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
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