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Formative and Summative Assessment in Art

By The Arty Teacher - July 15, 2023

Formative assessment and summative assessment are two different types of evaluation that are used to assess student learning.

Formative Assessment in Art

Formative assessment is a form of ongoing evaluation that is used to monitor student progress and provide feedback on their learning. The goal of formative assessment is to help students improve their learning and performance as their work progresses.

What are the student’s strengths and weaknesses? Praise their strengths and tell them how to do even better.

Formative assessment in art can be done in different ways. For example:

Reflecting on the Student’s Previous Grades. The most basic formative assessment is to look at see where your students are currently at with their progress. This may be looking at the grades you have put in your mark book and taking an average. You may want to dig a bit deeper and see how they are achieving with particular tasks. What are their strengths and weaknesses? Do they need to improve their research pages? Or drawing? Do they need more opportunities to demonstrate their creativity?

Marking Work. Marking work can be both formative and summative. It is formative if you treat it as part of an ongoing process throughout a period of time to help the student improve. For example, you might give feedback on a drawing, giving advice on how to improve. Getting into the habit of using ‘EBI:’ which stands for ‘Even Better If’ works well for some people. You could ask the student to reflect back on this advice when they next do a drawing. If their drawing improves throughout the year, you can use the best end grade to go towards their end-of-year summative grade.

Observation. Students may have been spending a lot of time working on a piece of art and you need to assess work mid-way through. (Perhaps you have a reporting deadline and want to give them the best grade you can). This can be done outside of class, or, if they are focussed on the task, you can walk around with your planner and note down a grade or rough percentage.

Observation and Verbal Feedback. Art teachers give verbal feedback all the time. This may be a clear instruction on how to improve a piece of work, or a discussion to encourage the student to decide how they will improve a piece of work.

Summative Assessment in Art

Summative assessment is a form of evaluation that takes place at the end of a course, unit or term. It is typically used to evaluate student achievement and to assign a final grade. Summative assessment of art may be a single grade for a whole project, or a series of grades for different aspects of a project. The goal of summative assessment is to provide an accurate and fair evaluation of student learning and performance.

In short, Formative assessments are used to improve learning during a course and Summative assessments are used to evaluate learning at the end of a course.

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The Arty Teacher

Sarah Crowther is The Arty Teacher. She is a high school art teacher in the North West of England. She strives to share her enthusiasm for art by providing art teachers around the globe with high-quality resources and by sharing her expertise through this blog.

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