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Diagnostic, formative or summative? A guide to assessing your class

An introduction to three of the key forms of assessment along with how they can be applied in the classroom

Alejandra Govea Garza

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Forms of assessment and how to use them in university classes

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When it comes to evaluating students’ learning, teachers have a wide range of activities and methods at their disposal, although they must be sure to select the type of assessment that fits best with their instructional needs. Here, we present information about three key modes of assessment: diagnostic, formative and summative.

Diagnostic assessment

Diagnostic evaluations are typically short tests given at the beginning and/or end of a course that allow a teacher to gauge what students know about a topic. This information can be particularly useful at the start of a course because the teacher can then plan accordingly and make instructional changes or adjustments to the upcoming course.

This type of assessment does not typically count towards the final grade, and it can also be used as a metacognitive method so that students can become aware of their own knowledge level.

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Diagnostic assessments can come in many shapes and sizes. The most common is a standard quiz or test, and it is crucial to carefully select questions that provide a general overview of the course or topic. Alternatively, students could be required to design a mind map about a topic or participate in a one-on-one interview or group discussion.

Diagnostic assessment can also take the form of problem-solving, although this is a more difficult method to apply, since ascertaining students’ level can be harder when they have been asked to solve a specific problem or situation. When using problem-solving, the teacher should focus on what the students are doing well as they attempt to solve the problem while also identifying areas in which they are lacking.

Formative assessment

Formative assessment sees the teacher carrying out small evaluations frequently during the course to collect evidence of progress or areas of difficulty for each student. The types of assessment used here are typically low-stakes items of work such as quizzes, one-minute reflective writing assignments or group work.

Based on the information gathered, the teacher can provide feedback, try to improve performance, motivate and assist students, as well as make adjustments to teaching strategies if needed.

To give feedback, the teacher can use synchronous sessions in Zoom, Teams or Socrative, or they might record videos or audio with specific recommendations. They can also promote reflection through self and/or peer assessment using Teammates, Google Forms or Survey Monkey.

Some benefits of formative assessment are that it can encourage students to play an active role in their learning process and involve them in metacognition activities. It also promotes self-regulation and strengthens student autonomy at the same time as encouraging interaction between teacher and student.

Summative assessment

Summative assessment is typically carried out at the end of a teaching and learning process and is thus usually seen as the means to measure “how much” a student has learned on the course or module. In many cases, summative assessment takes the form of an original, written piece such as a narrative or analytical essay. Other options include: a performance-based assessment, in which learners are required to carry out an activity or task; oral assessment, where learners create and present an oral piece, such as a speech or presentation; or a standardised assessment, where learners take an exam based on the course or subject.

Benefits of summative assessment are that it provides a final grade for a learner, which is often required by the institution, and also gives learners something to aim for, which can keep them motivated. It can also help teachers identify weaker areas in the learning process and thus understand which topics need more attention based on student outcomes.

Across all three types of assessment a variety of online applications can be used. These include Genially, Wooclap, Google Forms, Quizlet and Socrative; with these apps you can easily create interactive activities, fro m multiple-choice quizzes to crossword puzzles and much more. 

The three different types of assessment are often useful and/or necessary at different points in the learning process to help teachers understand their students’ previous level, the knowledge they have at any given moment or what they have learned by the end of a course. These days, educators can take advantage of a variety of tools such as real-time polls, drag-and-drop interactions, branching dialogue simulations and more.

Finally, remember that it is important to let students know the types of assessment being used, the strategies and instruments through which their learning will be evaluated and how they can/will receive feedback or advice.

Alejandra Govea Garza, Adriana González Nava and Paulo Mendoza Rivera are instructional designers at the Monterrey Institute of Technology, Mexico.

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A Guide to Types of Assessment: Diagnostic, Formative, Interim, and Summative

formative summative diagnostic

Assessments come in many shapes and sizes. For those who are new to assessment or just starting out, the terms can be hard to sort out or simply unfamiliar. Knowing one type of assessment from another can be a helpful way to understand how best to use assessment to your advantage. In this guide to types of assessments, we will cover the different types of assessments you may come across: diagnostic, formative, interim, and summative.

Nature of Assessments

The multi-faceted nature of assessments means that educators can leverage them in a number of ways to provide valuable formal or informal structure to the learning process. The main thing to remember is that the assessment is a learning tool. What all assessments have in common is that they provide a snapshot of student understanding at a particular time in the learning process.

Reasonably so, when you were a K-12 student yourself, you may not have been aware of the variety of assessments that teachers leverage.  To the average student, or anyone who has ever been a student, the word ‘test’ has a pretty clear cut definition and it usually includes some level of anxiety and expectation about a final outcome.  But, to educators, tests – or assessments – are actually quite multi-faceted and have both formal and informal places throughout the learning process.

Different Types of Assessments

Assessments can run the gamut from start to finish when it comes to instruction. Think of it like a long distance race that has a start and finish line and many stations to refuel in between.  The race can be any instructional period of time, such as a unit, a quarter, or even the full year.  In this metaphor, the student is the runner and the teacher is the coach who is trying to help the student run the race as well as they possibly can.  Different assessments types, when utilized by the coach (teacher) in the right way, can help the runner (student) run the race better and more effectively.

Some assessments are helpful before the race even begins to help determine what the best running strategy is ( diagnostic ). Some assessments are beneficial during the race to track progress and see if adjustments to the strategy should be made during the race ( formative ). Some assessments are given to see if students in entire schools or districts, the entire running team, are moving forward and learning the material ( interim ). And some assessments are best at the very end of the race, to review performance, see how you did, and see how to improve for the next race ( summative ).

How to Use Assessments

Assessments help the teacher determine what to teach, how to teach, and in the end, how effectively they taught it. Assessments can run the gamut from start to finish when it comes to instruction. Think of it like a race that has a start and finish line and many stations to refuel in between.

If you have ever asked the question, “What is a formative assessment?” or have been confused by formative assessment vs. summative assessment or interim vs final, that’s OK! The Pear Assessment team is here to help!

What is a Diagnostic Assessment?

Are students ready for the next unit?  What knowledge do they already have about this topic?  Teachers who are curious about how much their class knows about a future topic can give diagnostic assessments before diving in.

Diagnostic assessments are pretests. They usually serve as a barometer for how much pre-loaded information a student has about a topic. The word diagnosis is defined as an analysis of the nature or condition of a situation, which is exactly how teachers tend to use them.

Diagnostic tests help to tell the teacher (and the student) how much they know and don’t know about an upcoming topic. This helps to inform the teacher’s lesson planning, learning objectives, and identify areas that may need more or less time spent on.

Components of a Diagnostic Assessment

  • Happen at the beginning of a unit, lesson, quarter, or period of time.
  • Goal of understanding student’s current position to inform effective instruction
  • Identify strengths and areas of improvement for the student
  • Low-stakes assessments (Usually do not count as a grade)

Difference Between Diagnostic and Formative Assessments

Though both diagnostic assessments and formative assessments aim to inform teachers to instruct more effectively, they emphasize different aspects.  Formative assessments are taken during a unit to assess how students are learning the material that the teacher has been teaching.  Diagnostic assessments come before this, analyzing what students have learned in the past, many times from different teachers or classes.  Both are very helpful for the teacher, and the results are used to identify areas that need more attention in future instruction.

Diagnostic Assessments Examples

At the beginning of a unit on Ancient Greece, a teacher may give a pre-test to determine if the class knows the basic geography, history or culture.  The class’ responses will determine where the teacher begins and how much time is dedicated to certain topics.  The teacher may learn from this diagnostic assessment that many students already have knowledge on cultural aspects of Greece, but know little about its history. From this, they may adjust the lesson plan to spend a bit more time on the history and origins of Ancient Greece and slightly less on culture.

Keep In Mind  

Another valuable use of a diagnostic pre-test is to give the students an idea of what they will have learned by end of the learning period.  When combined with a post test, their score on a pre-test will show students just how much knowledge they have gained.  This can be a powerful practice for building esteem in students.   In fact, some teachers even use the same pre-test and post-test to make this difference more evident. This strategy provides great data on how students have progressed is a sure-tell way to measure and analyze growth over the year.

The grading scale for a diagnostic assessment is usually not based on the number of correct answers and holds little weight for a student’s final grade. You might consider this type of test to be a low-stakes assessment for students.

Diagnostic Assessment Tools

Teachers use Pear Assessment to find or develop diagnostic assessments in a number of creative ways. Some teachers set up diagnostics in the form of introductory activities, classic multiple-choice assessments, or tech-enhanced “quizzes”. The automated grading feature of Pear Assessment  makes it easy to instantly know how much information the class as a whole already knows.

Access Free Diagnostic Assessments

Start off the year strong and know where student are at when they begin the school year. Access FREE grade level SmartStart diagnostic assessments for grades 3-12 ELA and Math. Click here to learn more and explore these diagnostic assessments and more in the Pear Assessment Test Library.

Screen shot of Pear Assessment's diagnostic window

What is a Formative Assessment?

How are students doing? Are they picking up the information they should be learning? Teachers who don’t want to wait until the end of a unit or semester use various tactics, like formative assessment, to “check in” with students and see how they are progressing.

What makes formative assessment stand out?

Formative assessment involves the use of immediate insights to guide instruction. If we break down the term, we see that “Formative” comes from Latin formare ‘to form.’  Assessment simply refers to an evaluation. Together the words “formative” and  “assessment” refer to a guiding evaluation that helps to shape something.  With formative assessment, teachers mold or form instruction to better suit student learning. To glean actionable insights, the best formative assessments are generally easy to implement and offer immediate results that lead to instant intervention or instructional adjustments.

Here’s how education academics Paul Black and Dylan William explain the differences between formative assessment and the general term “assessment”:

We use the general term assessment to refer to all those activities undertaken by teachers — and by their students in assessing themselves — that provide information to be used as feedback to modify teaching and learning activities. Such assessment becomes formative assessment when the evidence is actually used to adapt the teaching to meet student needs.

Another Way to Check-up on Everyone

One common way to think of a formative assessment is to think about “check-ups” with the doctor. During a check-up, the doctor assesses the status of your health to make sure you are on track and to identify any areas where you might need more attention or support. It can be used to promote healthy habits or catch symptoms of illness. If the doctor notices something amiss, they may ask you to exercise more or eat less sugar and more vegetables! The goal is to make strategic changes based on new insights. Similarly, formative assessment provides feedback to teachers, allowing them to “check-in” on how students are doing, or, to match this analogy, the “health” of learning!

Components that Define Formative Assessment

The main intent of formative assessment is to gather insight about student learning during a unit to track student progress and inform instruction.

Formative assessments usually comprise of the following key aspects

  • Low-stakes assessment
  • Goal of informing instruction
  • Gain insight on learning status
  • Helps identify knowledge retention and understanding
  • Daily, weekly, or otherwise frequent checks
  • Generally short and quick checks
  • Comes in many forms: quiz, exit ticket, artwork, venn diagram, game, presentation, etc.

