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What Is Summative Assessment: A Practical Guide For Teachers On When And How To Use It

Zoe Benjamin

Are you looking to design a summative assessment that accurately measures your students’ learning progress? It may seem like creating a test is a straightforward task – just jot down some questions and select the answers. But if you aspire to create assessments that genuinely reflect your learners’ abilities and enhance their academic achievements, you need to adopt a considered approach embedding summative assessments into your teaching plans from the start 

In this article, we’ll delve into the benefits and limitations of summative assessments on student achievement and provide recommendations for teachers to improve the effectiveness of summative assessments for their learners.

What is summative assessment?

Examples of summative assessment, formative vs summative assessments, tracking student progress, accountability, motivating students , preparation for external exams, standardisation , how can summative assessment impact student achievement, provides a limited snapshot of student achievement.

  • Closed-book exams may not accurately reflect students’ ability or potential

Comparing students based on summative grades might be unfair

Summative assessments can emphasise memorization, 1. design a summative assessment based on its purpose, 2. offer clear instructions throughout the assessment, 3. ensure consistency in summative assessments from year to year, 4. prepare students in advance.

Summative assessment is an evaluation of students’ current understanding and achievement. It allows teachers to track learners’ progress over a period of time. It is done at the end of teaching unit or several teaching units and can be benchmarked or standardised against other students’ work.

The findings of these assessments can be used to make informed decisions about how to support each student in succeeding and determine whether they have achieved the required learning objectives or content domains. 

Summative assessments can take many forms, including in class tests, exams, projects, or essays, and are often scored to provide a quantifiable measure of students’ performance.

It’s worth saying that in fact there’s nothing intrinsic to an assessment activity that makes it either summative or formative – it’s what you do with the information that you gain from the assessment that determines this.

That said, there are some assessement types that are more commonly used summatively. These include:

  • Benchmark tests given at the start of the year or a unit of work with the intention of comparing the results with future assessment data.
  • Online assessments designed to measure transferable skills and academic aptitude to make predictions and targets for future attainment.
  • Portfolios of work , for subjects such as Art or Photography.
  • A final project following a period of group work.
  • Midterm exams or classroom assessments at the end of a unit of study.
  • Performance assessments that showcase students’ development of new skills.
  • Key stage assessments that form part of a national curriculum.
  • Standardised tests that are sat by students of the same age throughout a country, such as GCSEs and SATs

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The difference between formative and summative assessment is their purpose, design, frequency, and outcomes. While summative assessment is an assessment of learning, formative assessment is an assessment for learning .

Read more: Formative assessment examples

Formative and summative assessments are the two types of assessment that are most prevalent in education literature. The table below shows their main characteristics:

Formative and Summative Assessment

Benefits of summative assessment practices 

The benefits of summative assessment may not be as apparent as those of formative assessment, as they are often less immediate and direct than the advantages gained from ongoing assessment strategies that promote learning.

But summative assessments bring many benefits that enhance teaching and learning.

Summative assessments offer assessment data that is typically used to track student progress over time. This data indicates whether students are making the expected level of progress based on their age and abilities.

The results of summative assessments provide an objective measure of accountability for teachers and students. 

Teachers can use students’ end-of-year or external assessment results in their appraisal meetings to evaluate their teaching approaches. Additionally, students can be held accountable if their results indicate a decrease in effort or underperformance in one or more subjects.

Summative assessments provide high-stakes conditions for students to showcase their capabilities to themselves and others. These assessments motivate students to prepare and revise more thoroughly than they might for other types of evaluations. 

However, lower ability students and those with exam anxiety may be less motivated by summative assessments, which can lead to a decrease in their effort and motivation as the assessment date approaches.

GCSEs and A-Levels are external exams that act as summative assessments at the end of a course. High stakes classroom assessments, such as midterm exams, offer valuable exam practice for time management, meeting assessment objectives, and managing exam anxiety. 

Summative assessments will require students retrieving information from their long term memory which can help to further embed it and support improved performance during external exams.

Summative assessments can provide schools and education systems with objective data to create standardised scores for each learner. This enables individuals and small cohorts to be compared to other students and larger cohorts. 

Standardisation is often used to determine the grade boundaries in external exams.

The manner in which summative assessment is carried out can have a considerable impact on the academic progress of students.

Summative assessment helps:

  • track student progress and identify underachievement, allowing for interventions to be put in place.
  • reveal issues with exam technique.
  • hold students and teachers accountable and increase motivation to improve results.
  • prepare students for external exams, improving long-term memory retrieval and adjusting revision and exam strategies accordingly.

Read more: Adaptive teaching

In all cases above, increased achievement is defined as achieving a higher result in a future summative assessment. 

This may not be a reliable or valid measure of achievement, but until education institutions move away from standardised testing and entry requirements that depend on the results of summative assessments, it is an important measure to consider.

