"When the cook tastes the soup, that's formative; when the guests taste the soup,
that's summative." - Robert Stakes
Formative assessment is assessment for learning. Instead of asking "How did the students perform?", it begs the question, "How can we adjust teaching and learning practices so that we improve student learning?" Formative assessment is most useful when taken on a small (student-by-student) scale. By assessing small pieces of individual student learning, a teacher can alter his or her instructional methods to be more effective and efficient for both the students and the teacher. With the quick feedback that comes with formative assessment, students can also similarly alter their learning.
Read more about formative assessment in these books, available at the MTSU library (call numbers are given in parentheses):
Ainsworth, Larry and Donald Viegut. Common Formative Assessments. (379.1 Ai66c)
Popham, W. James. Transformative Assessment. (371.271 P81t)
Wehlburg, Catherine M. Promoting Integrated and Transformative Assessment. (378.166 W42p)
Also find more info with these online resources:
Formative vs. Summative Evaluation - provides excerpts and quotes that quickly and clearly demonstrate the differences
The Concept of Formative Assessment - addresses the benefits of formative assessment and gives examples of implementation
The Best Value in Formative Assessment - includes different ways of conducting formative assessments and how to use pre-determined summative assessments in a formative manner
And don't miss Jones College's Assurance of Learning Terms.