Examples of Formative Assessment

Formative assessments could include benchmark tests, a class discussion, an “exit ticket” activity or any check-in the teacher conducts to see how much has been learned.  By taking a quick formative assessment, the teacher can see how much has been retained and then modify the upcoming lessons or activities to fill in the gaps or pick up the pace.  It allows, as the name suggests, a teacher to form or reshape the lessons as they go. Formative assessments can sometimes be called interim assessments.

As you might be able to tell, formative assessments come in many shapes and sizes. They are used by a teacher to assess, or diagnose, how much information has been learned at periodic times in the middle of a unit, subject or year. Formative assessments are the close cousin to diagnostic assessments (add link).

Formative assessments are used in the middle of a learning process to determine if students are maintaining the right pace.

The second trend driving formative assessments is the common-core style of standardized tests.  Many schools are using formative tests to help guide the preparation of their students for the formal spring testing season– a time when results have an important impact on the school, district, and even the state. These kind of high-stakes assessments, such as PARCC, SBAC, AIR, ACT Aspire, etc., are driving the need for formative assessments throughout the year.

Like diagnostic assessments, formative assessments are usually given “cold”, without prior access to the information, to get an accurate sample of what has been retained. Similarly, they most often carry little weight towards the student’s final grade.

Online Formative Assessment with Pear Assessment

Many teachers use online digital assessment to gain immediate insights into student progress so they can immediately adjust teaching strategies or intervene where needed. Online assessment autogrades so ultimately teachers are able to save time and spend more time focusing on strong and effective instruction.

Log onto Pear Assessment to access a wide number of online digital assessments in the public assessment library. You may notice that a significant portion of digital assessments in the library are dedicated to helping students prepare for spring testing. Many Pear Assessment Certified assessments are modeled after the tech-enhanced style of questions that are found on the spring assessments. Using these throughout the year helps students build a comfort level with tech-enhanced maneuvers that are key to success on spring tests.

Try out some online formative assessments created by teachers across the country. Assign them to your students or log in to Pear Assessment to create a free account and start making your own!

What is a Benchmark/Interim Assessment?

Are students within a whole school or district understanding the material? Where is there room for growth and how can instruction be improved? These are the types of questions that teachers and school leaders ask and hope to answer when giving benchmark exams.

Defining Benchmark Assessments

A benchmark exam is given across many classes, an entire grade level, a whole school, or across a district. The purpose of a benchmark exam is to understand if students have mastered specific standards and are ready to move on. Typically, benchmark exams are given to help students prepare for end of year state testing, like PARCC, AIR, SBAC, FSA, or PSSA.

It’s important to note that the terms “benchmark exam” and “interim assessment” are used interchangeably. They both are used to measure academic progress of large groups of students. Ideally, the results of a benchmark exam help teachers understand what lessons they need to reteach and which students need extra support. Beyond this, benchmark exams act as a “preview” to how a class, school, or district will perform on state tests or summative exams.

Components of a Benchmark Exam:

  • Help drive future instruction
  • Term used interchangeably with “interim assessment”
  • Given to many classes, a whole school, or across an entire district
  • Act as a “predictor” to state test scores

Is There a Difference Between Interim Assessment and Benchmark Exam? What About Formative Assessment?

There can be lots of confusion about the different types of assessments. It’s important to recognize these differences and understand how each type of assessment fits into the overall learning process of each student.

There is little to no difference between an interim assessment and a benchmark exam. They are both formal tests often given using technology, like Pear Assessment, to thoroughly and efficiently monitor student progress.

Benchmark exams are also formative in that they help teachers drive their future instruction. While traditional formative assessments are given in one class, benchmark exams are usually given across many different classes or across an entire school. The best benchmark exams give data quickly, so teachers can act on it. This is why digital assessment is great for benchmark exams

Online Benchmark Exams With Pear Assessment

Schools and districts across the country have turned to Pear Assessment Enterprise to administer their common benchmark exams. When benchmark exams are given online, the results are instant and the data can immediately be used to help teachers modify their future lessons. School leaders can set up the test quickly and easily; they even can tie every question to a state standard.

For example, at Burton School District in California, district leaders and teachers are able to push out districtwide benchmark exams without a headache. David Shimer, Director of Education Services at Burton Schools, explains, “I think the ‘aha’ moment was when, within a period of one week, we were able to get every student across the district logged in, have teachers get an assessment from their students, and as a district we were able to get the charts and graphs back in ways that allowed us to adjust instruction and training.”

What is a Summative Assessment?

How well did a student do in this class? Did they learn this unit’s material? When people talk about classic tests or finals, a summative assessment is normally the type of assessment they are referring to.

In this category of assessments, you’ll find the “Big Kahuna” of tests, such as the finals that we pull all-nighters for as well as the tests that get you into college or let you drive on the roads.  Summative assessments document how much information was retained at the end of a designated period of learning (e.g. unit, semester, or school year).

Components of Summative Assessments:

  • Evaluate learning/understanding at the end of a checkpoint
  • Normally help to determine students’ grade
  • Used for accountability of schools, students, and teachers
  • Usually higher stakes than other assessment forms
  • Preparation and review is helpful for best performance

Summative Assessment Examples

At the end of a semester or a school year, summative tests are used to see how much the student actually learned. It can be the midterm,  final grade, or standardized tests. The best summative assessments require a higher level of thinking that synthesizes several important concepts together.

In the traditional sense of the term, summative assessments are what we think of as the big end-of-the-year bubble-sheet or pen-and-paper finals. In the modern-day tech-enhanced classroom summative assessments are increasingly delivered online. Summative assessments can even take the shape of multi-media presentations, group projects, creative writing, plays or other hands-on projects that demonstrate a mastery of the material. In summative assessments, the scores tend to have a significant effect on the student’s final grade or whatever is designated as the measurement of success.

Summative Assessment Tools

Teachers use Pear Assessment’s multimedia function to create summative assessments that use video as a prompt.  The multimedia can engage students with audio and visual items and then requires the students to summarize their learning in a classic essay.  The result is a traditional, “classic” exam with sophisticated multi-media components.

With Pear Assessment’s standards-tied questions, teachers who give summative assessments can immediately identify if students mastered the concepts they needed to know.

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Teaching excellence & educational innovation, what is the difference between formative and summative assessment, formative assessment.

The goal of formative assessment is to monitor student learning to provide ongoing feedback that can be used by instructors to improve their teaching and by students to improve their learning. More specifically, formative assessments:

  • help students identify their strengths and weaknesses and target areas that need work
  • help faculty recognize where students are struggling and address problems immediately

Formative assessments are generally low stakes , which means that they have low or no point value. Examples of formative assessments include asking students to:

  • draw a concept map in class to represent their understanding of a topic
  • submit one or two sentences identifying the main point of a lecture
  • turn in a research proposal for early feedback

Summative assessment

The goal of summative assessment is to evaluate student learning at the end of an instructional unit by comparing it against some standard or benchmark.

Summative assessments are often high stakes , which means that they have a high point value. Examples of summative assessments include:

  • a midterm exam
  • a final project
  • a senior recital

Information from summative assessments can be used formatively when students or faculty use it to guide their efforts and activities in subsequent courses.

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Formative, Summative, and More Types of Assessments in Education

All the best ways to evaluate learning before, during, and after it happens.

Collage of types of assessments in education, including formative and summative

When you hear the word assessment, do you automatically think “tests”? While it’s true that tests are one kind of assessment, they’re not the only way teachers evaluate student progress. Learn more about the types of assessments used in education, and find out how and when to use them.

Diagnostic Assessments

Formative assessments, summative assessments.

  • Criterion-Referenced, Ipsative, and Normative Assessments

What is assessment?

In simplest terms, assessment means gathering data to help understand progress and effectiveness. In education, we gather data about student learning in variety of ways, then use it to assess both their progress and the effectiveness of our teaching programs. This helps educators know what’s working well and where they need to make changes.

Chart showing three types of assessments: diagnostic, formative, and summative

There are three broad types of assessments: diagnostic, formative, and summative. These take place throughout the learning process, helping students and teachers gauge learning. Within those three broad categories, you’ll find other types of assessment, such as ipsative, norm-referenced, and criterion-referenced.

What’s the purpose of assessment in education?

In education, we can group assessments under three main purposes:

  • Of learning
  • For learning
  • As learning

Assessment of learning is student-based and one of the most familiar, encompassing tests, reports, essays, and other ways of determining what students have learned. These are usually summative assessments, and they are used to gauge progress for individuals and groups so educators can determine who has mastered the material and who needs more assistance.

When we talk about assessment for learning, we’re referring to the constant evaluations teachers perform as they teach. These quick assessments—such as in-class discussions or quick pop quizzes—give educators the chance to see if their teaching strategies are working. This allows them to make adjustments in action, tailoring their lessons and activities to student needs. Assessment for learning usually includes the formative and diagnostic types.

Assessment can also be a part of the learning process itself. When students use self-evaluations, flash cards, or rubrics, they’re using assessments to help them learn.

Let’s take a closer look at the various types of assessments used in education.

Worksheet in a red binder called Reconstruction Anticipation Guide, used as a diagnostic pre-assessment (Types of Assessment)

Diagnostic assessments are used before learning to determine what students already do and do not know. This often refers to pre-tests and other activities students attempt at the beginning of a unit.

How To Use Diagnostic Assessments

When giving diagnostic assessments, it’s important to remind students these won’t affect their overall grade. Instead, it’s a way for them to find out what they’ll be learning in an upcoming lesson or unit. It can also help them understand their own strengths and weaknesses, so they can ask for help when they need it.

Teachers can use results to understand what students already know and adapt their lesson plans accordingly. There’s no point in over-teaching a concept students have already mastered. On the other hand, a diagnostic assessment can also help highlight expected pre-knowledge that may be missing.

For instance, a teacher might assume students already know certain vocabulary words that are important for an upcoming lesson. If the diagnostic assessment indicates differently, the teacher knows they’ll need to take a step back and do a little pre-teaching before getting to their actual lesson plans.

Examples of Diagnostic Assessments

  • Pre-test: This includes the same questions (or types of questions) that will appear on a final test, and it’s an excellent way to compare results.
  • Blind Kahoot: Teachers and kids already love using Kahoot for test review, but it’s also the perfect way to introduce a new topic. Learn how Blind Kahoots work here.
  • Survey or questionnaire: Ask students to rate their knowledge on a topic with a series of low-stakes questions.
  • Checklist: Create a list of skills and knowledge students will build throughout a unit, and have them start by checking off any they already feel they’ve mastered. Revisit the list frequently as part of formative assessment.

What stuck with you today? chart with sticky note exit tickets, used as formative assessment

Formative assessments take place during instruction. They’re used throughout the learning process and help teachers make on-the-go adjustments to instruction and activities as needed. These assessments aren’t used in calculating student grades, but they are planned as part of a lesson or activity. Learn much more about formative assessments here.

How To Use Formative Assessments

As you’re building a lesson plan, be sure to include formative assessments at logical points. These types of assessments might be used at the end of a class period, after finishing a hands-on activity, or once you’re through with a unit section or learning objective.

