Assessment refers to the methods and tools that educators use to evaluate, measure, and determine the learning progress as well as skill acquisition among students. It plays a vital role in the education process as it is one of the ways that educators use to improve student progress and attainment Assessment can be categorized into two main types: summative and formative. Summative assessment is the most common and refers to the evaluation of student learning and knowledge and skill acquisition at the end of an instructional period (Taras, 2008). On the other hand, formative assessment are the evaluation tools that are used in identifying the struggles and learning gaps that students experience along the way so as to assess the effective methods that can be used to close these gaps (Andrade & Cizek, 2010). A combination of these assessments in the curriculum allows educators to utilize the strengths of each method and hence improve student's learning experience.
Summative assessments are the ones that are commonly used today in educational curriculums. They include things such as chapter tests, essays, and exams. Educators administer summative assessments after a certain period of learning with the aim of understanding how much the students have learned. The educator is the one who carries this type of assessment and can either chose it to be criterion-referenced or norm-referenced (Yorke, 2011). Criterion-referenced implies that the summative assessment will compare student outcomes to that of prescribed learning outcomes that the teacher has set. On the other hand, norm-referenced means that the teacher will compare student outcomes to that of others.
The information on how students have performed using summative assessment can be shared with parents, the school and other education professionals for various purposes (Hoover & Abrams, 2013). The performance outcomes can allow the better judgments about the performance of students as compared to set standards as well as measure their achievements for the purposes of reporting and accountability. Also, educational professionals can use the student performance outcomes for developing the curriculum to ensure that student's learning experience is improved. Indeed, these shows that summative assessment is an important part of the student learning experience.
Advantages of Summative Assessment
Summative assessment may not be necessarily fun both for the teachers and students. However, there are several advantages of this form of assessment. First, according to Taras (2008), summative assessment allows teachers to know what the students have understood for a particular learning period. Since summative assessment follows strategies for evaluation such as assignments, exams, and projects, it allows the teachers to make out what the students have understood about the subject from their performance. Another advantage of this form of assessment is that they allow teachers to make academic records of students (Looney, 2011). The teacher records the scores of the students' performance, and this can be used in the admission process in other institutions. For example, when records are made for high school students, colleges can use them to admit the most qualified students based on their performance in high school. Apart from the two, summative assessment also motivates students to work harder (Joughin, 2010). Since they measure student performance outcomes at the end of a particular academic period, summative assessments will make students put more effort into their studies so that they can demonstrate that they have understood the curriculum.
Other advantages of summative assessment include identification of weak areas by teachers, offers valuable insights into instructional design and assist in the evaluation of the performance of an educator. Summative assessment allows teachers to find weak areas by looking at results that are steadily low in certain areas. The teachers can then decide to utilize alternative methods that will likely improve the results. Also, summative assessment offers valuable insights into the instructional design as it allows realization of the effectiveness of a particular method hence shows areas that need improvement. Finally, with the performance of students, summative assessment offers supervisors a way in which they can realize how the teacher or education faculty has performed. In essence, it allows for the accountability of teachers. All these show that summative assessment has several advantages to the teachers, students, and education supervisors.
Disadvantages of Summative Assessment
Despite the advantages, summative assessment also has its disadvantages. One of the main disadvantages is that teachers will focus on teaching the students how they can pass the exams instead of allowing them to understand the content of a particular subject. In fact, according to the article "Too many teachers 'teaching to the test,'" many teachers have come under pressure to focus to the teaching of the test rather than focusing on student's understanding of the subject (Jozefkowicz, 2006). The main reason for such a scenario is that many schools focus on exam performance as a way of evaluating student's academic levels and this does not inspire learning after students have completed school. Thus, though summative assessment allows measurement of student performance either through criterion-referenced or norm-referenced method, they do not always paint a clear picture of the understanding of a subject since teachers may have focused on the tests rather than knowledge and skill acquisition.
