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Formative and Summative Evaluations Essay

There are many types of evaluation but the most common and basic types that distinguish them are formative and summative evaluations. The two are both concerned with evaluating programs or systems, but they differ specifically in time of execution and goals. Formative evaluation is done while a program or system is being formed or applied. It helps identify certain problems and weaknesses to help improve the program being evaluated. Different from summative evaluation, this type is process-based, as it is concerned with the process and other matters related to it at the time of application.

Formative evaluations are applied during design phase up to the time the process is about to end. During design phase, formative evaluation can help identify needs, structures and other requirements to initiate the program or structure to be implemented. It helps to avoid errors as early as possible by anticipating them before application. One form of formative evaluation at this stage is the research and survey where one gathers opinions of other people knowledgeable about the system to be employed. In business setting, focus group discussions eliciting what the market prefers are useful in the design of a new product to be introduced.

In educational setting, teachers of the same level confer together to construct a syllabus. They identify learning objectives to be met before deciding on the materials and techniques to use in order to facilitate learning process. After the design phase, formative evaluation can be of use during the introduction phase. At this time, evaluation is necessary to know whether the approach applied is effective or not. In the business setting, marketing systems such as media advertising is evaluated to determine market response at the initial stage.

If a product picks up well in the market, the strategy used to introduce it may have been very effective, otherwise, it shall not be employed again in the future. Of course, advertisers cannot just wait and see till a phenomenon occurs, that is why past strategies that proved effective, for instance, TV advertisements are being employed to introduce a new line. In the educational setting, the motivational activity used to capture learner interest is evaluated to see if an activity, for instance, listening to a song will elicit a more positive response from students.

Formative evaluations are also of use during application phase. It serves to identify errors or weaknesses of a program in order to provide corrective or remedial measures. For example, in the event of decrease in product sales, aspects that relate to the decrease are identified. This can also be done through conducting surveys. If the market identifies high pricing as the factor, the company may decide to decrease the price accordingly in order to meet sales projection. In the education setting, quizzes, recitation and observation are employed to detect why students are not doing well.

If the test administered proves to be too difficult, remedial or tutorial sessions may be conducted and retake of the same or a much easier test may be done. Summative evaluations are basically different from formative evaluations based on time of execution. Summative evaluations are done after the application phase in order to determine effectiveness of a program based on outcomes. Different from formative evaluation which is process-based, summative evaluations are outcome-based. They rely on outcomes to identify errors and systems to be repudiated should the same process, application, object, or activity occur in the future.

It other words, it is a tool used after commencement to see effectiveness based on result. Summative assessment can take several forms. In Trochim (2006), this type of evaluation can be subdivided. First is the outcome evaluation where variables are evaluated as to whether they met the target outcomes initially identified. In the business arena, it focuses on finding out whether the overall sales tie up with the projected sales. In the education sector, teachers or administrators see whether objectives are met after the lesson or program implementation.

Another subdivision is impact evaluation, whose objective is to assess the overall effects of the program, expected or unexpected. Thus, endorsers of a new product identify the overall performance based on production, promotions, sales, services, etc. They identify errors that occur throughout the program in order to form conclusions. In the same way, teachers see the overall impact of a lesson or program on students, based on their responses, behavior, and performance after the implementation. Summative evaluations are also used to evaluate cost-effectiveness.

This is a very important consideration especially in the business sector. A good sales performance is not enough to claim profit. Thus, it is important for a company to determine cost-effectiveness of the whole system needed to come up with the new product. Likewise, the teacher determines the cost of the program not only in terms of money but also in terms of time devoted to teach effectively the lesson. Another objective of summative evaluations is the secondary analysis which is conducted to “reexamine existing data” in order to identify certain methods or applications that should have been employed.

This is very useful in order to learn from past mistakes and adopt changes in the reimplementation of the same program. Meta-analysis is also done during summative evaluations to arrive at an overall judgment of the program. This involves integration of outcome estimates from other studies to be used in the present evaluation. Formative and summative evaluation each serves a different purpose. To ensure effectiveness of a program, both should be conducted at the right time, ideally by those who implemented the program. Inclusion of the two in business, educational and other settings will definitely help improve structures and response of the target population.

Works Cited

Bhola, H. S. “What is Summative Evaluation? ” 1990. Lingual Links Library Website. 8 October 2008 <http://www. sil. org/lingualinks/Literacy/ReferenceMaterials/GlossaryOfLiteracyTerms/WhatIsSummativeEvaluation. htm>. Trochim, William M. “Introduction to Evaluation. ” 2006. Research Methods Knowledge Base Website. 7 October 2008 <http://www. socialresearchmethods. net/kb/intreval. htm>.

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