Once you have the results, use that feedback to determine student progress, both overall and as individuals. If the majority of a class is struggling with a specific concept, you might need to find different ways to teach it. Or you might discover that one student is especially falling behind and arrange to offer extra assistance to help them out.

While kids may grumble, standard homework review assignments can actually be a pretty valuable type of formative assessment . They give kids a chance to practice, while teachers can evaluate their progress by checking the answers. Just remember that homework review assignments are only one type of formative assessment, and not all kids have access to a safe and dedicated learning space outside of school.

Examples of Formative Assessments

  • Exit tickets : At the end of a lesson or class, pose a question for students to answer before they leave. They can answer using a sticky note, online form, or digital tool.
  • Kahoot quizzes : Kids enjoy the gamified fun, while teachers appreciate the ability to analyze the data later to see which topics students understand well and which need more time.
  • Flip (formerly Flipgrid): We love Flip for helping teachers connect with students who hate speaking up in class. This innovative (and free!) tech tool lets students post selfie videos in response to teacher prompts. Kids can view each other’s videos, commenting and continuing the conversation in a low-key way.
  • Self-evaluation: Encourage students to use formative assessments to gauge their own progress too. If they struggle with review questions or example problems, they know they’ll need to spend more time studying. This way, they’re not surprised when they don’t do well on a more formal test.

Find a big list of 25 creative and effective formative assessment options here.

Summative assessment in the form of a

Summative assessments are used at the end of a unit or lesson to determine what students have learned. By comparing diagnostic and summative assessments, teachers and learners can get a clearer picture of how much progress they’ve made. Summative assessments are often tests or exams but also include options like essays, projects, and presentations.

How To Use Summative Assessments

The goal of a summative assessment is to find out what students have learned and if their learning matches the goals for a unit or activity. Ensure you match your test questions or assessment activities with specific learning objectives to make the best use of summative assessments.

When possible, use an array of summative assessment options to give all types of learners a chance to demonstrate their knowledge. For instance, some students suffer from severe test anxiety but may still have mastered the skills and concepts and just need another way to show their achievement. Consider ditching the test paper and having a conversation with the student about the topic instead, covering the same basic objectives but without the high-pressure test environment.

Summative assessments are often used for grades, but they’re really about so much more. Encourage students to revisit their tests and exams, finding the right answers to any they originally missed. Think about allowing retakes for those who show dedication to improving on their learning. Drive home the idea that learning is about more than just a grade on a report card.

Examples of Summative Assessments

  • Traditional tests: These might include multiple-choice, matching, and short-answer questions.
  • Essays and research papers: This is another traditional form of summative assessment, typically involving drafts (which are really formative assessments in disguise) and edits before a final copy.
  • Presentations: From oral book reports to persuasive speeches and beyond, presentations are another time-honored form of summative assessment.

Find 25 of our favorite alternative assessments here.

More Types of Assessments

Now that you know the three basic types of assessments, let’s take a look at some of the more specific and advanced terms you’re likely to hear in professional development books and sessions. These assessments may fit into some or all of the broader categories, depending on how they’re used. Here’s what teachers need to know.

Criterion-Referenced Assessments

In this common type of assessment, a student’s knowledge is compared to a standard learning objective. Most summative assessments are designed to measure student mastery of specific learning objectives. The important thing to remember about this type of assessment is that it only compares a student to the expected learning objectives themselves, not to other students.

Chart comparing normative and criterion referenced types of assessment

Many standardized tests are criterion-referenced assessments. A governing board determines the learning objectives for a specific group of students. Then, all students take a standardized test to see if they’ve achieved those objectives.

Find out more about criterion-referenced assessments here.

Norm-Referenced Assessments

These types of assessments do compare student achievement with that of their peers. Students receive a ranking based on their score and potentially on other factors as well. Norm-referenced assessments usually rank on a bell curve, establishing an “average” as well as high performers and low performers.

These assessments can be used as screening for those at risk for poor performance (such as those with learning disabilities) or to identify high-level learners who would thrive on additional challenges. They may also help rank students for college entrance or scholarships, or determine whether a student is ready for a new experience like preschool.

Learn more about norm-referenced assessments here.

Ipsative Assessments

In education, ipsative assessments compare a learner’s present performance to their own past performance, to chart achievement over time. Many educators consider ipsative assessment to be the most important of all , since it helps students and parents truly understand what they’ve accomplished—and sometimes, what they haven’t. It’s all about measuring personal growth.

Comparing the results of pre-tests with final exams is one type of ipsative assessment. Some schools use curriculum-based measurement to track ipsative performance. Kids take regular quick assessments (often weekly) to show their current skill/knowledge level in reading, writing, math, and other basics. Their results are charted, showing their progress over time.

Learn more about ipsative assessment in education here.

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Learn about the basic types of assessments educators use in and out of the classroom, and how to use them most effectively with students.

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What Is Formative Assessment and How Should Teachers Use It?

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  • Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning
  • Instructional Guide
  • Formative and Summative Assessment

Assessment is the process of gathering data. More specifically, assessment is the ways instructors gather data about their teaching and their students’ learning (Hanna & Dettmer, 2004). The data provide a picture of a range of activities using different forms of assessment such as: pre-tests, observations, and examinations. Once these data are gathered, you can then evaluate the student’s performance. Evaluation, therefore, draws on one’s judgment to determine the overall value of an outcome based on the assessment data. It is in the decision-making process then, where we design ways to improve the recognized weaknesses, gaps, or deficiencies.

Types of Assessment

There are three types of assessment: diagnostic, formative, and summative. Although are three are generally referred to simply as assessment, there are distinct differences between the three.

There are three types of assessment: diagnostic, formative, and summative.

Diagnostic Assessment

Diagnostic assessment can help you identify your students’ current knowledge of a subject, their skill sets and capabilities, and to clarify misconceptions before teaching takes place (Just Science Now!, n.d.). Knowing students’ strengths and weaknesses can help you better plan what to teach and how to teach it.

Types of Diagnostic Assessments

  • Pre-tests (on content and abilities)
  • Self-assessments (identifying skills and competencies)
  • Discussion board responses (on content-specific prompts)
  • Interviews (brief, private, 10-minute interview of each student)

Formative Assessment

Formative assessment provides feedback and information during the instructional process, while learning is taking place, and while learning is occurring. Formative assessment measures student progress but it can also assess your own progress as an instructor. For example, when implementing a new activity in class, you can, through observation and/or surveying the students, determine whether or not the activity should be used again (or modified). A primary focus of formative assessment is to identify areas that may need improvement. These assessments typically are not graded and act as a gauge to students’ learning progress and to determine teaching effectiveness (implementing appropriate methods and activities).

A primary focus of formative assessment is to identify areas that may need improvement.

Types of Formative Assessment

  • Observations during in-class activities; of students non-verbal feedback during lecture
  • Homework exercises as review for exams and class discussions)
  • Reflections journals that are reviewed periodically during the semester
  • Question and answer sessions, both formal—planned and informal—spontaneous
  • Conferences between the instructor and student at various points in the semester
  • In-class activities where students informally present their results
  • Student feedback collected by periodically answering specific question about the instruction and their self-evaluation of performance and progress

Summative Assessment

Summative assessment takes place after the learning has been completed and provides information and feedback that sums up the teaching and learning process. Typically, no more formal learning is taking place at this stage, other than incidental learning which might take place through the completion of projects and assignments.

Rubrics, often developed around a set of standards or expectations, can be used for summative assessment. Rubrics can be given to students before they begin working on a particular project so they know what is expected of them (precisely what they have to do) for each of the criteria. Rubrics also can help you to be more objective when deriving a final, summative grade by following the same criteria students used to complete the project.

Rubrics also can help you to be more objective when deriving a final, summative grade by following the same criteria students used to complete the project.

High-stakes summative assessments typically are given to students at the end of a set point during or at the end of the semester to assess what has been learned and how well it was learned. Grades are usually an outcome of summative assessment: they indicate whether the student has an acceptable level of knowledge-gain—is the student able to effectively progress to the next part of the class? To the next course in the curriculum? To the next level of academic standing? See the section “Grading” for further information on grading and its affect on student achievement.

Summative assessment is more product-oriented and assesses the final product, whereas formative assessment focuses on the process toward completing the product. Once the project is completed, no further revisions can be made. If, however, students are allowed to make revisions, the assessment becomes formative, where students can take advantage of the opportunity to improve.

Summative assessment...assesses the final product, whereas formative assessment focuses on the process...

Types of Summative Assessment

  • Examinations (major, high-stakes exams)
  • Final examination (a truly summative assessment)
  • Term papers (drafts submitted throughout the semester would be a formative assessment)
  • Projects (project phases submitted at various completion points could be formatively assessed)
  • Portfolios (could also be assessed during it’s development as a formative assessment)
  • Performances
  • Student evaluation of the course (teaching effectiveness)
  • Instructor self-evaluation

Assessment measures if and how students are learning and if the teaching methods are effectively relaying the intended messages. Hanna and Dettmer (2004) suggest that you should strive to develop a range of assessments strategies that match all aspects of their instructional plans. Instead of trying to differentiate between formative and summative assessments it may be more beneficial to begin planning assessment strategies to match instructional goals and objectives at the beginning of the semester and implement them throughout the entire instructional experience. The selection of appropriate assessments should also match course and program objectives necessary for accreditation requirements.

Hanna, G. S., & Dettmer, P. A. (2004). Assessment for effective teaching: Using context-adaptive planning. Boston, MA: Pearson A&B.

Just Science Now! (n.d.). Assessment-inquiry connection. https://www.justsciencenow.com/assessment/index.htm

Selected Resources

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Northern Illinois University Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning. (2012). Formative and summative assessment. In Instructional guide for university faculty and teaching assistants. Retrieved from https://www.niu.edu/citl/resources/guides/instructional-guide

  • Active Learning Activities
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Formative and Summative Assessment

Assessment helps instructors and students monitor progress towards achieving learning objectives. Formative assessment is used throughout an instructional period to treat misconceptions, struggles, and learning gaps. Summative assessments evaluate learning, knowledge, proficiency, or success at the conclusion of an instructional period.

Below you will find formative and summative descriptions along with a diagram, examples, recommendations, and strategies/tools for the next steps.

Descriptions

Formative assessment  (Image 1, left) refers to tools that identify misconceptions, struggles, and learning gaps along the way and assess how to close those gaps. It includes practical tools for helping to shape learning. It can even bolster students’ ability to take ownership of their education when they understand that the goal is to improve learning and not apply final marks (Trumbull and Lash, 2013). It can include students assessing themselves, peers, or even the instructor, through writing, quizzes, conversation, and more. 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. 151). In the classroom, formative assessment centers on practice and is often low-stakes. Students may or may not receive a grade.

