How can I use both formative and summative assessment to enhance (or at least not interfere with) intrinsic motivation? Week 9


Using formative assessments in the classroom. if done right, with immediate feedback can motivate students to take control of their learning. Students need to be informed of the purpose and their role of assessments.   When students know more about the purpose and they see how they can benefit from the assessments they will take control and intrinsically motivate themselves to doing better with learning.

Formative assessments can be as simple as a thumbs-up from students that they understand to taking a test at the end of a chapter. Cauley and McMillan state in their article, Formative Assessment Techniques to Support Student Motivation and Achievement, that teachers miss understand what formative assessment is and that, “Formative assessment is a process through which assessment-elicited evidence of student learning is gathered and instruction is modified in response to feedback.” As teachers we need to gather our information make adjustments to our instructional procedures and give the feedback to the students efficiently so they can adjust their current learning tactics. This feedback can enhance the intrinsic motivation in our students. As Couley and McMillan continue to state, “As long as the environment in which formative assessment is practiced is supportive and trusting, a classroom that demonstrates these characteristics at a high level will have the most positive effect on motivation and learning. Formative assessment, then, is a planned process to the extent that the teacher consciously and constantly absorbs evidence of student performance and then uses this information productively, resulting in increased student motivation and engagement.” Our classroom needs to support students in a manner that they trust teachers and their peers in order to blossom in that environment. Teachers must continuously work at keeping their environment safe for students, so they can be motivated to take a risk and build their intrinsic motivation. Students learn the following from their formative assessment (Cauley and McMillan, 2):

  1. Frequent, ongoing assessment allows both for fine-tuning of instruction and student focus on progress.
  2. Immediate assessment helps ensure meaningful feedback.
  3. Specific, rather than global, assessments allow students to see concretely how they can improve.
  4. Formative assessment is consistent with recent constructivist theories of learning and motivation

When we teach our students what formative assessment does for them they can learn to use the feedback to enhance their learning skills. Students need to learn to value learning and this will help enhance their intrinsic motivation to continue to learn.

At the high school level for mathematics, I emphasize the purpose of their work is to practice what they need to so when they take the assessment they can show what they know. So the formative assessment, in my classroom, is presented to the students as an opportunity to “show me what they know so I can teach them what they don’t know.” This takes the stress of having to know everything on the test. The students know that I will analyze the test to figure out what still needs to be taught and they have an opportunity to retake the assessment. This helps the students with the mindset of this is finalized and they can’t fix it. The anxiety level goes down due to the thinking this is just checking on my knowledge of the topic and the unknown concepts can still be learned. With the anxiety level being lower helps the students to intrinsically motivate themselves to do their best and focus on learning what was revealed by the assessment.

A summative assessment in the classroom can be a final project, a presentation or an end the semester assessment.  As for the summative assessments the students need to know that this is just a moment in time and it will show them where they are at compared to other students in the class, school, state or nation. There is so much emphasize on these test that we have to help the students use the test to challenge themselves to prepare by learning. When students understand that these scores can be a placement in the future for them they can see the importance of expressing their knowledge to the best of their ability on the assessment. By scoring poorly or cheating which inflates their score in comparison to what they know would miss place them in ability level classes. Most of the students want to understand the purpose behind what they have to do and once they understand the purpose they will be more cautious with the decisions that they will make in the future.

Changes need to be made because the stakes are so high that students think they have to cheat. According to Kohn, he states that teachers need to bond with the students in a manner that the students care about the teacher as a person so the level of relationship is a respectful relationship and the student wouldn’t risk cheating. When students don’t have a relationship with the teacher they are more inclined to cheat to improve the grade in the class. Another change that teachers need to make assignments relevant, not boring, or not overwhelming that is genuinely engaging and meaningful to students so they are engaged into the learning. Students’ want to be a part of this class where they are heard and have their opinions respected. School also play a role in creating an environment where students will cheat in order to reach goals or win awards. The good grades, honor roll recognition, and parents offer “financial inducements” for good report cards (Kohn, 2). This needs to change to the process and move away from the product. This competition raises the states to where students will take the risk of cheating instead of learning the concept. Students need to “learn for the sake of learning” (Kohn, 3). As teachers we need to create a classroom that enhances the “goal of figuring out” different concepts that are real to the students. Where the students learn to “think” and use their skills to apply to a task at hand.

