Research Article 2

Can formative assessment be used to support summative assessment and summative assessment for formative purposes?
Shane Payne
University of Leicester

Abstract
Due to the ever increasing need for monitoring and accountability in our schools and colleges,
methods of assessment have become more important as a means of measuring student
attainment. This article defines the characteristics of formative and summative assessment. It
highlights the strengths and limitations of each before questioning if they can be used for
different purposes than their original aim. Formative assessment requires planning and
preparation to ensure the students gain the most from the experience. Feedback and feedforward
are crucial elements that play a part in the whole process as they offer the students the
opportunity to reflect on their work and consider further steps to develop their learning. I
suggest that summative assessment, an indicator of the level of previous learning, does not just
have to be a tool for identifying a level achieved or a grade but rather can be used to evidence
deeper understanding of the specific area of study. Therefore, with careful planning,
questions/tasks need to be designed so that the answers reflect more than surface level
knowledge. The study concludes that summative assessment can be used formatively to identify
what a student knows at a particular point in time. However, because it only gives a level of
achievement or grade for a specific period, rather than specific feedback on the achievements
and areas for improvement, it can be considered as only partially formative. In contrast,
formative assessment can be used summatively because it can inform the student on how they have reached a specific level, and additionally opens up a conversation between the student and
teacher about how to move forward with their learning.

Keywords: Summative assessment; Formative assessment; Feedback; Feed-forward;
Compatibility.

3Payne2014Dec

CC-BY-NC-ND

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