In contrast,  summative assessments (Image 1, right) evaluate student learning, knowledge, proficiency, or success after an instructional period, as a unit, course, or program. Summative assessments are almost always formally graded and often heavily weighted (though they do not need to be). Summative assessment can be used to significant effect in conjunction and in alignment with formative assessment, and instructors can consider a variety of ways to combine these approaches. 

Two diagrams showing the when, why, and how of formative and summative assessment. Formative: Help students to learn and practice, when - throughout the course, why - identify gaps and improve learning, how - via approaches that support specific student needs. Whereas, summative asses student performance, when at the end of an instructional period, why - collect evidence of student knowledge, skills or proficiency, how - via exit learning or a cumulative assessment.

Examples of Formative and Summative Assessments

Formative: l earn and practice.

  • In-class discussions
  • Clicker questions (e.g., Top Hat)
  • 1-minute reflection writing assignments
  • Peer review
  • Homework assignments

Summative: Assess performance

  • Instructor-created exams
  • Standardized tests
  • Final projects
  • Final essays
  • Final presentations
  • Final reports
  • Final grades

Formative Assessment Recommendations

Ideally, formative assessment strategies improve teaching and learning simultaneously. Instructors can help students grow as learners by actively encouraging them to self-assess their 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:

1. Keep clear criteria for what defines good performance

Instructors can explain criteria for A-F graded papers and encourage student discussion and reflection about these criteria (accomplish this through office hours, rubrics, post-grade peer review, or  exam/assignment wrappers . Instructors may also hold class-wide conversations on performance criteria at strategic moments throughout the term.

2. Encourage students' self-reflection.

Instructors can ask students to utilize course criteria to evaluate their own or peers’ work and share what kinds of feedback they find most valuable. Also, instructors can ask students to describe their best work qualities, either through writing or group discussion.

3. Give students detailed, actionable feedback

Instructors can consistently provide specific feedback tied to predefined criteria, with opportunities to revise or apply feedback before final submission. Feedback may be corrective and forward-looking, rather than just evaluative. Examples include comments on multiple paper drafts, criterion discussions during 1-on-1 conferences, and regular online quizzes.

4. Encourage teacher and peer dialogue around learning

5. promote positive motivational beliefs and self-esteem.

Students will be more motivated and engaged when assured that an instructor cares for their development. Instructors can design assignments to allow for rewrites/resubmissions in assignments to promote learning development. These rewrites might utilize low-stakes assessments, or even automated online testing that is anonymous, and (if appropriate) allows for unlimited resubmissions.

6. Provide opportunities to close the gap between current and desired performance

Related to the above; instructors can improve student motivation and engagement by making visible any opportunities to close gaps between current and desired performance. Examples include opportunities for resubmission, specific action points for writing or task-based assignments, and sharing study or process strategies that an instructor would use to succeed.

7. Collect information to help shape teaching

Instructors can feel free to collect useful information from students to provide targeted feedback and instruction. Students can identify where they are having difficulties, either on an assignment or test or in written submissions. This approach also promotes metacognition, as students reflect upon their learning. 

Instructors may find various other formative assessment techniques through  CELT’s Classroom Assessment Techniques .

Summative Assessment Recommendations

Because summative assessments are usually higher-stakes than formative assessments, it is especially important to ensure that the assessment aligns with the instruction’s goals and expected outcomes. 

1. Use a Rubric or Table of Specifications

Instructors can use a rubric to provide expected performance criteria for a range of grades. Rubrics will describe what an ideal assignment looks like, and “summarize” expected performance at the beginning of the term, providing students with a trajectory and sense of completion. 

2. Design Clear, Effective Questions

If designing essay questions, instructors can ensure that questions meet criteria while allowing students the freedom to express their knowledge creatively and in ways that honor how they digested, constructed, or mastered meaning.

3. Assess Comprehensiveness. 

Effective summative assessments allow students to consider the totality of a course’s content, make deep connections, demonstrate synthesized skills, and explore more profound concepts that drive or find a course’s ideas and content. 

4. Make Parameters Clear

When approaching a final assessment, instructors can ensure that parameters are well defined (length of assessment, depth of response, time and date, grading standards). Also, knowledge assessed relates clearly to the content covered in course; and provides students with disabilities required space and support.

5. Consider Anonymous Grading. 

Instructors may wish to know whose work they grade, to provide feedback that speaks to a student’s term-long trajectory. If instructors want to give a genuinely unbiased summative assessment, they can also consider a variety of anonymous grading techniques (see hide student names in SpeedGrader Canvas guide ).

Explore Assessment Strategies and Tools

Instructional strategies.

CELT’s online resources are organized to help an instructor sequentially work through the teaching process.

Learning Technology

A listing with applications that have been proven to meet the ISU’s security, accessibility, and purchasing standards.

Academic Integrity

Explore the following approaches and methods which emphasize prevention and education.

  • Nicol, D.J. and Macfarlane-Dick, D. (2006) Formative assessment and self‐regulated learning: a model and seven principles of good feedback practice. Studies in Higher Education 31 (2): 2-19.
  • Theall, M. and Franklin J.L. (2010). Assessing Teaching Practices and Effectiveness for Formative Purposes. In: A Guide to Faculty Development . KJ Gillespie and DL Robertson (Eds). Jossey Bass: San Francisco, CA.
  • Trumbull, E., & Lash, A. (2013). Understanding formative assessment: Insights from learning theory and measurement theory . San Francisco: WestEd.

Formative and Summative Assessment, by the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) at Iowa State University is licensed under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0 . This work, Formative and Summative Assessment, is a derivative of Formative and Summative Assessment developed by the Yale University Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning(retrieved on June 23, 2020) from https://poorvucenter.yale.edu/Formative-Summative-Assessments.

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A Quick Guide to Formative and Summative Assessment

Get an overview of the key differences between formative and summative assessments, as well as examples of when each type of assessment is most appropriate.

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Reliable, accurate, and student-centered assessments form the basis of effective instruction. While it’s easy to fall into a pattern of thinking of assessments as exclusively cumulative and formal, there are many ways to assess students throughout a course. Instructors can use a strategic combination of formative and summative assessments to measure learning outcomes, prepare students for success, and inform their own instruction.

In this quick guide, we delve into the nuances of formative and summative assessment — two evaluation approaches that hold significant implications for college professors aiming to optimize teaching and learning experiences. As you work to gauge student progress and adapt your teaching to an ever-changing educational landscape, knowing the differences between and use cases for these two approaches can be useful.

What do we mean by summative assessment?

Summative assessments are implemented at the conclusion of a learning cycle and are meant to evaluate the final product of teaching and learning.

Examples of Summative Assessments Include:

  • Final exams
  • Midterm exams
  • Term papers
  • Cumulative portfolios*
  • Standardised tests
  • Final Presentations*

*Can be assessed as formative at various points in the learning process

When Summative Assessments Are Appropriate: Use summative assessments to evaluate students’ final understanding and abilities at the conclusion of a learning cycle.

What are the key differences between formative and summative assessments?

To summarise, formative assessment and summative assessments differ in their primary objectives, timing, and the role they play in the learning process. Formative assessment aims to provide ongoing feedback to students during their learning journey, enabling them to identify strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement. It occurs throughout the learning process and is often informal, focusing on development and growth. In contrast, summative assessment usually occurs at the end of a learning period, such as a unit, course, or semester. Summative assessment can be more formal in nature and serves as a culmination of the learning experience, providing a snapshot of overall student understanding and performance.

Deciding How to Assess Your Students

If you’re unsure which assessment approach is appropriate, it might be helpful to start by thinking about where you are in the scope and sequence of your unit/course. Here are a few ways that you can assess students whether you’re at the beginning, middle, or end of your course. Always keep in mind the intent of your assessment.

  • Use formative assessment to identify pre-existing knowledge, opinions, and interests
  • To fully assess student understanding prior to the start of a new unit, a diagnostic assessment might be fitting
  • To determine whether students grasp a concept thoroughly enough to move on, or consider a reteach lesson → Formative
  • To gather information on student understanding, student interests, and student opinions to inform upcoming lessons → Formative
  • To mark the conclusion of a significant portion of the course of study and assess final understanding (midterms, unit exams) → Summative
  • To provide final guidance and support as students prepare for a conclusive project/exam/paper/etc. → Formative
  • To mark the conclusion of a unit and assess final understanding → Summative

It is important to note that formative and summative assessments work in tandem with one another to create a powerful feedback loop for educators and students. The intent of formative assessments is to prepare students for success — often on summative assessments. It can be valuable to design formative assessments with the summative in mind and vice versa.

Tools like Achieve and iClicker are valuable resources to personalize assessment and interpret the results. These research-backed systems provide synchronous and asynchronous options to receive student feedback, whether through surveys, polls, videos, animations, and more. With personalised, honest formative assessments, instructors can then set their students up for success on a summative assessment.

  • BC Campus - Assessment Types
  • Integrity vs. Quality of Assessments: Are They Compromised on the Online Platform?

Achieve -Macmillan Learning’s Digital Courseware Platform

Designed to foster engaged active learning in the classroom, Achieve complements your unique teaching style and course needs. Empower your students through enriching content, immersive assessment, and meaningful active learning experiences. Learn more about assessment in Achieve .

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A Primer: Diagnostic, Formative, & Summative Assessment

The article discusses the ‘assessment component’ of teaching and learning and outlines the purposes of assessment, along with the differences between diagnostic, formative, and summative assessment. 

The author includes the nine principals of good assessment practices as established by the American Association of Higher Education, as well as a brief overview of assessment sub-topics including authenticity, validity, and reliability.

The resource provides a basic introduction to types of assessment – diagnostic, formative, and summative -- and its place in education.  It is a useful overview to help new instructors understand and differentiate the role of the different types of evaluation in the classroom and their use. 

The resource does not guide instructors in how to use the assessment tools effectively; it only emphasizes that they need to learn to do so.  As a “primer” maybe that is enough.  

I believe the resource would be more valuable if the author made use of “The Purpose of Assessment” and “Principles That Guide Good Assessment” lists to describe the backdrop for assessments, rather than just leave them as a list.  It would help to drive the essay to its summary.  As is, it reads just like lists (purpose), lists (principles) and more lists (types of assessments, and factors).  It would be helpful to see the factors tied in more closely.  Fleshed out a little more, they would bring life and more value to the essay.

Practitioners in adult education – especially those with limited prior knowledge of the subject -- should welcome this as a very simple and readable set of definitions and principles related to assessment. It presents a clear and no-nonsense argument for the importance of greater practitioner understanding of, and engagement in, “good” assessment

But it is definitely a primer and does little more than introduce and argue. It would not be a resource, for instance, for teachers looking to learn about how to develop or implement assessment with students according to the cited principles.

I also find it curious that, while the author did cite some large-scale standardized assessments in his discussion of summative measures, he never addresses assessment as a tool for program/system accountability. Perhaps this is because his framework is K-12 and post-secondary ed? In any case this is without a doubt an important dimension and purpose of assessment for adult basic/literacy education practitioners!

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Formative and summative assessments.

