6. Evaluation of Learning Overview

In the broad shift from teacher-centered methods of instruction to a more learner-centered approach, the main focus of evaluation shifts from primarily measuring student knowledge to measuring outputs such as, "what abilities have students actually acquired, what do they actually know, and what are they competent to do?"1

This shift is in-line with the move to an information-based society where skills such as analysis, creation, and application2 will be increasingly important. The role of assessment takes on new significance in this model, and relies on a combination of traditional summative evaluations, and newer formative evaluation. Summative assessment primarily refers to evaluation done at the end of a learning unit whose purpose is to report on learning by comparing student achievement to standard criteria. Formative assignment, on the other hand, generally refers to onoing feedback designed to monitor and enhance learning during a learning unit.3

Assessment then becomes not only a tool for evaluation, but also a tool to reinforce learning. When designed and implemented in a cyclical, recursive manner with outcomes, the cycle is a powerful tool in both student and course evaluation. In this section, we offer instructors tools and tips for designing both formative and summative assessments, as well as guidelines for testing and grading.

Formative Assessment

  • Classroom Assessment Techniques, Danielle Mihram, Center for Excellence in Teaching, University of Southern California. Frequently asked questions about classroom assessment, and non-traditional techniques for assessing prior knowledge and skills.
  • ePortfolio Program, Center for Experiential Learning, Loyola University Chicago. Uses for students, faculty, and for overall assessment and evaluation.
  • Evaluation Cookbook, from the Learning Technology Dissemination Initiative
  • Interactive Techniques for Assessment, Kevin Yee, University of Central Florida. 186 different ideas of ways to assess for student learning, with strategies for use in everything from lectures to games to social media (Facebook, Twitter).
  • Using Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs), Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence, Carnegie Mellon University. What questions to ask when planning a CAT, and specific types to try in the classroom (i.e. Minute Paper, Muddiest Point).

Summative Assessment

See also:



Source Information

1. Frye, R., Mckinney, G. R., & Trimble, J. E. (2006). Tools and Techniques for Course Improvement: Handbook for Course Review and Assessment of Student Learning. Western Washington University: Bellingham, WA.

2. From Bloom's taxonomy, quoted from above citation.

3. What is the difference between formative and summative assessment? Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence and Educational Innovation, Carnegie Mellon University.