Formal vs Informal Assessment
Assessments are important tools that aid the teachers in gaining a better insight into the learning graphs of their students. Assessments help teachers to assess better their students as to whether or not they are grasping the lessons so that they will be able to take correct decisions. There are two major types of assessments namely formal and informal assessments. There are differences between formal and informal assessments that make both of them equally important to teachers and educators. Therefore, it is important to know the difference between formal and informal assessment.
What is Formal Assessment?
As the name implies, formal assessments are formal ways of finding out how much a student has learnt or improved during the instructional period. These include exams, diagnostic tests, achievement tests, screening and intelligence tests, etc. All formal assessments have standardized methods of administering the tests. They also have a formal method of grading as well as interpreting those grades thereby allowing the teacher to assess the performance or the level of skill of a student quite succinctly. In a text school book at the end of every lesson, there are various kinds of exercises that are meant to assess whether the student has learnt the concept presented in the lesson and whether the student can solve the problems based upon the subject matter. There are right or wrong answer patterns, and a student is graded based upon his or her answers in an answer sheet.
The performance of students on formal assessment tools enables teachers to know instantly where the students stand in comparison to each other and also in relation to the instructions given by them. These kinds of assessment tools also help in motivating the students to get higher scores in order to be rewarded for their performance, while such rewards in turn, encourage the students to improve themselves in the future as well.
What is Informal Assessment?
Informal assessment tools are tools that can judge and evaluate students’ performance and skill levels without making use of standardized tests and scoring patterns. There are no standardized tools to measure or evaluate the performances in these assessment tools. The best examples of informal assessments are projects, experiments and presentations given by students in classrooms and other platforms. Some also consider debating and peer teaching as examples of informal assessments. One way of assessing the skills of students is to ask them questions that they are required to answer in front of other students.
What is the difference between Formal and Informal Assessment?
• Formal assessments evaluate the performance of students on the basis of their grades in standardized tests whereas informal assessments are qualitative in nature and do not have standardized tools for evaluation.
• Sometimes stopping in between lectures and observing students, to see their level of involvement, can be a way of informal assessment whereas tests, quizzes, essays, lab reports, etc. remain important tools of formal assessment.
• Formal assessments are standardized and have criteria for evaluation while informal assessments are subjective, and there are no criteria to evaluate the performance.
Some students become nervous when taking formal assessments and do not perform to their true potential while there are also students who become nervous when teacher suddenly asks them to answer. Therefore, teachers need to have a healthy mix of both kinds of assessments to evaluate the skills of their students.