Category Archives: formative and summative assessment

Do we imply finality in the term “summative assessment”?

I am blogging to learn, not necessarily to share an idea. I am trying to work out these ideas in my head.

I once used the analogy that my “blog” is my formative assessment, and my book is my “summative” assessment.  When you look at the differences between these ideas.  I googled “Formative vs Summative Assessment”, and the first page that popped up in the search was this one, in which I screen captured the comparisons between the two ideas.

Screen Shot 2015-11-20 at 2.43.09 PM

Now there might be better definitions, but this is pretty much of a consensus of what the ideas mean.

So here is my struggle with this concept…I am still learning about the ideas that I discussed in the book and exploring the topic. I have actually created a guide that is meant to be updated with not only links from the book, but updated with new information that is valuable to each chapter. This means that not only can the reader get the most up to date information, but it challenges me to push my own learning.  I even explicitly discuss the idea that it is not meant to be the end of a conversation, but hopefully is the beginning.

Yet although the term “summative” usually means at the end of a certain time, does this term also imply that the learning is somehow done?  With content, the learning can be done. A student can recite dates of events and once that is shown, you can move on from that learning (especially since we can google and find that information later), but the process of learning is something that goes on and on; there is no true finality to it.

I am not proposing we change a terminology is widely accepted, but I think that it is important to discuss the term “summative” and think of what it says to our students and ourselves.  Learning is not something that you just finish in June.  It is an ongoing process and goes beyond simply “knowing”.