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Assessment vs Evaluation

Assessment vs Evaluation

  • Though the terms are often used interchangeably, 'assessment' can refer to smaller, lower-stakes exercises that can be used to help you and your students gain a sense of how they are doing throughout a course. These can serve as opportunities to identify areas that may require more attention while there is time to make changes.  
  • 'Evaluation' can refer to higher-stakes, conclusive 'judgments' of coursework which are used to determine a student's grade in the course.
  • Sometimes, this distinction is referred to using the terms 'formative assessment' and 'summative assessment.' Formative assessment is also known as 'assessment for learning', while summative assessment is known as 'assessment of learning'.  
  • The value in understanding these differences is that a balance of both can help you and your students to be aware of their progress throughout a course so adjustments can be made before final, larger stakes assessments are attempted by the end of the course.  

The instructor benefits from evaluation, too

  • The term 'evaluation' can also be used in regard to judgments made about the success of a course or program overall, including the instructional methods used (Taras, 2005).
  • Gathering feedback and evidence from your students regarding the course or program as a whole, while also reflecting on your own observations, are worthwhile practices.
  • In many cases, formative assessment techniques can serve to provide the sort of insight that is useful when reflecting on how you might tweak the delivery of a course or program going forward.

Develop clear grading criteria

  • Effective assessments are meaningful and transparent (Rust, 2002).
  • After you have selected the assessment methods you will use in your course, it is critical to outline clear instructions and grading criteria. All grading criteria should be directly related to the course learning outcomes.  
  • It can be useful to give your guidelines and grading criteria to a trusted colleague, teaching assistant or a member of the Teaching and Learning Centre for feedback. 

Communicate clearly and often with students

  • Have you ever found yourself wondering if your students read the assessment guidelines? As important as clear guidelines are, posting them in your course does not guarantee that students will submit improved work (Rust, 2002).  
  • Getting students into the habit of reviewing and engaging with assessment guidelines and criteria can happen in different ways. Rubrics and checklists are good ways to communicate grading criteria and students can be encouraged to check their own work against the criteria using these tools before it is submitted for grading. If students are given opportunities to utilize rubrics -- through self or peer grading or involvement in the development of criteria -- they can be used to promote deeper learning (Reddy & Andrade, 2010).
  • Starting these practices early in the course can serve as ways to help your students to be more mindful of assessment guidelines and grading criteria. Additionally, rubrics and checklists can help to promote fairness and consistency when you are grading student work either independently or amongst a team of graders.

Examples

Below are just a few examples of assessment and evaluation ideas you can use in your teaching practice. Depending on how they are implemented, some of these examples could serve as either summative or formative assessment. 

Assessment/Formative Assessment

  • Minute papers
  • Exit tickets
  • Practice quizzes
  • Learning logs, reflective journals, or course blogs
  • Self and peer assessments
  • Live question poll/survey response

Evaluation/Summative Assessment

  • Oral exams or final presentations
  • Digital portfolios
  • Research posters
  • Research papers
  • Wikis

Additional Resources

References

  • Reddy, Y. M., & Andrade, H. (2010). A review of rubric use in higher education. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 35(4), 435-448. doi:10.1080/02602930902862859
  • Rust, C. (2002). The impact of assessment on student learning: How can the research literature practically help to inform the development of departmental assessment strategies and learner-centred assessment practices? Active Learning in Higher Education, 3(2), 145-158. doi:10.1177/1469787402003002004
  • Taras, M. (2005). Assessment–summative and formative–some theoretical reflections. British Journal of Educational Studies, 53(4), 466-478. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8527.2005.00307.x

Help and Support

If you are interested in exploring additional ways to obtain feedback from your students, visit the feedback section of our site. If you are a member of the UOIT teaching community, you are also welcome to book a meeting with one of the TLC's educational developers to discuss your questions. Please contact us at teachingandlearning@uoit.ca

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