Formative vs. Summative Assessment

board-room-trainingWhether you are creating an elearning course or content for live training, there is a good chance that you will have some form of assessment mixed within the material.

Most training initiatives outline objectives then utilize some form of assessment to see how well learners have a solid understanding of the material.

Assessments are critical to program success.

Sadly though, many of the assessments used in elearning and instructor-led training are one dimensional – usually taking the form of some simple multiple choice questions.

That’s not to say that multiple choice doesn’t have its place. You just shouldn’t feel limited to this method of assessment.

Most assessment strategies fall into one of two categories: formative or summative.

  • Formative assessment involves activities that measure and provide feedback during the learning process.
  • Summative assessment involves using grades, points, or data to demonstrate learner growth after instruction.

Examples of Formative & Summative Assessment

Both of these methods have their uses. Perhaps one of the following strategies listed below will inspire you to mix up your assessment methods for your next course.

Formative assessment examples include:

  • Providing verbal or written summaries
  • Peer activities that reinforce collaboration and assess the quality of each other’s work
  • Self-assessments so learners can evaluate their own performance
  • Lists, charts, and graphic organizers to encourage learners to communicate clearly and effectively through making connections and noting relationships

Summative assessment examples include:

  • Performance tasks to see if certain skills were acquired
  • Multiple-choice tests to examine memory recall
  • Participation tasks to encourage learners to engage in lectures, seminars, annd online forums
  • Oral presentations so learners can demonstrate their knowledge or present research findings
Reference:
Michaels & Associates
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About the Author:

Justin Ferriman is the co-founder and CEO of LearnDash, the WordPress LMS trusted by the world's leading organizations, such as the University of Michigan, Digital Marketer, WPEngine, and Infusionsoft. Justin has made a career as an elearning consultant where he has implemented large-scale training programs for Fortune 500 companies. Twitter | LinkedIn

4 Comments
  1. Anish

    Great article again, Justin. I have been reading your articles regularly for the past few days, have found them very informational and unbiased.

    I am aware that LearnDash has assessment in-built. However, would you know of any plugins that further deep-dive into assessment and analysis and could be used in conjunction with LearnDash?

    Would appreciate your inputs.

    Cheers

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