Formative vs Summative Evaluation
Formative evaluation information is collected during an event.
An "event" may be a class, a full-length course, or even several quarters for a faculty member. Formative evaluation provides information to improve. For example, giving feedback on a student's first draft is formative feedback. Formative information is NOT used to make decisions about the person or people involved. Formative information is usually given only to the person who is being evaluated. Formative evaluation is sometimes called "assessment."
Summative evaluation information is collected at the end of an event or a class.
It "sums up." Summative evaluations are usually used to make decisions about people. Grades are an example of summative evaluation of students. Student ratings of teaching given at the end of the quarter are summative evaluations of instructors. They are often used to make decisions about an instructor, such as whether to re-hire a lecturer or confer a merit raise. Summative information may be given to people other than the person being evaluated.
Student ratings of teaching forms are often used for both purposes.
SRTs are expected to provide information to the instructor so that he or she can improve from quarter to quarter. They are also expected to provide information about an instructor's quality so that a decision can be made about the instructor, such as a tenure decision or a merit pay decision. However, an SRT must be very carefully designed, and the data gathered by SRTs must be appropriately used, in order for the form to meet these opposing purposes.