Date: Thu, 12 Aug 2004 21:25:36 -0700 Sender: American Evaluation Association Discussion List
"I often read in the literature and hear on the conference circuit people using the terms 'assessment' and 'evaluation' interchangeably, as if they were synonyms. Even more confusing, I have found the word assessment is used to define evaluation, and vice versa . . . . Personally, I don't think we need two terms to explain identical concepts (unless they occur in two completely unrelated fields wherein the risk of confusion is minimal). Certainly academic and student affairs assessment are related enough that we can share terms. . . . I have documented my thoughts in an internal white paper to my constitutents and would be happy to share it if you will drop me a note privately."
I hope Mark will place his white paper on the web so as to increase
the readership and decrease mailing expenses. His post stimulated a
12-post (as of 12 Aug 2004 16:20:00-0700) ASSESS thread accessible at
A similar thread (4 posts) titled "distinction between evaluation and
assessment was initiated by Jeanne Hubelbank (2003) on EvalTalk and
is accessible at the EvalTalk archives
Nevertheless, I'm with Mark Davenport in preferring to make no distinction between "assessment" and "evaluation." In a post titled "Re: A taxonomy" Hake (2003a), I proposed an assesment taxonomy for consideration and comment that is best presented in quadrant form cf., Stokes (1999):
plus Y PUBLIC | | Scientific Research |
<--FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT | SUMMATIVE ASSESSMENT --> _ plus X
0| | Action Research | Institutional Research | | | PRIVATE
For educational research, the X-axis represents a continuum from pure FORMATIVE to pure SUMMATIVE assessment of either teaching or learning. NO DISTINCTION IS MADE BETWEEN "ASSESSMENT' AND EVALUATION." The Y axis represents a continuum from complete privacy to complete public disclosure of results.
The locations of various types of research in terms of the type of assessment they offer are shown as:
"Scientific Research" see e.g. Shavelson & Towne (2002): upper two quadrants - always public and anywhere in the continuum between formative and summative.
"Action Research" [see e.g. Feldman & Minstrell (2000) and Bransford et al.]: lower left quadrant - usually private to some degree, and usually formative to some degree.
"Institutional Research": lower right quadrant - usually private to some degree, and usually summative to some degree, although it could approach the formative for those who study and attempt to improve institutional practice.
(a) "classroom research" can be either "scientific" or "action" research.
(b) "institutional research" is generally NOT formative from the standpoint of classroom teachers.
In my opinion, the science education use of pre/post testing [for reviews see Hake (2002; 2004a,b,c)] is usually formative for both action and scientific research, since the object is to improve classroom teaching and learning, NOT to rate instructors or courses.
Richard Hake, Emeritus Professor of Physics, Indiana University
24245 Hatteras Street, Woodland Hills, CA 91367
Bransford, J.D., A.L. Brown, R.R. Cocking, eds. 2000. How People
Learn: Mind, Brain, Experience, and School: Expanded Edition. Nat.
Acad. Press; online at
Feldman, A. & J. Minstrell. 2000. "Action research as a research
methodology for the study of the teaching and learning of science,"
in E. Kelly & R. Leash, eds., "Handbook of Research Design in
Mathematics and Science Education." Lawrence Erlbaum; online at
Hake, R.R. 2002. "Lessons from the physics education reform effort,"
Ecology and Society 5(2): 28; online at
Hake, R.R. 2003a. "Re: A taxonomy"; online at
Hake, R.R. 2003b. "Re: A taxonomy"; online at
Hake, R.R. 2004a. " Re: Measuring Content Knowledge," online at
Hake, R.R. 2004b. "Re: Measuring Content Knowledge," online at
Hake, R.R. 2004c. "Design-Based Research: A Primer for Physics
Education Researchers," submitted to the "American Journal of
Physics" on 10 June 2004; online as reference 34 at
Hubelbank, J. 2003. "distinction between evaluation and assessment."
EvalTalk post of 13 Nov 2003 10:52:00-0500; online at
Leamnson, R. 2003. "A Taxonomy," STLHE-L/POD post of 9 Jul 2003
10:32:02-0400; online at
Shavelson, R.J. & L. Towne. 2002. "Scientific Research in Education,"
National Academy Press; online at
Stokes, D. E. (1997). "Pasteur's quadrant: Basic science and technological innovation." Brookings Institution Press.
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