can be a reliance or fallback on summative assessments at the end of studying specific criteria. Which gives learners a grade, but can provide little feedback.
Achieving a balance between formative and summative assessments is really important. As formative assessments provide a highly effective and risk-free environment. In which students can learn and experiment. They also provide a great lead into summative, so long as the feedback is provided.
If you have any questions about formative or summative assessments, please don’t hesitate to contact our team at 01205 805 155 and we would be happy to help. Leave a comment on which assessment method is your favourite and why! We’d love to hear your thoughts.
Steve is a Chartered Manager and a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute.
He provides Educational Consultancy to the 19+ sector as well as being an Assessor, IQA, EPA and Digital Marketing Professional. When not doing any of these he finds time, every now and then, to write blogs and articles.