Perspectives: Assessing for Science Learningby: Michele H. Lee and Sandra K. Abell

Journal ArticleDigital resources are stored online in your NSTA Library.

Often the word assessment conjures up the notion of tests or quizzes that occur at the end of a lesson or a unit. These summative assessments take place when an instructional sequence is completed, providing a summary of what students learned. The summative information reports a student’s status for purposes of grading, evaluation, or certification. Although results may be provided to parents, school districts, and other external agencies, these results typically have minimal bearing on classroom instruction and student learning. In contrast, formative assessment is used to gain information that improves instruction and advances student learning. Just as a doctor diagnoses symptoms before determining how to alleviate them, a teacher must diagnose student ideas before determining how to help students learn scientific ideas (Osborne and Freyberg 1985).

  • Elementary
Publication Date

Community ActivitySaved in 402 Libraries

Reviews (2)
  • on Fri Dec 01, 2017 10:25 PM

After I read this article, I learned what the formative assessment is and what strategies for formative assessment are. I like this article because it is well-organized. It has four parts to solve four questions. From the first part, I learned the difference between formative assessment and summative assessment. The summative assessment is used at the end of the semester to grade students. However, Lee and Abell (2007) say, “formative assessment is used to gain information that improves instruction and advances student learning,” which contrasts to summative assessment. From the second part, I learned that formative assessment is important for science. Teachers could get feedback from the assessment to adjust their lesson plans to match individual student needs. From the third and fourth parts, I learned that using open-ended questions is easier to assess students’ understandings about science. Students should explain their reasons so teachers can discern students’ misunderstandings. In addition, formative assessment can provide information about students’ prior knowledge and learning difficulties which can help teachers improve their instructions. There are some suggestions for improving formative assessment in elementary science classrooms. I think that they are all useful for me. For example, teachers should design varieties of formative assessments that involve different types of student performances.

Yu Ni
Yu Ni

  • on Fri Nov 11, 2011 10:07 AM

There are two types of assessment described in this article -- formative and summative. This article describes each but focuses on the need for formative assessment. Reading the article we learn the benefits of formative assessment to students, what techniques in formative assessment are effective, and how teachers can implement them in their classrooms.

Adah  (San Antonio, TX)
Adah (San Antonio, TX)

Free - NSTA Members

$1.29 - Nonmembers

Login or Create a Free Account to add this resource to your library.