ELT article published by Prof. Jonathan Acuña at http://reflective-online-teaching.blogspot.


Formative or Summative Feedback?
When it comes to talk about assessment in an online class, the very first thing to consider is what seems to be happening in our F2F courses at our teaching institution. What is really going on in terms of student assessment and how is it that we are providing feedback to students? Are we instructors (and students) rather affected by the university evaluation practices? Let’s explore the topic a bit in depth. As a college professor at Universidad Latina in Costa Rica, I have to admit that there is no written assessment code or guidelines provided by our faculty departments. In spite of this absence of “guidelines,” course outlines permeate summative assessment in course evaluation criteria and learning objectives. Although professors can decide on how course grade percentages are going to be graded, most will work on midterms and final exams, course final projects, term papers, quizzes, and the like. All of which are summative assessment-oriented.

ELT article published by Prof. Jonathan Acuña at http://reflective-online-teaching.blogspot.com/

In my particular case, being a language instructor, we language teachers tend to be rather formative, since we have to deal with helping students to develop their second or foreign language. Language instructors do use summative assessment tools to grade learners, but there is a tendency of transforming these tools into formative ones to strengthen areas in which students are struggling because of the need for recycling in language learning. In content courses in ELT (English Language Teaching), in spite of the absence of “guidelines” for assessment, both types of feedback are somehow present depending on how the instructor is evaluating the learning outcomes in his/her course. How are we instructors affected by this lack of explicitness in assessment guidelines? To start with, let it be borne in mind that summative assessment does not allow teachers to: 1) spot students’ weaknesses and strengths effectively, 2) identify those areas in which learners need extra work, 3) recognize where students are struggling and failing to understand, and 4) address problems in a timely fashion. Feedback can get to students indeed, but it may get a little too late when they are not really learning what they must. Feedback needs to be right on target and timely; otherwise, students will not fully develop the strengths a course is meant to teach them for their career. What can be done to palliate and eradicate this malady in assessment? Basically, what instructors and faculty members ought to do is to move towards a combination of formative and summative assessment. In an

ELT article published by Prof. Jonathan Acuña at http://reflective-online-teaching.blogspot.com/

online scenario, formative assessment is closely related to one’s social and teaching presence within a learning platform. This form of assessment can create the “human” bond we are looking forward to having with our students within our learners’ community of learning. The analysis of their “summative” performance can also be used to raise the standards of quality needed for F2F or online teaching and learning.

 To fully develop and comprehend this teaching issue, it’s advisable to research and expand these areas: 1 2 3 4 5 Understanding formative assessment Understanding summative assessment Combining formative and summative feedback Defining assessment guidelines How to give students feedback

Professor Jonathan Acuña-Solano ELT Instructor & Trainer based in Costa Rica NCTE - Costa Rica Affiliate

ELT article published by Prof. Jonathan Acuña at http://reflective-online-teaching.blogspot.com/

Resource Teacher at CCCN Senior ELT Professor at Universidad Latina Freelance ELT Consultant four OUP in Central America For further comments or suggestions, reach me at: @jonacuso – Twitter jonacuso@gmail.com – Gmail Other blogs and sites I often write for my students at the university are: 1. Pronunciation 1 3. Pronunciation 2 2. Readding Skills 1 4. Computering Applications in Education

Get new ELT material and ideas by visiting my curated topics on http://paper.li/ and http://scoop.it/
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