Formative and Summative Evaluation in the Assessment of Adult Learning

Formative and Summative Evaluation in the Assessment of Adult Learning

James B. Martin (U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, USA) and Royce Ann Collins (Kansas State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-745-9.ch008
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Assessment is an important, yet poorly understood, process in adult education. This chapter examines the differences between two important types of assessment/evaluation, formative and summative, and examines how these are incorporated into the literature of adult learning. Focusing on the literature of program planning in adult education, the authors identify a disagreement in the common definition of the terms and consider the impact this could have on educational planning for adult programs. Adapting a formative assessment model that focuses on short-, medium-, and long-cycle formative assessments, examples of all three types currently used in adult education classrooms are provided. The model is then telescoped out to the program level, where a long-cycle formative assessment is identified using a military graduate school as an example. The chapter concludes with a reiteration of the importance of formative assessment and a call to educators to more effectively incorporate it into adult learning.
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8.1 Introduction

As the title indicates, this chapter will deal with the important, yet often misunderstood, concepts of formative and summative evaluation and their criticality to the assessment of adult learning. After identifying how these terms will be defined for our purposes, in order to create a common language for the discussion of formative and summative evaluation, the current literature of adult learning and assessment will be briefly examined to clarify how these terms are currently used by major voices in the field. The bulk of the chapter will be spent examining each term to illuminate their importance in adult learning and clarify their use. Specific examples will be provided in order to clarify how the terms differ and the myriad of techniques that can be used with both to improve student learning in the classroom or the operations of adult learning programs. The processes of assessment and evaluation are of critical importance to adult education. Many adult learning programs are created in nontraditional or accelerated settings and do not conform to the normal parameters of programs in higher education. Particularly in the case of adult higher education (Kasworm & Marienau, 1997) the positive use of assessment serves not only as a catalyst for the improvement of student learners, but also as a form of evidence for the validity of the programs and student performance. Taken as a whole, the chapter will strive to make clear the importance of formative and summative evaluations and provide possible methods that can be used to implement them in adult programs.

Assessment is one of the most important words in adult education, yet often one of the scariest. Many faculty members, full or part time, and academic administrators shy away from assessment because of the negative connotations that it carries in elementary and secondary education. Some shy away because they deem it to be too hard and not worth the effort. Many of these individuals view assessment as one thing: the process by which the educational world makes judgments on student performance, normally to award grades or determine levels of performance on standardized tests. This chapter will deal with this process of making judgments on student performance, but will also lay out other uses for assessment of student learning that can have significant impacts on the learning and teaching that occurs in adult classrooms. We will deal with two different types of evaluation which are both used for assessment, but have different purposes for their use. These are, predictably, formative evaluation and summative evaluation.

Complete Chapter List

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Table of Contents
Victor C. X. Wang
Victor C. X. Wang
Chapter 1
Patricia Cranton
I have not met many educators who say that they enjoy the assessment and grading of learners’ work, or find it rewarding. In my research on... Sample PDF
Working toward Self-Evaluation
Chapter 2
Victor C. X. Wang, Kathleen P. King
Scholars and practitioners all seem to agree that andragogy is not the only perspective and model in the field of adult learning. We no longer think... Sample PDF
Transformative Learning and Ancient Asian Educational Perspectives
Chapter 3
Kerry Lee
Integrating adult learning and technology is exceptionally challenging. The one certainty present for adult educators is that they can rely on... Sample PDF
Philosopher or Philistine?
Chapter 4
John A. Henschke
With the foundation of andragogy having been laid, there was a serious attempt at investigating its value. Some felt that a broad scope was... Sample PDF
A Productive Decade of Andragogy’s History and Philosophy: 2000-2009
Chapter 5
Lesley Farmer
This chapter examines technological factors that influence the conditions and processes of adult learning, and how adult educators can deal with... Sample PDF
New Perspectives of Andragogy in Relation to the Use of Technology
Chapter 6
Mary C. Ware
The author, an instructional development specialist and faculty member with 35+ years experience, has been attempting, throughout her career, to... Sample PDF
Learning Contracts as Part of Instructional Design and Evaluation
Chapter 7
Ernest W. Brewer
This chapter provides a comprehensive overview of the literature related to three of the many evaluation models that can be applied to programs... Sample PDF
Evaluation Models for Evaluating Educational Programs
Chapter 8
James B. Martin, Royce Ann Collins
Assessment is an important, yet poorly understood, process in adult education. This chapter examines the differences between two important types of... Sample PDF
Formative and Summative Evaluation in the Assessment of Adult Learning
Chapter 9
E. Paulette Isaac
Adults have different learning styles which can either enhance or deter their learning. In the conversation that follows, I discuss the utility of... Sample PDF
Assessing Adult Learning and Learning Styles
Chapter 10
Bridget D. Arend
Adult education in the twenty-first century is tasked with developing skilled workers with critical thinking and problem solving skills that will... Sample PDF
Using Assessment to Promote Critical Thinking and Problem Solving Skills in Adults
Chapter 11
Jim Berger
This chapter provides an overview of assessment of instruction using adult learning principles. The goal of this chapter is to examine the... Sample PDF
Evaluating the Effectiveness of Instruction Using Principles of Adult Learning
Chapter 12
Lesley Farmer, Judith Parker
This chapter focuses on assessment and evaluation of adult learning, and provides examples of strategies and techniques in online environments.... Sample PDF
Assessing Adult Learning in Online Courses
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