Other disadvantages of summative assessment include deviation from the curriculum, late rectification, and biasness among others. Summative assessment may make teachers deviate from the curriculum in that they might want to focus on teaching to the test (Bond, 2009). Since performance is the one that is most important in summative assessment, the teachers may see it necessary to make students understand aspects of the course related to the tests and this is not in line with the objectives of education of allowing students to gain the knowledge and skills as well as have a deeper understanding of a particular subject area. Summative assessment also does not provide sufficient time for rectification (Taras, 2008). Since it focuses on performance at the end of an academic period, handling the hindrance or difficulties of the students in particular subject areas might be difficult since the academic period has ended. Finally, summative assessment may be biased (Taras, 2008). The biasness can occur mainly because there are limited means of expression and thus non-native speakers may face language and cultural barriers that may hinder them from understating certain questions. Additionally, students with disabilities may face pressure due to the testing conditions.
Effect of Summative Assessment on Student's Learning Experience
The advantages and disadvantages of summative assessment imply that it can have varied influences on student's learning performance. The positive influence of summative assessment includes: Encouraging student's self-reflection, provide detailed and actionable feedback to students, and promotion of positive motivational beliefs among others. On the other hand, the negative influences of summative assessment on student's learning experience include: having a shallow understanding of content due to focus on studying for tests and biasness towards students who are non-native speakers since they may not be able to understand certain questions. As such, it is important for educators to ensure that summative assessments are in alignments with the goals and objectives as well as the expected outcome of the instruction.
Unlike summative assessment which occurs at the end of a set point in an academic period, formative assessment occurs during lessons and thus allow teachers to evaluate student understanding of concepts regularly. Thus, while summative assessment focuses on the learning outcomes, formative assessment focuses on the learning process (Andrade & Cizek, 2010). Examples of formative assessment include discussions, personal responses and reflections, peer/self-assessment, constructive quizzes, and homework assignments among others.
The information obtained from formative assessments allows teachers to understand the learning progress of students and hence provide ongoing feedback with the aim of making students improve their learning. In essence, teachers use formative assessment for continuing planning of the learning process so as to achieve greater learning achievement (Andrade & Cizek, 2010). It is ongoing, and this requires the efforts of both the teacher and the student. The student is responsible for monitoring the learning process, clarifying outcomes and present evidence to the teacher. On the other hand, the teacher is responsible for informing the students of their targets, modify instructions when necessary, and involve the students in the assessments.
Advantages of Formative Assessment
The main advantage of formative assessment is that it allows teachers to assist students to develop the knowledge and skills about a particular subject. The teachers can identify the needs of students from self-assessments, peer reviews, and one-on-one interaction and this offers prompt and relevant feedback that allows students to align themselves better to achieve the educational goals and objectives (Bennett, 2011). Another advantage of formative assessment is that it allows for continuous improvements in students' acquisition of knowledge and skills. Unlike summative assessment, formative assessment occurs regularly as it is an ongoing process. The feedback is increased since the teacher is able to detect issues and conceptual errors early and guide the students in the process they should take (Dunn & Mulvenon, 2009). Other than these two, formative assessment also achieves successful outcomes for the students. This is because it employs several diagnostic tools that allow teachers to understand the needs of students who are struggling and offer assistance to them appropriately.
Other advantages of formative assessment are that it provides a clear picture of the position that students are in and allows students to set goals and plans on the educational outcomes that they would like to achieve (Black & Wiliam, 2009). Formative assessment provides a clear picture of the state of the student in that teachers can use a wide range of tools and take the time to understand the areas of difficulty for each student. As a result, the teacher is able to come up with appropriate methods that will allow the students to improve on the areas that they were once struggling in. With regards to setting goals and plans, teachers may assist students to improve based on pre-set goals and plans that cover the subject area. As a result, students will be able to have a better understanding of the subject at hand.
Disadvantages of Formative Assessment
There are several disadvantages of formative assessment. First, the process is usually a time-consuming and tiring process. Rather than occurring at a particular time in an academic period, formative assessment may occur daily, weekly, or monthly hence becoming time and resource intensive (Marzano, 2011). In fact, when using formative assessment, some teachers complain that they sacrifice a lot of time in the assessment process and this fear that they may not be able to finish the lesson. Another disadvantage of formative assessment is that it is low stake compared to summative assessment as causing the risk of students not taking it seriously (Marzano, 2011). Since s...
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