In short, formative assessment occurs throughout a class or course, and seeks to improve student achievement of learning objectives through approaches that can support specific student needs (Theal and Franklin, 2010, p. In contrast, summative assessments evaluate student learning, knowledge, proficiency, or success at the conclusion of an instructional period, like a unit, course, or program.
Summative assessments are almost always formally graded and often heavily weighted (though they do not need to be). Assessing Teaching Practices and Effectiveness for Formative Purposes.
Summative assessment can be used to great effect in conjunction and alignment with formative assessment, and instructors can consider a variety of ways to combine these approaches.
Formative Assessment Ideally, formative assessment strategies improve teaching and learning simultaneously.
Instructors can help students grow as learners by actively encouraging them to self-assess their own skills and knowledge retention, and by giving clear instructions and feedback.
Seven principles (adapted from Nicol and Macfarlane-Dick, 2007 with additions) can guide instructor strategies: (list of techniques available here). (2006) Formative assessment and self‐regulated learning: a model and seven principles of good feedback practice.
If assessment does not offer generalizable knowledge, does assessment produce meaningful knowledge about particular courses or programs? Leaving aside arguments about whether the blunt instrument of learning outcomes can capture the complexity of student learning or whether the purpose of an entire degree program can be easily summed up in ways that lend themselves to documentation and measurement, it is hard to see how assessment is giving us meaningful information, even concerning specific courses or programs.
First, the people who devise and administer the assessment have a stake in the outcome.
Even if you don’t establish a baseline, you might still be able to look at a capstone project and say that your students met the declared program-level outcome of being able to write a cogent research paper or design and execute a psychology experiment.
From an IRB perspective, however, this is not research.