The Scale for Learning Goals introduced in Module 2 (see Figure 2.2) was designed with formative assessment in mind. In this module we address how this scale can be used to design and score formative assessments and how those assessments can be used to provide students with feedback that can dramatically enhance their learning.
Typically a teacher will progress through a unit of instruction and give an assessment at the end to summarize the learning of students. Although the teacher might give some shorter quizzes along the way, the clear emphasis is on the assessment at the end of the unit. End-of-unit assessments typically are referred to as "summative assessments." The problem with relying on summative assessments only is that they don't provide students with feedback while they are learning new content. If teachers knew exactly how each student was progressing through a unit, they might be able to provide additional assistance. Likewise, if students knew how they were progressing, they would have the opportunity to work harder or to ask for assistance. An approach that provides student with feedback right from the beginning is referred to as "formative." Formative assessments are both powerful measurement tools and powerful instructional tools.
Reflecting on Your Current Beliefs and Practices