Confused about the difference between summative and formative evaluation? Did you know there are two other kinds of assessment that we rarely talk about in education? This image from my upcoming book shows where they typically apply in the development lifecycle.
Robert Stakes analogy for formative vs summative evaluation is one of my favorites: “When the cook tastes the soup, that’s formative. When the guests taste the soup, that’s summative“.
- Formative evaluation tends to focus on the process and normally takes place during development and before the intervention has been deployed.
- Summative evaluation normally takes place after deployment and focuses on its overall effects.
- Confirmative evaluation is normally performed after the summative evaluation has been complete for some time, and its purpose is to confirm that the instruction is still effective weeks, months, and even years later. This is rarely done in formal education, partly (but not entirely) for practical reasons.
- Predictive evaluation takes place before the instruction is even developed. This kind of evaluation can help us decide whether or not to proceed with a project before we have devoted too much time or too many resources to back out. It can also give us information we need to know to be able to proceed with confidence.