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Types of Assessment

Formative v. Summative

Formative Assessment is conducted throughout a project, event or service to improve the project or event for that particular group of attendees.  For example, if you are facilitating a service learning training and halfway through poll the attendees to see who has conducted service learning work domestically, you may be conducting a formative assessment.  If you find that over half of them have never served domestically you may want to focus more of the program on those opportunities.  In other words, with a formative assessment, you use the information to help improve your event or activity for that particular group of attendees while the event is ongoing.

Summative Assessment occurs at the end or summation of an event or service.  If at the end of your service learning training you ask attendees to describe the difference between domestic and global service learning opportunities this may help you see what the attendees mastered.  For example, you may find that 80% of the attendees could correctly describe the differences between domestic and global service learning opportunities.  If that was one of your learning outcomes, this is a great result that shows your 80% of program attendees mastered this concept!  However, if you find that few students mastered this, there is not a whole lot you can do for this group of attendees — hence why this is a summative assessment.  You may take some notes on how to improve your training for future groups, but with a summative assessment the current program or project is finished and cannot be changed

Direct v. Indirect

Direct:  Participant demonstrates learning/knowledge.  For example, ask a student to list the mental health resources available on campus.  They must directly generate this knowledge and show you that yes, they can list the various services.

Indirect:  Participant’s perception of learning.  For example, ask a student if they agree or disagree that they can list the mental health resources available on campus.  Even if they agree with this statement, we are not certain they know this information since with an indirect measure this really measures what they perceive they know.

When possible, try to use a direct measure so you can know with certainty that participants did acquire new knowledge or skills.

Quantitative Methods
• Surveys
• Pre/Post Test

Qualitative Methods
• Interviews
• Focus Groups