Assessment allows both instructor and student to monitor progress towards achieving learning objectives, and can be approached in a variety of ways. Formative assessment refers to tools that identify misconceptions, struggles, and learning gaps along the way and assess how to close those gaps. It includes effective tools for helping to shape learning, and can even bolster students’ abilities to take ownership of their learning when they understand that the goal is to improve learning, not apply final marks (Trumbull and Lash, 2013). It can include students assessing themselves, peers, or even the instructor, through writing, quizzes, conversation, and more. 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. 151). 

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). 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. 

Examples of Formative and Summative Assessments

Both forms of assessment can vary across several dimensions (Trumbull and Lash, 2013): 

  • Informal / formal
  • Immediate / delayed feedback
  • Embedded in lesson plan / stand-alone
  • Spontaneous / planned
  • Individual / group
  • Verbal / nonverbal
  • Oral / written
  • Graded / ungraded
  • Open-ended response / closed/constrained response
  • Teacher initiated/controlled / student initiated/controlled
  • Teacher and student(s) / peers
  • Process-oriented / product-oriented
  • Brief / extended
  • Scaffolded (teacher supported) / independently performed 

Recommendations

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:

  • Keep clear criteria for what defines good performance - Instructors can explain criteria for A-F graded papers, and encourage student discussion and reflection about these criteria (this can be accomplished though office hours, rubrics, post-grade peer review, or exam / assignment wrappers ). Instructors may also hold class-wide conversations on performance criteria at strategic moments throughout a term.
  • Encourage students’ self-reflection - Instructors can ask students to utilize course criteria to evaluate their own or a peer’s work, and to share what kinds of feedback they find most valuable. In addition, instructors can ask students to describe the qualities of their best work, either through writing or group discussion.
  • Give students detailed, actionable feedback - Instructors can consistently provide specific feedback tied to predefined criteria, with opportunities to revise or apply feedback before final submission. Feedback may be corrective and forward-looking, rather than just evaluative. Examples include comments on multiple paper drafts, criterion discussions during 1-on-1 conferences, and regular online quizzes.
  • Encourage teacher and peer dialogue around learning - Instructors can invite students to discuss the formative learning process together. This practice primarily revolves around mid-semester feedback and small group feedback sessions , where students reflect on the course and instructors respond to student concerns. Students can also identify examples of feedback comments they found useful and explain how they helped. A particularly useful strategy, instructors can invite students to discuss learning goals and assignment criteria, and weave student hopes into the syllabus.
  • Promote positive motivational beliefs and self-esteem - Students will be more motivated and engaged when they are assured that an instructor cares for their development. Instructors can allow for rewrites/resubmissions to signal that an assignment is designed to promote development of learning. These rewrites might utilize low-stakes assessments, or even automated online testing that is anonymous, and (if appropriate) allows for unlimited resubmissions.
  • Provide opportunities to close the gap between current and desired performance - Related to the above, instructors can improve student motivation and engagement by making visible any opportunities to close gaps between current and desired performance. Examples include opportunities for resubmission, specific action points for writing or task-based assignments, and sharing study or process strategies that an instructor would use in order to succeed.  
  • Collect information which can be used to help shape teaching - Instructors can feel free to collect useful information from students in order to provide targeted feedback and instruction. Students can identify where they are having difficulties, either on an assignment or test, or in written submissions. This approach also promotes metacognition , as students are asked to think about their own learning. Poorvu Center staff can also perform a classroom observation or conduct a small group feedback session that can provide instructors with potential student struggles. 

Instructors can find a variety of other formative assessment techniques through Angelo and Cross (1993), Classroom Assessment Techniques (list of techniques available here ).

Summative Assessment   Because summative assessments are usually higher-stakes than formative assessments, it is especially important to ensure that the assessment aligns with the goals and expected outcomes of the instruction.  

  • Use a Rubric or Table of Specifications - Instructors can use a rubric to lay out expected performance criteria for a range of grades. Rubrics will describe what an ideal assignment looks like, and “summarize” expected performance at the beginning of term, providing students with a trajectory and sense of completion. 
  • Design Clear, Effective Questions - If designing essay questions, instructors can ensure that questions meet criteria while allowing students freedom to express their knowledge creatively and in ways that honor how they digested, constructed, or mastered meaning. Instructors can read about ways to design effective multiple choice questions .
  • Assess Comprehensiveness - Effective summative assessments provide an opportunity for students to consider the totality of a course’s content, making broad connections, demonstrating synthesized skills, and exploring deeper concepts that drive or found a course’s ideas and content. 
  • Make Parameters Clear - When approaching a final assessment, instructors can ensure that parameters are well defined (length of assessment, depth of response, time and date, grading standards); knowledge assessed relates clearly to content covered in course; and students with disabilities are provided required space and support.
  • Consider Blind Grading - Instructors may wish to know whose work they grade, in order to provide feedback that speaks to a student’s term-long trajectory. If instructors wish to provide truly unbiased summative assessment, they can also consider a variety of blind grading techniques .

Considerations for Online Assessments

Effectively implementing assessments in an online teaching environment can be particularly challenging. The Poorvu Center shares these  recommendations .

Nicol, D.J. and Macfarlane-Dick, D. (2006) Formative assessment and self‐regulated learning: a model and seven principles of good feedback practice. Studies in Higher Education 31(2): 2-19.

Theall, M. and Franklin J.L. (2010). Assessing Teaching Practices and Effectiveness for Formative Purposes. In: A Guide to Faculty Development. KJ Gillespie and DL Robertson (Eds). Jossey Bass: San Francisco, CA.

Trumbull, E., & Lash, A. (2013). Understanding formative assessment: Insights from learning theory and measurement theory. San Francisco: WestEd.

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Teach. Learn. Grow.

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Kathy Dyer

Understanding formative, interim, and summative assessments and their role in student learning

formative summative diagnostic

At its core, education is about the teaching and learning process. How do we teach the necessary literacies, content knowledge, critical thinking skills, ethics, and habits of mind deemed essential to prepare our children for productive, fulfilling, and engaged lives? How do we know whether students have learned what was taught and to what degree? Educational assessment strives to answer these questions, providing valuable insights on the degree to which the teaching and learning process succeeded.

That said, there is often confusion as to what types of assessments are administered when, what data they provide, and how they benefit teachers, students, and parents. Here’s a quick rundown on the three main assessment types and what they are used for.

Formative assessment guides learning

Formative assessment includes sharing learning goals, modeling what success looks like, and giving clear, actionable feedback to students. By design, formative assessment:

  • Has an explicit connection to an instructional unit
  • Consists of many kinds of strategies, and can be as informal as asking a well-crafted question – and using the evidence collected from the question
  • Helps educators guide the learning process, rather than measure student performance
  • Provides students with data they can use to determine where they are in their learning, set goals, monitor their learning progress, and serve as instructional resources for their peers

Summative assessment certifies learning

Generally, educators administer a summative assessment near the end of an instructional unit to help them answer the question, “What did students learn?” All sorts of different assessment instruments are used for summative assessment, including:

  • End-of-unit tests and end-of-course tests
  • Performance tasks/simulations
  • Oral examinations
  • Research reports
  • Standardized state summative assessments

Despite the array of possible summative instruments, it’s the state summative assessments that often come to mind. Federal educational policy requires data collected from these tests to be used for accountability purposes; other high-stakes are associated with summative assessment, such as selection, promotion, and graduation. Legislators also use state summative assessment data to communicate the state of education to the public.

Since summative assessment happens so late in the instructional process, the most effective use of its test data is more evaluative than instructional. For teachers, data can help guide decisions, such as assigning grades for a course, promotion to the next grade, graduation, credit for courses, and more. Summative assessment data also plays a role at the administrative level, where it’s for planning curricula, determining professional development needs, and identifying the resources and federal assistance the district needs to flourish.

Interim assessment guides and tracks learning

A wide middle ground exists between teachers’ day-to-day formative assessment of student learning and the formal protocols of state summative assessment. This middle ground offers opportunities—captured under the umbrella term interim assessment—to gather information about many things that are relevant to the teaching and learning process, including:

  • Individual and collective student growth
  • Effectiveness of teaching practices, programs, and initiatives
  • Projection of whether a student, class, or school is on track to achieve established proficiency benchmarks
  • Instructional needs of individual students

Educators can use interim assessments in a formative way to directly guide instruction. When this happens, data aggregation is considered the key difference between formative and interim assessment. This ability to aggregate data at critical points in the learning cycle allows interim assessment to have a broader set of purposes than both formative and summative assessment. As a result, interim assessment is the only type of assessment that provides educators with data for instructional, predictive, and evaluative purposes.

To understand the value of interim assessment, it’s helpful to understand its variety of purposes. One is to provide educators insight into growth patterns in student learning. Growth can be calculated from student achievement scores taken at logical intervals, such as fall to spring, or fall to fall, or whatever makes the most sense for the local district. Many educators use a fall-winter-spring schedule when administering MAP® Growth™ , our interim assessment. The seasonal system permits enough instructional time between test administrations to be able to calculate growth in learning with statistical confidence.

Another purpose of interim assessment is to help teachers make decisions around differentiating instruction. If the assessment is adaptive, those decisions can better serve all the students in the class—not only those who are ready to learn at grade level. Within any given classroom, teachers will have students who are ready to go deep with concepts, be challenged, and apply and expand their learning. Conversely, there will be other students who need to learn foundational concepts and skills before they’re prepared for grade-level concepts and skills. Interim assessment can help identify gaps so that all students have the opportunity to grow – no matter where they are starting.

These missing foundational concepts and skills may be from the previous grade, or even further back. The gaps provide an enormous challenge for teachers whose only information on their students relates to specific grade-level content. For the students who are ready to be challenged—what are they ready to be challenged by? And for the students who are not prepared to learn grade-level standards yet—where are they?

One way to answer these questions is via an adaptive assessment like MAP Growth . MAP Growth quickly and precisely targets every student’s level of achievement—including students performing at, above, or below grade level. Interim assessment does more than help teachers instructionally. It also supports students in looking at their own growth – where they are and want to go, what their goals should be, and what an action plan for learning looks like. The other purposes of interim assessment are predictive and evaluative. Its data can help educators predict student performance on important markers and evaluate whether teaching strategies, programs, and curricula are effective.

Our blog is full of rich information on both formative assessment and interim assessment, so be sure to have a look around.

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Summative vs Formative or Diagnostic Assessments

Summative vs Formative or Diagnostic Assessments

There are many kinds of assessments used in education to evaluate student learning, identify strengths and challenges, and aid in lesson planning, and they often take the form of online tools. This article will explore the strengths and weaknesses of some of these key methods of evaluation.

What are summative assessments?

Summative assessments help educators judge how a student is performing relative to other students at a point in time. These tests or evaluations provide evidence that students have met the learning outcomes of an instructional unit. This sort of assessment is common in education for evaluating students at the end of an instructional unit, typically in a high-stakes environment; some examples are chapter tests, midterm exams or finals, or a test to successfully complete a subject or grade. Sometimes rather than a test, a summative evaluation of a project or presentation meets the goal of assessing student achievement.

