Summative assessment is generally carried out at the end of a course, unit or project and in an educational setting, summative assessments are typically used to assign students a course grade.
Formative assessment is a self-reflective process intended to enhance, recognize and respond to the learning. It is a bi-directional process between teacher and student and should be designed to evaluate students on a frequent basis so that adjustments (by the teacher and by the student) can be made to help them reach target achievement goals.
Much research in the teaching of writing is about the use of formative assessment. Anyone who has taught writing knows how difficult (if not impossible) it is to have a final "test" to measure a student's ability to write.
Formative assessment improves student writing by monitoring it through the prewriting, writing, and revision processes.
I was looking over some notes I made and slipped into a book on assessment years ago. The notes still seem true today as I go into the fifth year of the Writing Initiative at PCCC. Here were my top 10 thoughts while reading that book.
- monitor, diagnose, and provide continual feedback to your students
- break large writing assignments into several smaller tasks
- vary your feedback methods
- discuss the myths and realities of writing in an academic setting
- make sure students self-assess and reflect orally & in writing on their progress
- teachers and students should create and use rubrics and checklists
- need to support students in all stages of the writing process
- each piece of writing a student creates, no matter how brief, formal or informal, is an opportunity to learn
- use individual, small-group, and large-group discussions
- feedback is key to a "writing workshop" approach