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Sophie-Anne Lalonde Leblanc

EDUC 5913
February 12, 2015
Formative and Summative Assessment: Students' Learning Improved
Proper and effective assessment is a result of many different strategies used in the classroom to
benefit each students at an individual level. Formative and benchmark assessments are the two main
types of assessment teachers use in the classroom to retrieve data on student learning throughout the
school year (Government of NB). Formative assessments are also called assessments for and as
learning while summative assessments are called assessments of learning. These different types
constitute a balanced and effective way of measuring students' learning and improvement.
Formative Assessment
Formative assessment should be used during various stages of instruction to help for a better
understanding of students' needs in the classroom. This type of assessment should be used to plan for
future lessons. A pre-assessment will help the teacher find out the level of understanding of students
before planning their lesson. This allows teachers to clarify the goals of the lessons with the students,
ensuring that they know what is asked of them. By doing this, teachers are better able to make changes
to better direct the teaching to everyone's abilities. With pre-assessment, students will be able to start
thinking about the subject in question in a way that allows them to understand what they already know
and what they have to learn. This will also help reduce the level of stress students may feel when
beginning a new concept due to the fact that they will have been exposed to it already and that the
teacher will have been able to balance the level of difficulty to be able to include all students' abilities.
It can also be used to provide support during a lesson. This can be done by gathering data while
students are doing an activity by means of observation, conversations and active listening. Through this
form of assessment, you are able to provide feedback right away and, if needed, can model the task at
hand if students do not understand. This tells students what they need to do in order to reach the goal of
the lesson. During this type of assessment, the one assessing can change from the teacher to the
students themselves. They can either self-assess or peer-assess, giving them more independence as well
as a chance to experience assessment as learning. It will help them learn more in depth the
requirements of the task at hand and how to ameliorate their work to make it more efficient and more
understandable for themselves. It is also a great opportunity for students to collaborate and share their
ideas, thus providing an excellent learning community within the classroom.
Another important way formative assessment can help educators is by using it after a lesson to
measure the learning of students. A way to do this, is to gather evidence through different ways. By
keeping records of concise and organized observations, by providing the chance for students to show
their learning in different ways, and also by conferring with students individually or as a whole group.
This can be done by listening to discussions, responding to questions, as well as by reviewing written
responses. Observations, conversations and products all come together to verify learning after a lesson.
At this point in time you are able to provide time for reflection feedback as well as being able to
provide specific descriptive feedback.
Finally, it also can be used to monitor learning between instruction. This type of formative
assessment will help you see in which areas your students are struggling or excelling while helping
them to assess their own improvements. Self-assessment is a very good method to improve learning

and achievement but also contributes to engagement and ownership of learning students take their
learning into their own hands. They are able to reflect on what they have been able to learn thus making
it easier for them to remember it later on.
Self-assessments and peer-assessments are both considered assessments as learning. This type
of assessment is based on the idea that students will learn better and more efficiently by seeing what
others have done and giving their opinion. As for assessment for learning, the teacher circulates,
confers with students, and takes notes. From that information, the teacher may decide on the focus of
the next lesson and/or how to differentiate the lesson to accommodate those who are still struggling
with the subject or task at hand.
Summative Assessment
Benchmark assessment is the only type of summative assessment that teachers use in the
classroom to assess students' learning at the end of a unit. This type of assessment should not be given
too frequently, rather it should be given when a certain subject or topic is thought to have been
mastered or well covered by the teacher. Unfortunately, for many years, summative assessments have
been one of the main types of assessments given to students in the form of written tests and
examinations. While these types of assessments are still relevant to evaluate students' learning, the way
they are administrated can change the way students see them.
Student anxiety over tests and exams is not uncommon. For that reason, we, as teachers, need to
ensure that each of our students feel prepared and calm before, during and after such assessment. For
that reason, we should use summative assessments in a formative way. This could be as easy as using
self- and peer assessments in a way to prepare for summative tests. Since this kind of evaluation
focuses on assessing of learning, we need to ensure that students understand what we are teaching.
Activities such as traffic light, where students show their understanding based on a green (I
understand very well), yellow (I'm not sure I fully understand) and red (I don't understand) card
system, may help the teacher to ensure that everyone is understanding well. This way, the teacher can
get a better evaluation of students' learning (Black, Harrison, Marshall & Wiliam, 2004).
There are many possibilities for us, as teachers, to improve evaluation of students' work. We can
engage students into reflective review of their work so that they may be able to review more efficiently
for a future test or summative project. We must also encourage students to create questions and answer
them so they may become more familiar with the process of assessment. This process might even
encourage them to make better efforts in improving their work. As for self- and peer assessments,
students will learn how to give feedback in a manner that will help them understand criteria with which
their work may be improved (Black et al., 2004).
Overall, students need to know that they are in a non-judgemental environment where their
learning and safety are the priority of the teacher. In a well-balanced classroom, students will have the
opportunity to assess each-other as well as themselves to further learn about the subject and the
evaluation process. In this type of classroom, one may also notice how the teacher discusses frequently
with their students, not only as a whole-class discussion, but as well as on a one-on-one basis. These
conferences will be used as a way to conduct further lessons and to assess the learning of students
while they are still learning. Along with the latter statement, tests and examinations will solemnly be
used as a way to assess the learning of students after a review has been done on the topic or subject.
The balanced classroom gives each child a chance for success and happiness in the school system!

Sources
Black, P., Harrison, C., Lee, C., Marshall, B., Wiliam, D. (2004) Working Inside the Black Box:
Assessment for Learning in the Classroom. Phi Delta Kappan, Vol. 86(1), pp.8-21.
Formative Assessment: An Essential Part of a Balanced Assessment Program. Government of NewBrunswick.