Types of Tests Video Thumbnail

Click here to watch a quick video on “Understanding the Different Types of Educational Assessments: Summative vs. Formative or Diagnostic.”

Summative assessments can also lead to surprise and disappointment if the results are not as good as expected. They don’t explain why a student is having trouble with a concept. It’s important to understand how two other types of assessments–formative and diagnostic–play helpful roles in setting and achieving those expectations so that a student can succeed.

There are several types of summative tests, but here are three common examples:

  • Benchmark Tests: Designed around a grade level in a specific learning area. The downside of a benchmark test is that it won’t tell you if students are many years above or below a specific grade level.
  • Lexile or Readability Tests: Used to determine the level at which a student can read text. These tests don’t reveal why a student is struggling, just where they are.
  • State Tests: Normed assessments and standardized tests that place students in a percentile relative to their peer group, typically from 0% to 100%–for example, the end-of-year Smarter Balanced tests . The downside of these tests is that they don’t provide much information about the needs of individual students or what you can do to help.

Why is your student struggling in math?

Formative and diagnostic assessments.

Formative assessments seek to immediately determine if a student has mastered a specific skill or concept that was just taught. It is a way of monitoring student progress and providing ongoing feedback, often with relatively short tests or weekly quizzes that quickly check students’ understanding of the curriculum along with their academic progress. Sometimes a formative assessment takes the form of a group presentation, a hands-on activity, or some other casual performance measure. Formative assessments given at regular intervals create a process by which educators can monitor how individual students are progressing towards standards.

Diagnostic assessments are broader in their measures than formative assessments because they are trying to determine why students are struggling or excelling in a particular skill, not simply where they are in the curriculum. Since diagnostic tests cover a greater range of skills and concepts, they usually take a little longer and go into more depth. But the resulting granular data from a diagnostic assessment provide the student and teacher with details about where the student is having trouble and which subjects are already mastered. This information helps a teacher understand what to do next with a student.

How do you target the right level of instruction for a particular student? You want to teach concepts that are not too easy for the student but also not too difficult. Students should be cognitively ready to learn the concept with the help of a teacher. The identified correct level of instruction is called the zone of proximal development, or ZPD . Diagnostic assessments are ideal for helping educators find the ZPD of individual students in a specific curriculum.

Together, by identifying each student’s level of understanding, formative and diagnostic assessments give educators a data-driven approach to helping students succeed. This is not only a valuable aid to teachers but a great way to augment feedback to students and families with quantifiable data.

Discover a student's Zone of Proximal Development in reading!

Sequenced skills.

Diagnostic assessment results should equip educators with the best information to find the zone of proximal development (ZPD) or instructional point for a student. First, diagnostic scores must be granular so that subjects are broken up into specific skills in which the student is struggling or excelling. These diagnostic scores must also be built on a scope and sequence, such as the skills involved in teaching phonics in a logical order. Sequenced skills build better comprehension and retention by providing multiple learning components in a structured order. Students with learning disabilities will especially benefit from sequenced skills.

There are several ways to tell whether an assessment is diagnostic or not. For instance, if you are using an assessment whose scores can be broken down further, or if multiple skills are represented by one result, then the assessment is not diagnostic because it’s not providing granularity. Furthermore, if those scores do not link to sequenced skills so that you know what should be taught next, then the assessment is not diagnostic.

Low Medium or High Scores

A diagnostic assessment will tell you clearly what should be taught next. For example, if your assessment looks at a student’s skills in phonics but provides an arbitrary scale with a simple result of “low,” “medium,” or “high” without linking to specific skills or concepts, then the assessment isn’t truly diagnostic.

An understanding of the different types of assessment used in education will allow you to choose the most appropriate assessment for the circumstances and thus better serve your students.

Misuse of the Word “Diagnostic”

Be wary of the misuse of the word “diagnostic.”  Many test developers will say that a test is diagnostic because it identifies a broad area of concern. If you can’t tell what to do next, it probably isn’t as diagnostic as you need. Also, be careful when assessments make assumptions. Reports from assessments that use words and phrases like “developmentally ready,” “likely,” or “could probably” may be inaccurately reporting a prescription for an individual student based on data from a large aggregate pool. These are probably not genuinely diagnostic assessments.  If a fifth-grade student had a non-mastery on a “place value” fifth-grade standard, a poor diagnostic report might read, “This student would likely benefit from expanded-form place value instruction.”  This means they didn’t test it but instead grabbed a concept or skill below the one that was missed.

Click below to view a video with a Visual Mapping of a Benchmark Test Against the Skills/Concepts of Foundational Mathematics

formative summative diagnostic

The first two minutes of this video will show you how math skills map across the K to 7 grade range and how benchmark testing works. At 3m 30s you see how a diagnostic assessment will assess dynamically across the K to 7 range.

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{{item.title}}, my essentials, ask for help, contact edconnect, directory a to z, how to guides, teacher standards and accreditation, approaches to assessment.

There are key similarities and differences between the 3 aspects of classroom assessment: assessment for learning (for teachers), assessment as learning (for students) and assessment of learning (for teachers).

There are 3 approaches to assessment that contribute as a whole to student learning:

  • assessment for learning
  • assessment as learning
  • assessment of learning.

These phrases are used instead of the older terms: diagnostic , formative and summative.

Assessment for learning

Assessment for learning involves teachers using evidence about students' knowledge, understanding and skills to inform their teaching. Sometimes referred to as ‘formative assessment', it usually occurs throughout the teaching and learning process to clarify student learning and understanding

Assessment as learning

Assessment as learning occurs when students are their own assessors. Students monitor their own learning, ask questions and use a range of strategies to decide what they know and can do, and how to use assessment for new learning.

Assessment of learning

Assessment of learning assists teachers in using evidence of student learning to assess achievement against outcomes and standards. Sometimes referred to as ‘summative assessment', it usually occurs at defined key points during a unit of work or at the end of a unit, term or semester, and may be used to rank or grade students. The effectiveness of this for grading or ranking depends on the validity and reliability of activities - and its effectiveness as an opportunity for learning depends on the nature and quality of the feedback.

Background to these 3 approaches

Traditionally, the focus of classroom assessment has been on assessment of learning - measuring learning after the fact, using the information to make judgements about students’ performances, and reporting these judgements to others.

During the 1990’s a groundswell of research emphasised the importance of assessment for learning (formative assessment). Teachers were using assessment for learning when they built in diagnostic processes, formative assessment, and feedback at various stages in the teaching and learning process. It was, however, often informal and implicit.

From the noughties onwards, assessment for learning was separated into assessment for learning, and assessment as learning, to emphasise the role of the student in the assessment process.

Systematic assessment as learning - where students become critical analysts of their own learning - is an important form of assessment that needs to go beyond incorporating self-assessment into teaching programs. It has become an assessment practice that is systematically used to develop students’ capacity to evaluate and adapt their own learning.

A teacher and his/her students need to know who reaches (and exceeds) important learning targets - thus … assessment of learning, has a place in teaching. Robust learning generally requires robust teaching … and assessments for learning are catalysts for better teaching. In the end, however, when assessment is seen as learning - for students as well as for teachers - it becomes most informative and generative for students and teachers alike. Tomlinson (2008)

Tomlinson (2008) summarises these approaches as:

  • informing teaching
  • informing learning
  • judging performance.

Regardless of the assessment approach, what matters most is how the information is used to improve student learning.

Making decisions about classroom assessment

When making decisions about classroom assessment, it's necessary to understand the key similarities and differences between the 3 approaches so they can be incorporated into the planning assessment strategies process. Considerations when planning assessment include:

  • what is the purpose?
  • what will be the timing and location?
  • what is being assessed?
  • how will the assessment information be gathered?
  • how will the assessment information be used?

Assessment for learning - by teachers

1. Purpose - for teachers to:

  • gather evidence to determine what students know and can do
  • decide where students need to go next
  • determine how best to get them there.

2. Timing: prior to, and frequently in an ongoing manner during instruction while students are still gaining knowledge and practising skills.

3. Strategies: a range of strategies in different modes that make students’ skills and understandings visible.

4. Use of information:

  • plan instruction and assessment that are differentiated and personalised
  • work with students to set appropriate learning goals
  • monitor students’ progress towards achieving overall and specific expectations
  • provide timely and specific descriptive feedback to students (what they are doing well, what needs improvement and how to improve)
  • scaffold next steps
  • differentiate instruction and assessment in response to student needs
  • provide parents/carers with descriptive feedback about student learning and ideas for support.

Assessment as learning - by students

1. Purpose - for students to:

  • gather evidence to monitor their learning
  • use a range of strategies to decide what they know and can do
  • identify next steps in their learning.

2. Timing: prior to, and frequently in an ongoing manner during instruction with support, modelling and guidance from the teacher

3. Strategies: a range of strategies in different modes that elicit students' learning and metacognitive processes.

  • provide descriptive feedback to other students (peer assessment)
  • monitor their own progress towards achieving their learning goals (self assessment)
  • make adjustments in their learning approaches
  • reflect on their learning
  • set individual goals for learning
  • report about their learning.

Assessment of learning - by teachers

1. Purpose: for teachers to gather evidence of student learning to assess achievement against outcomes and standards at defined key points.

2. Timing: at or near the end of a period of learning. May be used to inform further instruction.

3. Strategies: a range of strategies in different modes that assess both product and process.

  • summarise learning at a given point in time
  • make judgements about the quality of student learning on the basis of established criteria
  • assign a value to represent that quality
  • communicate information about achievement to students, parents, and others.
  • Ontario Ministry of Education (2014), Stiggins, Arter, Chappuis, & Chappius (2007) and Earl & Katz (2006).
  • Earl, L. & Katz, S. (2006). Rethinking Classroom Assessment with Purpose in Mind.
  • Ontario Ministry of Education (2014). Growing Success: Assessment, Evaluation and Reporting in Ontario's Schools.
  • Stiggins, R. J. & Arter, J. A. & Chappuis, S. & Chappius, S. (2007). Classroom assessment for student learning - Doing it right. Doing it well. New Jersey: Pearson Education Inc.
  • Tomlinson, C. A. (2008). Learning to Love Assessment. Educational Leadership, 65, 8 - 13.

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Initial Thoughts

Perspectives & resources, how can teachers systematically identify when to adjust instruction for struggling students, page 1: formative assessment.

  • Page 2: Progress Monitoring

How can teachers determine whether students are making appropriate progress?

  • Page 3: Select a Measure
  • Page 4: Create a Graph
  • Page 5: Create a Goal Line
  • Page 6: Administer, Score, and Graph
  • Page 7: Make Data-Based Instructional Decisions
  • Page 8: Communicate Progress
  • Page 9: References & Additional Resources
  • Page 10: Credits

Two boys reading book together

high-quality reading instruction

Effective reading instruction provided to all students in the general education setting using a standards-based curriculum and evidence-based practices.

