In class this week we talked about evaluation at length. Some activities included taking a survey, sorting the survey questions into groups, and then also listening to a lecture about formative assessments.
I had a hard time really seeing the difference between formative assessment and summative assessment at a larger more theoretical level. What exactly makes something formative and something summative? I heard a lot in class that the difference was context and incentives mostly. Summative assements are for a grade and at the end of a project or process. But I did not really understand how it make it different from a methodological level. If I give you a survey and tell you this is the first survey of the rest of your life, does that make it a formative assessment? Are the questions different, and how? There is also still the sticky situation that Librarians still do not give grades. Is the concept of formative assessment useful when you cannot create a true summative assessment in your field? Perhaps this is a more helpful way of looking at evaluation for teachers than for librarians.
Though we talked about evaluation for almost two hours, I felt very unsure at the end of it what I was supposed to do with the information at the end. Unlike our screencast conversation, very little of it was prescriptive. We looked at some questions that people ask, but we didn’t really talk about dos and don’ts. I understand I wasn’t supposed to change scales, but I sort of already knew that from having taken surveys from before. We learned that it was bad form to do a long survey with multiple parts, but that seems like it was more of a “plan ahead” question where you allow users the time to fill out the survey you want. But we really didn’t talk much about methodology, about research questions, about aims and objectives and how those different aims and objects would affect methodology. As an aside, there is of course a rich literature source in the social sciences which I wished we had used instead of focusing on how teachers do it.
I plan on doing survey assessment during my future career on multiple levels, both as tools of assessment of myself and as a tool of assessment of my users and theirs needs. I hope in the future we go through more methods for pooling assessment in more details in later classes.