By teaching the students to think, brings us to skills that need to be taught and a great skill of presentation can be brought to a another level by using Lewin and Shoemaker four contexts where verbal exchanges are fostered:

  • “Argumentation in the classroom
  • Formal speeches in front of the class followed by questions and answers
  • Rotating mini-speeches to small groups
  • Substantive dialogue between a student and the teacher”

Lewin and Shoemaker give great topics that relate to students. The topics need to be relevant to the students so they will have a purpose for their researcher and be strong in their presentation and not read their paper to the class. When students present, it can be to small groups as well as large groups with an emphasis on speaking not reading. The speeches can be spread throughout a few days so that it isn’t all done in one day. This will help keep the students interest in other students’ presentation. Another exchange is to have a substantive dialogue between the student and the teacher. This will give you a better grasp of what the student knows than what an assessment could give you.

Students need to have immediate feedback while learning a new task. A simple, “atta boy” for a positive comment isn’t enough. The students want to hear specifics of what they are doing is correct and specifics of what needs to be corrected. When students hear exactly what they are doing right it will motivate them to continue to try to learn more. Teachers need incorporate more feedback to motivate students to learn. As students are successful they will appreciate learning and hopefully learn to love learning. As teacher of influence we need to pursued students to do well for themselves. When they want to learn and take the controls of their learning we know we have done our job.

Challenge! I challenge you to share the assessments you will use for your UBD unit, and explain their value for intrinsic learning!

During my UBD unit I will be using several formative assessments.

  • While teaching I will ask for understanding to check how well they are recalling or receiving information. I will than assess my instruction and their learning tactics and make adjustments accordingly. This will help the students to see how their learning skills are working for them and make adjustments accordingly. The immediate feedback that I will give will have specific detail to the task what the student is doing correctly. This will help the students’ confidence and they will adjust their attention to details and improve their knowledge of the concept.
  • During their practice time I will assess individuals or individual problems to see how successful they are doing. If they are successfully working with the concepts I will then look for students that are struggling and give individual instructions. With the monitoring of student work and assuring the students with praise on what they are doing correctly will open the student to taking in more instructions to assure their success with the assignment.  Students will grade their own paper before turning it in.  They will have a chance to make corrections if they recognize something that they did throughout the paper.  They can go back to their desk and correct it before finishing grading their paper.
  • We will use technology for immediate feedback to the students. This program will inspire students to see if they can win a “million dollars”. I will have the students keep track of their winnings. Each time they write down their winnings, they will write down the problem and write the proper steps that should have been taken and if they don’t know they can ask for help.   I know that they had not done the order of operations correctly and I can help them assess the error and make the corrections. This program will help the students with all the little details in order of operations.
  • At the end of the unit we will take an assessment that will tell me see what still needs to be emphasized in the classroom as we continue in other concepts. The instructional adjustments need to be written in the reflection of the lesson, with the adjustment written into the lesson for next year. Student feedback should be quick in a timely fashion so they can decide if they want to study a section and retake that portion of the test. The final assessment is worth 80% of their grade for this section. Usually assignment run about 20 points and assessments run about 80 points.

(In this class I don’t have any students that fall far below or need modification made to their assessments. I do in other classes and I assess those students through daily dialogue.)


Bond, L. A. (1996). Norm-and criterion-referenced testing. ERIC/AE Digest. Retrieved from:

Cauley, K., McMillan, J. (2010). Formative assessment techniques to support student motivation and achievement. Retrieved from: March 2016

Lewin, Larry, and Shoemaker, Betty Jean. Great performances : Creating Classroom-Based Assessment Tasks (2nd Edition). Alexandria, VA, USA: Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development (ASCD), 2011. ProQuest ebrary. Available: Web. 13 April 2015.

Kohn, A. (2008). Who’s cheating whom? Phi Delta Kappan. Retrieved from: 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: 13 April 2015.

Wheatley, K. F. (2015). Factors that perpetuate test-driven, factory-style schooling: implications for policy and practice. International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research, 10(2). Retrieved from:


One thought on “How can I use both formative and summative assessment to enhance (or at least not interfere with) intrinsic motivation? Week 9

  1. The way you use formative assessment with your students sounds very helpful to them, because their levels of anxiety are lower, and also very informative to you because of the quality of data you are collecting related to your students’ learning. I appreciate how you pointed out that by explaining the purpose of formative assessments to students, they are able to see the benefits which leads to higher intrinsic motivation. That’s probably something which I don’t do enough, and I find that when I don’t it is obvious that students won’t always try their best. I’m more likely to hear a remark like “This doesn’t count toward my grade, so it doesn’t matter.” This has been a tricky thing for me to smoothly put into practice. It sounds like you’re having some great success!

    Likewise, I appreciate you reminding me how it benefits students to hear about the purpose of summative assessments, including “high stakes” standardized tests. When you tie it directly to their lives and how it prepares them for their futures it is much more likely to lead to intrinsic motivation.


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