You may have heard the words “formative” and “summative” assessment. An easy way to remember the difference is that formative assessment is for learning. Summative assessment creates a summary of learning.
Summative assessments tend to be high-stakes, longer assessments that cover a larger amount of material and contribute to a final grade. These might be exams, final drafts of papers, projects, or presentations.
Formative assessments are low-stakes, quick things to gather information about how well students are learning so that you can make changes during the course. They also allow you to provide students with feedback. Providing frequent and specific feedback is a high-impact practice (it’s HIP). Another word for formative assessments is Classroom Assessment Techniques, or CATs. Check out some of the resources at right for activity ideas.