Preparing and Identifying Candidates: Formative Vs. Summative Exams

By Tom Gottschalk, COO, Medical Educator

Allied Health, EMS and Nurse educators are tasked with preparing and identifying candidates who are qualified for their chosen profession. Plus, they are mandated to assure their learners can pass their credentialing exams the first time.

One of the ways a program can confirm that they have met their objectives is to effectively deploy formative and summative exams the right way at the correct time.

Below are definitions for the masses and a refresher course for others:

Formative exams, (quizzes, knowledge evaluations, etc.) are given with the specific intent of providing the student with feedback on how they are doing. They are given with a goal to inform the student and instructor on strengths and weaknesses so that their performances can be made better over time. Class quizzes, both in class and take homes, are a common example of Formative Evaluation in most classes.

Summative exams, (tests, module evaluations, etc.) are given as a means of measuring whether a student, program, or class have met specified standards or not. These evaluations are typically given at the end of a program, semester or term and are not designed to provide feedback/remediation. Final Exams and mid-terms for the school would be examples of Summative Evaluations.

Are you able to determine a difference at your school?
Are you blueprinting the higher level summative evaluations for your school?
Are your grade book and syllabi reflective of this difference above?

In order to defend your methods during peer reviews and accreditation site visits and self-study activity, you answer must be yes on all fronts. If you answered no, not sure, or inspired to know more, then let us know. We would love to show you how to make the difficult easy!

If you have any questions about this article I would be more than happy to assist! Please contact me or call 616-818-7877.