Week 13

How can I use both formative and summative assessment to enhance (or at least not interfere with) intrinsic motivation?

In order to answer this question I first need to explain the difference between formative and summative assessments. Formative assessment is monitoring student learning to provide ongoing feedback that can be used by instructors and students to improve their teaching and learning, while summative assessment is evaluating student learning after an instructional unit and comparing the results to standards and benchmarks. Formative assessments tend to be low stake (low or no point value) assessments, while summative assessments tend to be high stake (high points).  (Eberly Center, 2015)

Summative assessment is also known as norm-referenced testing, while formative assessment is known as criterion-referenced testing. Both can be standardized, yet we find that when required to give many teachers tend to teach towards the tests. (Bond, 1996) Wheatley listed factors that promote this continued use of test-driven schooling;

  • the inertia to do what has always been done
  • ignorance of historical roots (assimilation of immigrants) and alternatives
  • familiarity with test-driven focus
  • misleading language and the media (ex; higher standards, academic rigor)
  • Bureaucracy (control over the students and teachers)
  • Profit for businesses that create the tests (2015, pp. 10)

“Unfortunately, traditional schooling is not usually based on intrinsic motivation, but rather, assumes that motivation is something teachers do to children through rewards and punishments” (pp. 11). Through intense research it has shown that this is not the way to go. We need to create an environment that is guided by formative assessment which the students can also learn to use to assist their own learning. We can’t completely get rid of Summative assessment, since we do live in the US and education has a standard that we need to follow. But, we can change the approach in which we give our summative assessments. Just like this class, we receive frequent feedback in a timely manner. “Feedback should be given often so that students can benefit from having multiple opportunities for improvement” (DePaul, 2014). This allows us to learn from our mistakes and grow. We take the information we have received and apply it to our next task and continue to keep in mind our final assessment piece (in this case our Ubd and Internship reflection). This gives us a basis to push forward towards our summative assessment with guidance and confidence.

Without that confidence and guidance some students are then motivated to cheat to acquire the grade they desire. Kohn is outraged by the fact that educators are focusing on finding ways to keep kids from cheating rather than trying to figure out why they wanted to cheat. (2007) That intrinsic motivation comes from the desire to want to know more, which is ignited by interest, confidence, guidance with frequent feedback, and the ability to do things in your own creative manner. I have always strived to teach my students to use their resources. When they become adults and get jobs they will need to know how to use their resources in order to keep those jobs and/or progress further. Test-driven assessments do not follow this thinking; they tend to test what a student can memorize. We need to prepare them for their futures not how to memorize information.

Bond, L. A. (1996). Norm- and Criterion-Referenced Testing. Eric/AE Digest. Retrieved from


DePaul University. (2014). Low-Stakes Assessments. Retrieved from


Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence. (2015). Whys and Hows of Assessment. Retrieved

from https://www.cmu.edu/teaching/assessment/basics/formative-summative.html

Kohn, A. (2007, October). Who’s Cheating Whom? Retrieved from


Wheatley K. F. (2015, February). Factors that Perpetuate Test-Driven, Factory-Style

Schooling: Implications for Policy and Practice. International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research, 10(2), Retrieved from http://ijlter.org/index.php/ijlter/article/viewFile/261/pdf


4 thoughts on “Week 13

  1. I teach my kids to use their resources too and not rely on others to help them finish the job. So many of my kids expect me to “hold their hand” through every assignment. I finally looked at my ninth graders the other day and said what’s gonna happen one day when your boss comes in and says you didn’t finish your presentation, what are you going to say, “I need more time,” because pretty sure your boss isn’t going to care if you need more time. They seem to have no motivation to do well even to get good grades and feel good about themselves or to prevent getting in trouble from parents at home when they have low grades (maybe kids don’t get in trouble for that anymore). Everything based around testing in my opinion is making kids less motivated to do well and then yes they turn to cheating because they have to get an assignment done last minute and that’s the only way to do it. Megan wrote something like sorry kids we aren’t allowed to have any fun today we have too much to get through on her blog and it’s so true. Too much material to get through that chances are students aren’t even really solidly learning it, but it’s got to get learned for the state tests. I get the point of standards in education because we need accountability but there has to be room for kids to enjoy school as well, because without the enjoyment part, they aren’t going to want to be there. I feel like I just went off on a little bit of a rant there 🙂 Enjoyed your blog this week!


  2. I just read Megan’s blog and I too agree. If we just keep cramming information down their throats they won’t retain it all. After a while they just become zombies in your classroom. We can only expect them to get so much at a time, but sometimes it seems like they are getting too much new information and those poor little guys just can’t retain it all especially if the instructor just moves on to the next thing.


  3. It’s sad to think that the learning environment and expectations created by educators drives students to cheat. I’ve also learned that I need to have balance my emphasis on forward thinking when I frame problem solving and skill building; if I always tell students to think about their future, it ignores the reality of “right now”. It says to them that “how you are feeling right now” is not as important as what you will face in that future job. While students understand that requirements, expectations, standards and deadlines are important, we need to show the relevance and how it benefits them now or in the short-term. I’ve heard from so many students how life and school just feels like “I’m waiting to grow up”; they don’t feel ownership and motivation in their lives because they don’t have any control or ability to make decisions or informed choices. I also agree that we have to work within the system (using summative assessments and standardized testing) to change our approach!


  4. I totally agree. We need to make them see how relavent all of it is, present and in the future but that it is all connected. Choices they make now can positively or negatively affect the choices they will make in the future. I always tell my students that I repsect them, and I show them that respect in how I treat them. I expect the same respect from them, but I don’t treat them like they are children I treat them like people.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s