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The Importance of Summative and Formative Assessments within a Training Program

Marty Newey Corporate Training Leave a Comment

Assessment is an essential part of corporate training. Not only do assessment processes keep the learner engaged, but they can also inform instructional designers on the effectiveness of the course, where learning gaps may exist, and how the learner is progressing. Assessment practices are generally divided into two categories: formative assessments and summative assessments. Formative assessments differ from summative assessments in that formatives are used to better understand how the learning experience is progressing while summatives are used to track the learner’s progress at the end of a lesson.

What are Formative Assessments?

As previously stated, formative assessments are more focused on how the learning experience is progressing, as opposed to how much the user has learned. eLearning Industry says that “in many respects, formative assessment is one of the most beneficial assessment strategies” as it can help learners understand what they still need to learn as they progress through the course. ResourcEd states that “formative assessment is more diagnostic than evaluative. They argue this strategy can be used to monitor learning styles, provide feedback, and let educators adjust their teaching style.

To take advantage of all the benefits, consider adding formative assessments throughout your e-learning courses. ELearningIndustry.com suggests, among other examples, letting users keep an online learning log, creating “goal checks” where users can assess whether or not they have reached the goal for a certain module, or prompting users to share what their learning with their peers. They also suggest that, when designing these experiences, designers create systems that provide immediate feedback and “remember that formative assessments are ‘low-stakes’.”

What are Summative Assessments?

Summative assessments are designed to determine whether or not a module’s learning objectives have been achieved. This strategy is also an essential part of the e-learning process, as it can help you determine whether or not the learner is ready to move onto the next section. ResourcEd states that summative assessments often “have a point value [and] take place under controlled conditions.”

Implementing summative assessments into your courses is easy. ELearningIndustry.com suggests using multiple-choice examples, prompting users to write a blog post, or bringing users together to create an online presence. They also suggest, in these exercises, making the grading rubrics available beforehand and to carefully analyze the results afterward, looking for trends or opportunities for improvements.

After the Assessment

Once you’ve received the results of your assessments, it’s up to you to interpret the data and decide what steps to take next. The results may prove that your courses are helping learners accomplish their learning objectives, or they may show that the learner needs a little help understanding specific subjects. If you need help understanding how you can better implement assessments into your training or would like help creating more effective online learning courses, AllenComm has a team of training consultants ready for any challenge.

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