Although perhaps not immediately intuitive, assessment is an integral part of this instruction. In general, assessment is the process of gathering information through methods both formal and informal to measure student performance. Used effectively, classroom assessment informs the ways in which educators approach and deliver instruction. Though some educators are concerned that assessments will take time away from instructional activities, in fact the opposite is the case. Classroom assessment can help educators plan instruction that more efficiently and effectively targets specific student needs, subsequently improving learning outcomes. The table below outlines the three most common types of assessment.

* This type of diagnostic assessment is not to be confused with individualized diagnostic assessment implemented after instruction with struggling learners or students with disabilities. This diagnostic assessment is used to understand why these students are not making adequate progress in certain skills and to subsequently inform the educator’s instruction.

Did You Know?

Federal laws, such as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) , encourage the use of formative assessment to improve student outcomes and to narrow learning gaps.

Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

Federal legislation passed in 2015 to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA, originally enacted in 1965) and replace the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB, the 2001 reauthorization of ESEA). This reauthorization, which was enacted in 2017, shifted accountability for standardized testing requirements to the states.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

Name given to the reauthorization of the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EHA) in 1990, which guarantees all students with disabilities the right to a free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment.

Each of the assessments described above serves an important, albeit very different, function in the instructional process. Read on to learn more.

Diagnostic assessments allow educators to collect information about a student’s strengths or weaknesses in a content or skill area prior to instruction. Educators can then use this information to more effectively plan instruction, making sure to address misunderstandings and to focus on skills or content the students have not mastered while avoiding covering topics with which they have already gained proficiency.

Formative assessments , which occur during instruction, allow educators to determine whether students are learning as the material is being taught. This deliberate process of assessing as learning is occurring allows educators to adjust instruction as needed to meet the learning needs of their students. More specifically, formative assessments:

  • Provide useful information about a student’s progress toward certain learning objectives, understanding of the skills or content being taught, and any misconceptions
  • Allow educators to make informed decisions about when to review or reteach content or skills or to adapt instruction
  • Help identify students who are consistently struggling

Research Shows

Formative assessment has been proven effective through many years of research and practical application.

  • Seminal research and subsequent reviews of research indicate that students whose teachers use formative assessment perform better on a variety of achievement indicators (including reading) than their peers whose teachers did not use formative assessment. (Black & Wiliam, 1998; Kingston & Nash, 2011; Hanover Research, 2014; Klute et al., 2017)
  • Formative assessment has been shown to improve the learning outcomes of students with disabilities, students who struggle, and English learners. (Madison-Harris & Muoneke, 2012)
  • Students monitor their own progress through self-assessment tools (e.g., rubrics)
  • Educators provide written feedback in a consistent manner
  • Educators adjust instruction based on assessment results

Summative assessments , which are usually one-time evaluations, allow educators to evaluate whether students have learned previously taught content or skills. On one end of the spectrum are common classroom assessments typically used for grading purposes (e.g., chapter tests, unit tests, research papers). At the other end of the spectrum are year-end achievement tests, which are given once a year, near the end of the school year. Although the results are usually not available for many weeks or months following administration, they provide an indication of a student’s overall progress for the year. As is typically the case for any type of summative assessment, educators do not have enough remaining time to implement instructional changes to remediate skills if they find that students did not perform well. 

As you learned in the Challenge, Ms. Chee wonders whether there is a way to quickly and systematically assess her students’ acquisition of reading skills to inform her instruction. This module will focus on formative assessment, something that will help Ms. Chee to accomplish her goal.

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  • Diagnostic and Formative Assessment

Diagnostic Pre-Assessments

formative summative diagnostic

Diagnostic assessments (also known as pre-assessments) provide instructors with information about student's prior knowledge and misconceptions before beginning a learning activity. They also provide a baseline for understanding how much learning has taken place after the learning activity is completed. Instructors usually build concepts sequentially throughout a course. For example, the Coriolis effect may be taught prior to a unit on ocean currents. A diagnostic pre-assessment given after the Coriolis effect activity but before the Ocean current activity will provide an opportunity to determine if students remember the concepts they need. If some students don't remember, then a refresher will make the Ocean current activity more meaningful to your students. Diagnostic assessment data may be gleaned from:

  • Summative assessments of the previous learning activity.
  • Short assessments that focus on key knowledge and concepts such as ConcepTests and Minute Papers ( more info )

Formative Assessments

formative summative diagnostic

Formative assessments take place during a learning activity to provide the instructor with information regarding how well the learning objectives of a given learning activity are being met. The value of formative assessment is pointed out by Black and William'(1998) paper "Inside the Black Box: Raising Standards Through Classroom Assessment" (Phi Delta Kappan, October 1998) They point to evidence that high quality formative assessment has a powerful impact on student learning. In addition, formative assessment is particularly effective for students who have not done well in school, narrowing the gap between low and high achievers while raising overall achievement. Most instructors intuitively use questioning as a method of formative assessment but in large lecture classes not every student can be questioned because of time constraints. Formative assessment is also useful in virtually all learning activities such as preparing oral and written reports, fieldwork and as projects and case studies progress. Here is an example of using on-going formative assessment in a large lecture course .

  • The Geoscience Concept Inventory WebCenter includes a collection of questions you can use for diagnostic or formative assessment.
  • Assessing How Students Learn is a short article that describes several methods for finding out what learning strategies your students are using.
  • Gather Evidence of Learning from the Lesson Study Project for College Teachers. This site describes how to gather evidence of student learning, thinking, and engagement in your classroom.

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  • The Functions of Assessment
  • Using Assessments to Evaluate Geoscience Courses
  • Using Assessments to Evaluate Geoscience Programs
  • How to Use Assessment Strategies
  • Assessment in Various Learning Settings
  • Campus Living Laboratory
  • ConcepTests
  • Conceptual Models
  • Cooperative Learning
  • Earth History Approach
  • Experience-Based Environmental Projects
  • First Day of Class
  • Gallery Walks
  • Indoor Labs
  • Interactive Lecture Demonstrations
  • Interactive Lectures
  • Investigative Case Based Learning
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formative summative diagnostic

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To Grade or Not to Grade (the Quiz): The Impact of Two Formative Assessment Grading Approaches on Summative Assessment Outcomes in an Integrated Pre-clinical Curriculum

  • Original Research
  • Published: 07 May 2024

Cite this article

formative summative diagnostic

  • Eileen Cowan   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-6677-416X 1 ,
  • Beth Altschafl   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-7908-7799 2 ,
  • Denise Barnes   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-9214-9608 2 ,
  • Michael Lasarev   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-1896-2705 3 ,
  • Erik A. Ranheim   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-5786-9327 4 &
  • Elaine Pelley   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0003-3454-1588 5  

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Introduction

Formative assessments have overall been shown to improve summative evaluations in medical education. However, it remains unclear if utilizing them for course credit in an integrated curriculum over multiple subspecialties is beneficial for student acquisition of knowledge. We set out to determine if grading formative quizzes had an effect on student acquisition of knowledge via summative assessments.

Materials and Methods

In 2020, quizzes remained mandatory, but were not graded for course credit. We collected and compared formative (quiz) and summative (unit exam) score data from student cohorts when quizzes were graded versus not graded. Medical college admission test (MCAT) score, gender, and underrepresented in medicine (URM) status data were utilized to determine if they had effects on outcomes. We used a predefined region of indifference (± 5%) and second-generation p -values to determine if there were meaningful differences in average summative exam scores.

Despite a drop in quiz scores after removing course credit, differences in average summative exam scores fully resided within the region of indifference for three of five course blocks, indicating no meaningful differences in summative exam scores existed for those blocks. In other blocks, the difference was not fully nested within the region of indifference; however, all data overlapped with this region, implying exam score differences were inconclusive for these blocks.

Conclusions

Our study demonstrates that there is either no meaningful effect on summative assessments or no conclusive detrimental effects when mandatory quizzes are not graded for course credit.

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Department of Pediatrics, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, WI, USA

Eileen Cowan

Academic Affairs, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, WI, USA

Beth Altschafl & Denise Barnes

Department of Biostatistics and Medical Informatics, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, WI, USA

Michael Lasarev

Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, WI, USA

Erik A. Ranheim

Department of Medicine, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, WI, USA

Elaine Pelley

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Contributions

All authors contributed to the study conception and design. Material preparation and data collection were performed by Eileen Cowan, Beth Altschafl, Denise Barnes, Erik Ranheim, and Elaine Pelley. Analysis was performed by Michael Lasarev. The first draft of the manuscript was written by Eileen Cowan and all authors commented on previous versions of the manuscript. All authors read and approved of the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Eileen Cowan .

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The University of Wisconsin-Madison Education and Social/Behavioral Science Institutional Review Board conducted a review of the study and it was determined to meet the criteria for exempt human subjects in accordance with the following category as defined under 45 CFR 46: Category 4: Secondary research for which consent is not required.

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Cowan, E., Altschafl, B., Barnes, D. et al. To Grade or Not to Grade (the Quiz): The Impact of Two Formative Assessment Grading Approaches on Summative Assessment Outcomes in an Integrated Pre-clinical Curriculum. Med.Sci.Educ. (2024). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40670-024-02046-4

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Accepted : 12 April 2024

Published : 07 May 2024

DOI : https://doi.org/10.1007/s40670-024-02046-4

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Out of the Centre

Savvino-storozhevsky monastery and museum.

Savvino-Storozhevsky Monastery and Museum

Zvenigorod's most famous sight is the Savvino-Storozhevsky Monastery, which was founded in 1398 by the monk Savva from the Troitse-Sergieva Lavra, at the invitation and with the support of Prince Yury Dmitrievich of Zvenigorod. Savva was later canonised as St Sabbas (Savva) of Storozhev. The monastery late flourished under the reign of Tsar Alexis, who chose the monastery as his family church and often went on pilgrimage there and made lots of donations to it. Most of the monastery’s buildings date from this time. The monastery is heavily fortified with thick walls and six towers, the most impressive of which is the Krasny Tower which also serves as the eastern entrance. The monastery was closed in 1918 and only reopened in 1995. In 1998 Patriarch Alexius II took part in a service to return the relics of St Sabbas to the monastery. Today the monastery has the status of a stauropegic monastery, which is second in status to a lavra. In addition to being a working monastery, it also holds the Zvenigorod Historical, Architectural and Art Museum.

Belfry and Neighbouring Churches

formative summative diagnostic

Located near the main entrance is the monastery's belfry which is perhaps the calling card of the monastery due to its uniqueness. It was built in the 1650s and the St Sergius of Radonezh’s Church was opened on the middle tier in the mid-17th century, although it was originally dedicated to the Trinity. The belfry's 35-tonne Great Bladgovestny Bell fell in 1941 and was only restored and returned in 2003. Attached to the belfry is a large refectory and the Transfiguration Church, both of which were built on the orders of Tsar Alexis in the 1650s.  

formative summative diagnostic

To the left of the belfry is another, smaller, refectory which is attached to the Trinity Gate-Church, which was also constructed in the 1650s on the orders of Tsar Alexis who made it his own family church. The church is elaborately decorated with colourful trims and underneath the archway is a beautiful 19th century fresco.

