FROM SURVIVING TO THRIVING
211
4. Assessing the objectives
With the objectives cast, next, assessments must be created that will sup-
ply feedback to the students and the professor about whether the students
have mastered the objectives. Assessments generally take two forms: for-
mative and summative
.
20
Formative assessments are forward looking in
the sense that they supply information to the student that the student can
use to adjust his or her learning, and they supply information that the pro-
fessor can use to adjust his or her teaching. Examples of formative as-
sessments include: classroom discussion questions, graded or ungraded
quizzes, online discussion boards, and survey instruments, such as click-
ers. Summative assessments differ from formative in the sense that they
are backward looking. They seek to report on student performance at the
end of a learning experience. In the law school environment, summative
assessments include final exams, final papers, and final trials. When pro-
fessors utilize formative and summative assessments, the assessments
create a feedback loop that enables students to refine their learning pro-
cess and allows professors to more effectively teach the information. When
the assessments are rooted in and representative of the course objectives,
they are valid measures of students’ learning. And when each exam ques-
tion is clearly drawn and objectively graded, the assessment is also a reli-
able measure of students’ learning. Valid and reliable assessments match
students’ and professor’s expectations and are thus an authentic measure
of students’ competencies.
20 See e.g. The University of Texas at Arlington,
.
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