IMG_0115There are two main forms of assessment and it seems like both are being misused in the schooling system. The reason this misuse is happening is that many instructors are not interested in non-traditional appreciation of learners, such as competency-based assessment, which allows a student to be assessed based on their strengths and interests. It is like moving from asking a fish to climb a ladder to asking it to loop through a tank’s obstacle course! The two types of assessments that help instructors are formative and summarize assessments.

Formative assessments are mostly concerned with finding out how well the learners are learning and how effective the design of the course is based on their periodical, usually not graded, assessments – they are low stake. They can be in the form of a 2-3 line reflection on a lesson, quizzes and activities that put knowledge into action – such as a Trading Post action lesson for American History or World History classes. As long as the student advancement and course materials are under constant evaluation, formative assessment is happening!

Summative assessments, on the other hand, are more to look at the learning result. They are not ongoing but are more end of quarter/end of semester type of assessments – they are high stake. Recitals, midterms and showcases are common types. Unlike formative assessments, summative assessments can hinder a learner’s advancement/completion of a course.

One of my hopes for the future is to see more use of formative assessments in quantity AND effectiveness at the same time. Instructors should use results and not only assess learning but the material itself and their way of teaching. It is all like a web where each contributor relates directly to the other. Of any one of those is not strong, the web might not hold as well.


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