Nativity of Virgin Mary Cathedral

formative summative diagnostic

The Nativity of Virgin Mary Cathedral is the oldest building in the monastery and among the oldest buildings in the Moscow Region. It was built between 1404 and 1405 during the lifetime of St Sabbas and using the funds of Prince Yury of Zvenigorod. The white-stone cathedral is a standard four-pillar design with a single golden dome. After the death of St Sabbas he was interred in the cathedral and a new altar dedicated to him was added.

formative summative diagnostic

Under the reign of Tsar Alexis the cathedral was decorated with frescoes by Stepan Ryazanets, some of which remain today. Tsar Alexis also presented the cathedral with a five-tier iconostasis, the top row of icons have been preserved.

Tsaritsa's Chambers

formative summative diagnostic

The Nativity of Virgin Mary Cathedral is located between the Tsaritsa's Chambers of the left and the Palace of Tsar Alexis on the right. The Tsaritsa's Chambers were built in the mid-17th century for the wife of Tsar Alexey - Tsaritsa Maria Ilinichna Miloskavskaya. The design of the building is influenced by the ancient Russian architectural style. Is prettier than the Tsar's chambers opposite, being red in colour with elaborately decorated window frames and entrance.

formative summative diagnostic

At present the Tsaritsa's Chambers houses the Zvenigorod Historical, Architectural and Art Museum. Among its displays is an accurate recreation of the interior of a noble lady's chambers including furniture, decorations and a decorated tiled oven, and an exhibition on the history of Zvenigorod and the monastery.

Palace of Tsar Alexis

formative summative diagnostic

The Palace of Tsar Alexis was built in the 1650s and is now one of the best surviving examples of non-religious architecture of that era. It was built especially for Tsar Alexis who often visited the monastery on religious pilgrimages. Its most striking feature is its pretty row of nine chimney spouts which resemble towers.

formative summative diagnostic

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IMAGES

  1. Formative Vs Summative Assessment Comparison Chart

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  2. Formative And Summative Assessment: The Differences Explained (2022)

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  3. Formative and Summative Assessment

    formative summative diagnostic

  4. FORMATIVE , SUMMATIVE & DIAGNOSTIC EVALUATION

    formative summative diagnostic

  5. Types of Evaluation

    formative summative diagnostic

  6. Summative vs Formative or Diagnostic Assessments

    formative summative diagnostic

VIDEO

  1. DIAGNOSTIC ASSESSMENT, FORMATIVE A.SSESSMENT & SUMMATIVE ASSESSMENT

  2. Module 2 Lesson 1 Diagnostic, Formative and Summative Assessment

  3. Types OF Evaluation

  4. Measurement. Assessment and Evaluation in Education

  5. Types OF Evaluation

  6. 22 July 2023

COMMENTS

  1. Diagnostic, formative or summative? A guide to assessment| THE Campus

    Here, we present information about three key modes of assessment: diagnostic, formative and summative. Diagnostic assessment. Diagnostic evaluations are typically short tests given at the beginning and/or end of a course that allow a teacher to gauge what students know about a topic. This information can be particularly useful at the start of a ...

  2. A Guide to Types of Assessment: Diagnostic, Formative, Interim, and

    In this guide to types of assessments, we will cover the different types of assessments you may come across: diagnostic, formative, interim, and summative. Nature of Assessments. The multi-faceted nature of assessments means that educators can leverage them in a number of ways to provide valuable formal or informal structure to the learning ...

  3. Formative vs Summative Assessment

    The goal of summative assessment is to evaluate student learning at the end of an instructional unit by comparing it against some standard or benchmark. Summative assessments are often high stakes, which means that they have a high point value. Examples of summative assessments include: a midterm exam. a final project. a paper. a senior recital.

  4. Formative, Summative & More Types of Assessments in Education

    St. Paul American School. There are three broad types of assessments: diagnostic, formative, and summative. These take place throughout the learning process, helping students and teachers gauge learning. Within those three broad categories, you'll find other types of assessment, such as ipsative, norm-referenced, and criterion-referenced.

  5. Formative and Summative Assessment

    There are three types of assessment: diagnostic, formative, and summative. Diagnostic Assessment Diagnostic assessment can help you identify your students' current knowledge of a subject, their skill sets and capabilities, and to clarify misconceptions before teaching takes place (Just Science Now!, n.d.).

  6. Formative and Summative Assessment

    Formative and Summative Assessment, by the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) at Iowa State University is licensed under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0. This work, Formative and Summative Assessment, is a derivative of Formative and Summative Assessment developed by the Yale University Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning ...

  7. A Quick Guide to Formative and Summative Assessment

    To fully assess student understanding prior to the start of a new unit, a diagnostic assessment might be fitting; ... It is important to note that formative and summative assessments work in tandem with one another to create a powerful feedback loop for educators and students. The intent of formative assessments is to prepare students for ...

  8. A Primer: Diagnostic, Formative, & Summative Assessment

    The resource provides a basic introduction to types of assessment - diagnostic, formative, and summative -- and its place in education. It is a useful overview to help new instructors understand and differentiate the role of the different types of evaluation in the classroom and their use.

  9. Formative and Summative Assessments

    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. 151). In contrast, summative assessments evaluate student learning, knowledge, proficiency, or success at the conclusion of ...

  10. Understanding Formative, Interim, and Summative Assessments and Their

    A wide middle ground exists between teachers' day-to-day formative assessment of student learning and the formal protocols of state summative assessment. This middle ground offers opportunities—captured under the umbrella term interim assessment—to gather information about many things that are relevant to the teaching and learning process ...

  11. Summative vs Formative or Diagnostic Assessments

    Summative assessments can also lead to surprise and disappointment if the results are not as good as expected. They don't explain why a student is having trouble with a concept. It's important to understand how two other types of assessments-formative and diagnostic-play helpful roles in setting and achieving those expectations so that a student can succeed.

  12. Educational assessment

    Formative assessments can take the form of diagnostic, standardized tests, quizzes, oral questions, or draft work. Formative assessments are carried out concurrently with instructions. The result may count. The formative assessments aim to see if the students understand the instruction before doing a summative assessment.

  13. Formative vs. summative assessment: impacts on academic motivation

    Formative-summative assessment occurs in two primary forms: using a mock exam before the final or using the final exam before the retake. ... Tahir et al. stated that formative assessment is a diagnostic use of assessment that can provide feedback to instructors and learners throughout the instructional process. Marsh claimed that formative ...

  14. Approaches to assessment

    Approaches to assessment. There are 3 approaches to assessment that contribute as a whole to student learning: assessment for learning. assessment as learning. assessment of learning. These phrases are used instead of the older terms: diagnostic, formative and summative. Assessment for learning. Assessment as learning. Assessment of learning.

  15. PDF Formative Assessment, Diagnostic Assessment and Summative Assessment

    Formative Assessment, Diagnostic Assessment and Summative Assessment ... Formative assessment is, thus a two-way ongoing assessment process where faculty gather information on student performance while learning is in progress, and provide feedback to students based on faculty observations on how students can meet or exceed established program

  16. An introduction to formative and summative assessment

    Formative assessment. Formative assessment takes place on a day-to-day basis during teaching and learning, allowing teachers and pupils to assess attainment and progress more frequently. It begins with diagnostic assessment, indicating what is already known and what gaps may exist in skills or knowledge. If a teacher and pupil understand what ...

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    Page 1: Formative Assessment. Reading is not only a critical learning skill used across the whole academic curriculum (e.g., history, social studies, science, mathematics), but it's a critical life skill, used in countless facets of our daily lives and personal or professional interactions. Accordingly, students must begin developing ...

  18. A Primer: Diagnostic, Formative, & Summative Assessment

    A Primer: Diagnostic, Formative, & Summative Assessment. Introduction According to Kellough and Kellough, "Teaching and learning are reciprocal processes that depend on and affect one another. Thus, the assessment component deals with how well the students are learning and how well the teacher is teaching" (1999, p. 417).

  19. Diagnostic and Formative Assessment

    If some students don't remember, then a refresher will make the Ocean current activity more meaningful to your students. Diagnostic assessment data may be gleaned from: Summative assessments of the previous learning activity. Short assessments that focus on key knowledge and concepts such as ConcepTests and Minute Papers ; Formative Assessments

  20. Formative Assessment

    Formative Assessment refers to a variety of methods that educators use to conduct evaluations of student learning, comprehension, academic needs, and educational progress throughout a course or unit. Unlike summative assessments, which evaluate student learning at the end of an instructional period, formative assessments are ongoing and provide continuous feedback that can be used by ...

  21. To Grade or Not to Grade (the Quiz): The Impact of Two Formative

    Introduction Formative assessments have overall been shown to improve summative evaluations in medical education. However, it remains unclear if utilizing them for course credit in an integrated curriculum over multiple subspecialties is beneficial for student acquisition of knowledge. We set out to determine if grading formative quizzes had an effect on student acquisition of knowledge via ...

  22. PA Week 2 EDUC 5440 Assessment and Evaluation

    EDUC 5440: Assessment and Evaluation Unit 2: Portfolio Activity According to Wiliam(2000) in his work " Integrating Formative and Summative Functions of Assessment," there are four assessment functions that must be coupled to produce more reliable information for a variety of reasons. According to him, formative assessment has two purposes: It teaches students about their challenges and skills ...

  23. PDF z Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, Institutskii per. 9

    In what follows, we will measure the magnetic eld strength in units of Bc (1) and take the electron mass m, the Compton wavelength of the electron = ~=mc 3:86 10 11 cm, and its ratio to the speed of light =c 1:29 10 21 s as the units of mass, length, and time, respectively. Formally, this means that ~ = = c = 1.

  24. Elektrostal

    In 1938, it was granted town status. [citation needed]Administrative and municipal status. Within the framework of administrative divisions, it is incorporated as Elektrostal City Under Oblast Jurisdiction—an administrative unit with the status equal to that of the districts. As a municipal division, Elektrostal City Under Oblast Jurisdiction is incorporated as Elektrostal Urban Okrug.

  25. Federal Register, Volume 89 Issue 93 (Monday, May 13, 2024)

    The Department believes that proposed program requirements are aligned to 34 CFR 75.210 as evidenced by the requirement for Centers to develop and implement an effective performance management system that integrates continuous improvement and summative evaluation methods to monitor progress towards agreed upon outcomes, outputs, and milestones ...

  26. The flag of Elektrostal, Moscow Oblast, Russia which I bought there

    Its a city in the Moscow region. As much effort they take in making nice flags, as low is the effort in naming places. The city was founded because they built factories there.

  27. Savvino-Storozhevsky Monastery and Museum

    Zvenigorod's most famous sight is the Savvino-Storozhevsky Monastery, which was founded in 1398 by the monk Savva from the Troitse-Sergieva Lavra, at the invitation and with the support of Prince Yury Dmitrievich of Zvenigorod. Savva was later canonised as St Sabbas (Savva) of Storozhev. The monastery late flourished under the reign of Tsar ...