Summative assessment Summative assessment

Summative assessment

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What is summative assessment?

Summative assessment is a way of grading student’s performance by evaluating their knowledge on the course they are studying, based on some specific criteria. 

Teachers use summative assessments as a mode of grading student’s performance right from the end semester exams to teacher-designed quizzes, where both teachers and students have to invest a significant amount of time towards the process. 

Summative assessment is often conducted in the end of the course completion and instructors assess student’s performance, knowledge and understanding of that specific course. The results are then compared to what the student has learned to what he was supposed to learn in the course. Summative assessment uses a pre-defined standard or a benchmark to rate student’s performance and has no intention to understand how the student has learned the course or any practical application of it for that matter. 

Summative assessment Summative assessment

The most common application of this method is seen in end-term examinations where students are given questions depending on their subjects, within specific period of time. Summative assessment is not known for providing individual one-on-one feedbacks to the students. 

Summative assessments are on high stakes as it is conducted when the instructor wants to decide the student’s further progress. Example: if the student gets to take further learning courses, promotion or an admission.

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Features of summative assessments

  • Validity – summative assessment also evaluates a student’s ability to compete in the specified subjects, along with the goals and objective of the course. Like there are practical exams for science.
  • Reliability – it is a standard process of knowledge assessment and brings out the student’s ability to compete with what he/she have learned. Summative assessment is known to produce accurate results as well.
  • Practicality – summative evaluation is a perfect mix of assessing student’s practical knowledge and it is scalable. It makes easy for the instructor to implement it under the specified courses.
  • Ethical – before the summative assessment is being conducted, instructors take consent from the students. It is due to its respect towards the teaching and learning process. 
  • Easy reports – when the summative assessment is conducted, in the end it provides efficient results so as to how much the student has learned until the exam. This makes it easy for the teachers to assess their performance based on their past assessment reports, based on externally defined standards and with other students.
  • Variety – summative assessments can be conducted using various ways.
  • It doesn’t involve any external topics or courses and is based only on what the students have been taught in the due course. 
  • The purpose of summative assessment is one and identified. 

Examples of summative assessments

End-term examinations

Examinations conducted in the end of the semester are considered to be important when it comes to classroom evaluation. It works in a standard way with almost every educational system, where an instructor assigns questions to the students and they are supposed to complete them in a given timeframe. 

This method is used to assess students’ knowledge that they have gathered in the course and has a pre-defined way of grading their tests. These results are then used to evaluate students’ performances against their past performances, against their peers and external standards. 

In-class chapter tests

These tests are conducted at the end of a chapter, a topic or a phase in the training program. These assessments give instant feedbacks on student performance based on which instructors can prepare students for the final examinations. Quizzes, mid-term exams are commonly conducted.

Admission tests

These assessments are focused on whether the candidate is eligible for admissions into specific courses. Exams like TOEFL and GATE focus on English language proficiency and they have a standardized grading system to determine the eligibility of the candidate.

Creative portfolio

Another way of assessment can be asking students to create their portfolio where they use phrases, images and apply their knowledge. This helps the teachers understand how the student has presented his/her knowledge and understanding of the course subjects. 

Oral tests

Oral assessments help instructors judge students based on how spontaneously they remember their topics. Oral tests or even oral presentations are both real-time assessments. 

In a structured interview, the teacher asks pre-defined questions with their structure explained. In semi-structured interviews, they can ask spontaneous questions and has room for flexibility. And unstructured interviews there is no pre-defined sequence and the instructor can ask questions as they come. 

Hands-on performance

This allows students to try their hands on all knowledge they have gathered in the course. Example: a teacher might ask her students to solve a shapes puzzle and observe how they apply their knowledge in the practical environment. 

Group projects 

These are the best way to put students working on their teamwork skills alongside their knowledge of the course. Teachers make groups of a specific number of students and assign them a topic from the course. The students then complete the task together and those projects are assessed altogether.

Book reports 

This includes students writing a summary of books they read. Teachers then test the literary and analytical skills that were taught in the training program. Students can submit these reports in paper format or online as well. 

Formal essays 

This is the best way to bring out what and how students have understood their course topics. Students are assigned certain topics and they then have to write an essay on it depending on whether they are elaborating the topic, placing a debate point against it or just summarizing their version of the topic.

Observation 

Observation is mostly done while teaching toddlers. Instructors assign them activities like playing or solving a puzzle and observe them know how they approach the activity and if they are applying what they have learnt. Complete observer method: when an observer observes a participant from a distance, eliminating his own existence from the environment. Participant by observation method: when teachers are already friendly and have a relationship with the students and she interacts with them as they present their knowledge. 

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Advantages of summative assessment

  • Depending on students’ performances, the summative assessment shows how effective the course and teaching methods are.
  • It is a standardized method of monitoring student performances over a period of time. 
  • Summative assessments have already been accepted by most educational systems as a formal assessment method. 
  • It helps the teacher understand students’ learning gaps and where the teaching process is being compromised. 
  • It motivated students to self-examine and do better in the next assessments.
  • Summative assessment enhances teacher and student performances towards achieving new and better goals. 

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Disadvantages of summative assessment

  • Since it uses a standard benchmark to grade performances, most of the students not reaching that bar might find it demotivating.
  • To some extent, it does not accurately provide students’ knowledge and understanding as the whole process is standardized. 
  • Anxiety, nervousness and fear can affect students as they prepare for one large test based on plenty of topics. 

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