Follow Up Friday

October 6, 2023

From the Archives

Formative and Summative Assessments

Understanding the outcomes of formative and summative assessments is imperative when planning your course map and learning objectives. 

The Differences

There are fundamental differences between summative and formative assessments. Summative assessments are exactly what they sound like. Think unit exams, large essays, projects, or reports. Anything that is measuring a culmination of the learning process is considered summative. These assignments usually have a large impact on students’ grades because they are focused on measuring mastery of the course objectives. If structured properly, students should be able to use the supporting material within your course to do well on these assessments. 

Formative assessments serve as checkpoints for your course. They can be shorter quizzes, presentations, or comprehension checks depending on what type of format is appropriate for your specific course. The main difference between formative and summative is that these assessments are not an after-the-fact assessment. Formative assessments are meant to measure the success of learning as it is happening. These usually make up a smaller portion of the grade and are sprinkled throughout the semester to reinforce course content.

As an instructor, you should use assessments as reflections for yourself in addition to the student. Is your course doing what you said it would? Make sure that the course is giving students the opportunity to engage with the content. Formative assessments will serve as an evaluation for you to understand your student’s journey and adjust when appropriate. Is the course clear? Does the supporting content make sense? How are they digesting the course? Maybe they aren’t retaining lectures as well as you originally planned, or maybe they are choosing not to participate in the course.  In a way this structure mirrors modules or learning objectives, acting as a guide to build learner’s achievements.

Structuring Assessments

The assessments should align based on the language you used in the learning objectives. If the learning objective was “explain key differences between this and that,” then the assessment needs to evaluate the student’s explanation. This may come in the form of a paper or presentation. Keep in mind that module learning objectives and overall learning objectives are measuring different things. Proper assessment structure can help students navigate these objectives successfully.

On top of that, it is important to note that different assessments will require a different level of cognitive functioning from students. Different cognitive levels should be reached at different points during the semester. Formative assessments are useful in this regard because they can give you a clear understanding of where your students are at as the semester continues. Your students might be first time college students, or they could be graduating that semester. For advanced learners, reflection assignments or assignments that require research and thought may be a better assessment structure than a quiz would. Recognizing when to challenge students based off their academic position will build a well-structured classroom.

For a more detailed understanding of formative and summative assessments watch this presentation from Digital Learning Strategist, James Butler.

Upcoming Events

Quick Hit – Course Accessibility for ScreenReaders

Thursday October 12th, 3:30-4:00 PM

Join this training to have your questions on course accessibility and screenreaders answered. Whether you have a specific question or want an accessibility topic demonstrated, this training opportunity is your time to work with our accessibility coordinator. When registering, choose whether to have a specific topic covered, enter your question, or both. 

Facilitated by Michelle Tuten, Accessibility Coordinator.   

Modality: Virtual and synchronous—an Outlook Calendar invite, with the Zoom link, will be sent.
Registration: Quick Hits: Course Accessibility for Screenreaders on October 12th 

Applying Accessibility Principles

Wednesday, October 18, 1:30-2:30 PM

Providing alternative means of accessing course materials is essential for learners who require accessibility support; they are also entitled to it under the law. Join this presentation to learn about basic principles of accessibility you can start using in your course today. This presentation will discuss the accessibility guidelines in General Standard 8 of the Quality Matters rubric.

Facilitated by Sharyn Emery, Ph.D., Digital Learning Manager

Modality: Virtual and synchronous—an Outlook Calendar invite, with the Zoom link, will be sent.
Registration: Applying Accessibility Principles October 18th .

Clemson Online Fall 2023 Events Calendar

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Review our Fall 2023 Events Calendar to see what Online Instruction Development opportunities await!

We have a robust Summer lineup of topics and live training formats to support your use of Canvas and other e-learning tools. Topics cover demonstrations of using Kaltura, presentations on inclusive practices for online education, and workshops to get your Canvas site ready to teach!

All of our live training is recorded. Registrants will automatically receive a link to that day’s video after it has been processed.

Contact James Butler with any questions regarding these sessions. 

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