Benefits of Assessment Types: How They Support Your Instruction

Nov 06, 2023
Benefits of assessment types Edmentum International article

As you’re probably already aware, assessing students’ understanding and attainment can be done in many ways. Assessment types can run the gamut from self-evaluation and student interviews to formative and summative assessments.

For example, some assessment types in a classroom include:

  • Formative assessments
  • Summative assessments
  • Evaluative assessments
  • Diagnostic assessments
  • Skill assessments

All techniques have their place in the classroom.

However, using a combination of these assessment types will create a holistic picture that can really help you understand exactly where your students are in terms of learning.

Let’s take a closer look into formative and summative assessments and discuss these assessment types and how they can play a part in helping your students grow their knowledge and skills.

Summative Assessment Types

Summative assessment is normally carried out at the end of a year or term, and its purpose is to evaluate a student’s learning of a topic over that time period.

The benefit of these assessment types is that they help you as a teacher evaluate your students’ progress from whichever starting point you have identified.

Summative assessments also support you with identifying gaps between students’ understanding and learning objectives to decide how best to move forward with your instruction.

Summative Assessment Methods
  • End-of-unit exams – where students take a formal exam to evaluate understanding.
  • Portfolio/cumulative work – where students complete work over a longer period of time. This work is put together into one piece of work to demonstrate understanding.
  • Standardized tests – such as those that are administered to show school results.

Formative Assessment Types

You might say that formative assessment is more diagnostic and informal than summative assessment. It is designed to give ongoing feedback on a subject area to help you adjust your teaching and learning methods as you go.

Feedback from formative assessments can help give both you and your students an idea of what extra support they might need.

Many formative methods fit quickly and simply into daily classroom life, and whilst some feedback may be recorded, on-the-spot feedback allows misconceptions to be identified and addressed in the moment.

Formative Assessment Methods
  • Quizzes – these can be created by students or yourself. Ask students questions and allow them to work through incorrect answers as a class so they can gain a better understanding of how to get to the correct answer.
  • In-class clicker systems – students use clickers to answer multiple-choice questions to check for mastery in the class.
  • Cumulative presentations – after a subject area has been taught, you could task students with creating a presentation so you can see their thoughts and understanding.

The Difference Between Summative and Formative Assessment Types

Sometimes there isn’t really a clear line between formative and summative assessment types. They can be done in very similar ways.

The main difference between the two, however, is that formative assessment is part of the instructional process and helps you inform changes for your teaching methods. Summative assessment helps see where students are in their learning toward the “end” of a topic or time span.

Mainly though, they are both ways to assess students and are ideal for giving students feedback. They inform instructional changes, too, as well as adjust future lesson planning and, sometimes, even the curriculum offered in schools.

Benefits of These Assessment Types

Ultimately, both assessment types are important to a student’s learning progress. Both look to help students with an end result – improving their understanding and helping them succeed.

It could be said, though, that you should spend as much time on formative assessment as summative. Both are critical for students’ success with their progress and understanding.

With both methods, you can help your students succeed and gain insights into their progress and where they are with targets or learning goals. This is why your school’s learning program should consider both, in addition to any other strategies you may use.

Interested in using student assessment data more effectively? Discover three ways to leverage formative and summative assessments to drive instruction and boost learning.

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