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Course-Level Assessment

Two types of assessment occur in the classroom: formative and summative assessment.

Formative Assessment

Formative assessment, at its most basic, is ungraded, usually anonymous, feedback by students on either a student’s impression of his or her own learning or a student’s opinions about elements of the course. They are used as a means of gauging student learning before or during a learning activity or unit.

Formative assessment is a powerful tool used for checking the effectiveness of classroom instruction and student learning. At its most basic, formative feedback is defined as ungraded, usually anonymous, feedback from students on either a student’s impression of his or her own learning or a student’s opinions about elements of the course.

These activities generally take little time to complete and can therefore occur one or more times during a class session. They also have invariably low stakes, meaning that they have little to no impact on a student’s overall grade. The main purposes of formative assessments are to guide or adjust instruction and to help students see what they need to know or improve upon.

Examples of formative assessments include one-minute papers in which students summarize what was covered during a class session in their own words, informal quizzes, short homework assignments, class discussions, and midsemester class evaluations.

Summative Assessment

Conversely, summative assessment includes activities that evaluate student effectiveness in meeting a learning outcome. These assignments typically take place after instruction for a unit or module in a course has ended.

Summative assessment includes activities that evaluate student effectiveness in meeting a learning outcome. These assignments typically take place after instruction for a unit or module in a course has ended.

Examples of summative assessments include final exams, oral presentations, portfolios, group projects and papers. These activities are typically discussed in annual assessment reports.

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