Differences between Formative and Summative evaluation

Differencesbetween Formative and Summative evaluation

Thereare two broad categories of Evaluations: Formativeand Summative.Formative evaluation is a method of determining the worth of aprogram while the programs activities are still in session (Scriven,1991).In short this is the part of the evaluation concerned with theongoing process. Summative evaluation on the other hand judges theworth of a program at the end of the programs activities (Scriven,1991). Itfocus is the result rather than the ongoing process.

Takethe example of a Lecturer and his students.

BothFormative and Summative evaluations are paramount for any Lecturer,despite being very different. Evaluation from a Lecturers perspectiveis all about finding out whether the students have understood whatthey have learned. Formative evaluation, in this case, will be theefforts that the Lecturer will take to query whether the studentshave understood the teachings. The lecturer might give out a quiz orask questions randomly during the lecture. Summative evaluation wouldbe the end of semester exams, or the delivery of a project or thesis.

Interms of learning Formative evaluation focuses on smaller units ofthe learning process as compared to Summative evaluation. In recentyears, Britain has focused more on Formative evaluations on studentslearning (Asghar, 2012). Each and every class is expected to displaysome kind of Formative evaluation. In doing, so Britain ensures thatits students learn something before they leave the classrooms, ratherthan having to wait for the exam results to prove they did not learnanything by getting poor grades.


Scriven,M. (1991). Beyond Formative and Summative evaluation.

Asghar,M. (2012). The lived experience of Formative evaluation practice in aBritish university. Journalof Further and Higher Education,36(2),205-223.