Educational Formative and Summative Assessment

Formative and summative assessment are different sides of collecting information about students’ learning and evaluating the current system of education. Since a well-balanced assessment system integrates both types, the task of paramount importance is to understand why they are significant, how they work, and how a teacher can apply this knowledge to their teaching practice. Educators should consider the existing standards and develop their own approaches.

In this paper, the process and use of formative and summative assessment are examined on the ground of the present-day literature that deals with teaching and learning enhancement. In this context, a personal reflection on the value of these data and the actual methods of work are given. It is stated that summative assessment should begin before the interaction with students and be present later. Further, formative assessment is represented in various forms: written feedback, teacher’s comments in a classroom, and peer review.

The formative assessment incorporates practices in individual schools and sometimes individual instructors: they are often described as classroom-assessments or teacher-assessments (Gulikers, Biemans, Wesselink, & van der Wel, 2013). The main idea is to monitor how successful the process of teaching is throughout the whole time of learning: formal assessments occur several times. Students gain knowledge and obtain feedback in the form of grades, comments after a class presentation, teacher’s comments on homework, projects, and so on.

Formal assessment concentrates on the ongoing development and does not affect the final results: even if a grade is given, it is done for the purpose of evaluating student’s progress (Fisher, Exley, & Ciobanu, 2014). In this context, it is easier to make early adjustments and correct one’s plans according to the current state of affairs.

Summative assessments are notable for their periodic occurrence. Although they are usually associated with standardized tests, final and term examinations, the scope of application is wider: summative assessments may take place at the end of a unit, chapter, or course. For example, many textbooks contain tests and other tasks after each section. The primary goal is to summate the student’s accomplishments at a particular time (Fisher et al., 2014).

In other words, it is necessary to evaluate the depth and breadth of what learners have achieved up to a certain point. As opposed to formative assessments, summative assessments have a direct influence on students’ grades. Because learners have been instructed, they are prepared for the summative assessment of the final product (Gulikers et al., 2014). In addition, the summative assessment helps evaluate not only students’ overall knowledge but also the effectiveness of school programs implemented.

In relation to my teaching practice, I would use summative assessment as the fundament on which new knowledge would be gained by my students. Before the first meeting with a class, I would become familiar with the results of the previous examinations and try to separate possible academic problem areas. Later on, I would concentrate on formative assessment. As it has been mentioned above, its cornerstone is proper feedback.

I would not only award my students grades but also provide them with comments and recommendations. I suppose the most convenient way to evaluate written assignments would be to use the Internet while personal discussion would be appropriate for classroom practice. Besides, peer assessment would be practiced when students make presentations and receive feedback from their classmates. At the end of a unit, summative assessments would be present according to the curriculum: presumably, I would set tests after each unit.


Fisher, A., Exley, K., & Ciobanu, D. (2014). Using technology to support learning and teaching. New York, NY: Routledge.

Gulikers, J. T., Biemans, H. J., Wesselink, R., & van der Wel, M. (2013). Aligning formative and summative assessments: A collaborative action research challenging teacher conceptions. Studies in Educational Evaluation, 39(2), 116-124.