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Formative and Summative Feedback in Supervision

(This post includes a downloadable summative evaluation form!)

Summative and formative evaluations are both important components of clinical supervision, but they serve different purposes and occur at different times in the supervisory process. Let’s briefly review each type and highlight their key differences and importance:


Formative Evaluation:

1. Purpose: To provide ongoing feedback and guidance to improve the supervisee's skills and knowledge.

2. Timing: Conducted regularly throughout the supervision process.

3. Focus: Identifies areas for growth and development, addressing specific skills or competencies.

4. Outcome: Used to modify and enhance the supervisee's learning and performance.

5. Importance:

   - Promotes continuous learning and improvement

   - Allows for timely adjustments in supervision strategies

   - Builds a supportive relationship between supervisor and supervisee

   - Encourages self-reflection and self-assessment


Summative Evaluation:

1. Purpose: To assess the overall performance and competence of the supervisee.

2. Timing: Typically conducted at specific and identified time periods.

3. Focus: Evaluates the supervisee's overall competence and readiness for independent practice.

4. Outcome: Often results in a final point score, grade, and possible professional development plans, or remediation plans, or decisions about future practice.

5. Importance:

   - Ensures professional standards are met

   - Protects client welfare by verifying competence

   - Provides documentation for credentialing or advancement

   - Offers a comprehensive view of the supervisee's progress


Key Differences:

1. Timing: Formative is ongoing; summative is typically at the end of a predetermined time.

2. Purpose: Formative aims to improve; summative aims to assess.

3. Feedback: Formative provides specific, actionable feedback; summative gives an overall evaluation.

4. Stakes: Formative is generally lower-stakes; summative can be high-stakes with significant consequences.


Both types of evaluation are crucial in clinical supervision:

- Formative evaluation ensures continuous growth and improvement throughout the supervision process.

- Summative evaluation verifies that the supervisee has met the required standards for practice.


Together, they create a comprehensive approach to developing competent professionals while safeguarding client welfare and maintaining professional standards.

LPC-Associate Evaluation
Download PDF • 111KB

Please feel free to download and utilize the attached LPC Associate Evaluation form.  It’s included in the LPC Supervisor Toolkit available at!

...supervision matters!

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