Formative and Summative Assessment

This document helps distinguish between formative and summative assessment.

This document is pirated from Carnegie Mellon's design and teach a course website.

What is the difference between formative and summative assessment?

Formative assessment

The goal of formative assessment is to monitor student learning to provide ongoing feedback that can be used by instructors to improve their teaching and by students to improve their learning. More specifically, formative assessments:

Formative assessments are generally low stakes, which means that they have low or no point value. Examples of formative assessments include asking students to:

Summative assessment

The goal of summative assessment is to evaluate student learning at the end of an instructional unit by comparing it against some standard or benchmark.

Summative assessments are often high stakes, which means that they have a high point value. Examples of summative assessments include:

Information from summative assessments can be used formatively when students or faculty use it to guide their efforts and activities in subsequent courses.