Week 13

Essential question: How can I use both formative and summative assessments to enhance (or at least not interfere with) intrinsic motivation?

Looking at this question I want to clearly define what formative and summative assessments are and, also, what intrinsic motivation is.   According to the Formative and Summative article that I read from http://tlc.provost.gwu.edu/formative-and-summative-assessment, summative assessment takes place at the end of a course, usually in the form of a test or project that translates to the student’s finally grade. Formative assessment is ongoing and may involve tests, projects, or other assignments. With formative assessments, students can use self-check to improve on problem areas. At the same time, teachers are able to see where students are having trouble with material and make appropriate adjustments. According to Cherry (2015), intrinsic motivation “refers to behavior that is driven by internal rewards. In other words, the motivation to engage in a behavior arises from within the individual because it is intrinsically rewarding”. The student wants to do it because they enjoy doing it not because they have too.

When I think of my own teaching, I do both. I perform summative assessments at an end of a unit, like when I give a quiz on what was covered. I also administer formative assessments, like for projects where I check in with students as they are progressing through the project. This also gives them a chance to improve on any suggestions that I have for them. I also try to incorporate opportunities for intrinsic motivation into my projects. I do this by appealing to students’ likes and interests so they engage with the project. I find that when students are interested they become more motivated and want to do learn more about the topic. They also remember what they learned.

Thinking about tests, I heard that, at my school, teachers are going to be evaluated on our students’ standardized test scores. They are thinking of starting this next year with math and language arts, since they have tests for those. Social studies and science will most likely be the next year. I don’t think we should be evaluated on how our students score on these tests. Some students don’t test well; some don’t care and some just don’t read the directions right. Should teachers be penalized for these mistakes? Does a student’s inability to perform well on a test mean the teacher isn’t providing an effective learning experience?

This also brings up cheating. When students feel pressured and teachers feel pressured, this will lead to cheating. According to Kohn, in “Who’s Cheating Whom?” (2008), more cheating took place when teachers emphasized good grades, high test scores, and being smart. If teachers are going to be evaluated based on students’ scores then teachers are going to be teaching to the test. If they know what is going to be on the test, then this will happen. I think things like field trips or fun activities will be taken out, because teachers will be feeling pressure to make sure students get this information. One of my co-workers who teaches social studies also told us how and what are they going to evaluate us on. With social studies, we will have to try to go over the world and that is a lot of information as it is. She said that she would like to know what they are going to test the kids on because then we will know what to teach the kids. This is an example of how evaluating teachers on their students’ test scores results in teaching to the test.

I found the information on competition in “Who’s Cheating Whom?” to be very interesting. Kohn writes that “competition is perhaps the single most toxic ingredient to be found in a classroom, and it is also a reliable predictor of cheating.” I am not sure if I agree with this. I have a few boys in my class who are very competitive with each other. They compare their grades, how they did on papers, and try to do better than the others. I think this helps them to try harder. It might not be good for all students, but some thrive on competition.

This all comes down to our students. We as teachers want what is best for them. I think tests are necessary. More to the point, they are a fact of life. But to be evaluated on how students score? I feel that is going to change how teachers teach, and that is going to have a negative effect on our efforts to differentiate our instruction. I think it will also result in surface learning. If you have so much to cover then you are not going to spend much time on anything. This makes it hard to take a project-based approach. As we’ve discussed all semester, many students learn best through projects. They take more time, but I think students are more likely to take more information from a project and be more likely to remember what was learned. I just hope that the ones that are making the decisions are thinking of the students and how this will impact them.


Cherry, K. (2015). What Is Intrinsic Motivation? Retrieved April 17, 2015, from http://psychology.about.com/od/motivation/f/intrinsic-motivation.htm

Coon, D. & Mitterer, J. O. (2010). Introduction to psychology: Gateways to mind and behavior with concept maps.Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Formative and Summative Assessment (When you assess) | University Teaching & Learning Center | The George Washington University. (2015). Retrieved April 17, 2015, from http://tlc.provost.gwu.edu/formative-and-summative-assessment

Kohn, A. (2008). Who’s Cheating Whom? Phi Delta Kappan. Retrieved from: http://www.alfiekohn.org/article/whos-cheating/ 13 April 2015.

Tomlinson, Carol Ann, and Moon, Tonya R. (2013) Chapter 6: Assessment, Grading and Differentiation. Assessment and Student Success in a Differentiated Classroom. Alexandria, VA, USA: Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development (ASCD). ProQuest ebrary. Web. Retrieved from:http://egandb.uas.alaska.edu:2081/lib/uasoutheast/reader.action?ppg=135&docID=10774725&tm=1428975296051 13 April 2015.


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