Limitations of summative assessment

Summative assessments are widely used in education to measure student achievement, but they also have limitations every teacher should be aware of:

Summative assessment is limited in that it provides a snapshot of student achievement at one point in time and uses a limited range of assessment strategies.

The validity and appropriateness of summative assessments, particularly external exams, has been scrutinised in the UK after ‘teacher assessed grades’ were used to replace external exams during periods of lockdown.

Closed-book exams may not accurately reflect students’ ability or potential

There is uncertainty about whether closed-book exams that are taken at the end of GCSE and A-Level courses provide an accurate reflection of students’ ability or academic potential.

Students can be coached to perform well on summative assessments, which takes time away from deepening students’ understanding or studying a broader curriculum.

Critics of summative assessment argue that ‘open-book’ assessments would be more appropriate so that students can be tested on their ability to apply and fact-check the material they have access to.

Using summative grades to compare students to each other or to gain entry into a school, college, or university, seems unfair when final grades are so dependent on factors outside of students’ control.

Summative assessments often require students to memorise material, which is becoming an increasingly redundant skill given how readily information is available online.

Time spent memorising material ahead of a summative assessment could be better spent deepening students’ understanding or improving their ability to critically interact with new material.

Summative assessment tips for teachers

As a teacher, designing and administering effective summative assessments can be challenging. Here are some tips to help you create successful summative assessments for your students.

The content of a summative assessment needs to be carefully selected – and this content may vary depending on the intended use of the assessment data.

Let’s consider short formal tests administered at the end of a unit of work or half-term which is based only on the work completed during that time period. Benefits of tests like these include:

  • Increased motivation for students to revise and consolidate learned content
  • An increase in student achievement due to the testing effect
  • Support for process of identifying students who may benefit from intervention (note that summative test results should not be the only method for identifying these students, as discussed above)
  • Provision of feedback on the effectiveness of curriculum design and implementation (the extent to which learning intentions match with learning accomplished)

However, while this type of short formal test has lots of benefits, it is not as useful for providing a longer-term picture of student progress and to measure attainment of more generalised learning goals.

For example, it is unlikely to be appropriate to convert the data collected from an isolated end of unit assessment to a GCSE grade to report to parents as part of a school’s wider monitoring processes. This is because it’s highly likely that different content domains are assessed with each separate unit test, and fluctuations in results may reflect the comparative difficulty of the material covered rather than any meaningful change in a student’s progress.

Ensure the instructions throughout the assessment clearly convey what is required from the student (e.g. show each step of your calculation).

Create a mark scheme or rubric before the assessment is set so that you are clear about what is required from each question and check that the exam instructions accurately explain this to the students. 

On the one hand it’s a good idea to use the same summative assessments each year so that each cohort of students can be compared to cohorts from previous years.

This allows departments to evaluate their own performance and to make adjustments if a cohort’s performance differs significantly from previous years. By including a mixture of recent and past topics on each summative assessment you will utilise the benefits of retrieval practice and spacing.

On the other hand, regular reviews of how you are assessing content throughout the year will help to make sure you meet the needs of each particular cohort of students.

Read more: Retrieval practice activities

Prepare students for summative assessments and reduce exam anxiety by producing practice papers that match the summative assessment in terms of style and content. 

Each spring, we teach booster maths lessons to approximately 10,000 Year 6 pupils across the UK every week as part of our Year 6 SATs revision programme . Each child receives targeted one-to-one maths tuition from a dedicated KS2 SATs tutor who is trained in teaching them how to answer SATs reasoning questions, while also plugging any gaps and misconceptions in maths. This builds their confidence in the style and content of their SATs exams.

Summative assessment is designed to produce a measure of achievement. It is important because it helps teachers to track their students’ progress and gives students an opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge to external organisations such as employers or universities.

An assessment that has a clear purpose and allows comparisons to be made with the results or past or future assessments.

External exams like Year 6 SATs, GCSEs or A-Levels End of year or end of topic exams Benchmark or aptitude tests that measure transferable skills and academic potential

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Summative Assessment and Feedback

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Summative assessments are given to students at the end of a course and should measure the skills and knowledge a student has gained over the entire instructional period. Summative feedback is aimed at helping students understand how well they have done in meeting the overall learning goals of the course.

Effective summative assessments

Effective summative assessments provide students a structured way to demonstrate that they have met a range of key learning objectives and to receive useful feedback on their overall learning. They should align with the course learning goals and build upon prior formative assessments. These assessments will address how well the student is able to synthesize and connect the elements of learning from the entirety of the course into a holistic understanding and provide an opportunity to provide rich summative feedback.

The value of summative feedback

Summative feedback is essential for students to understand how far they have come in meeting the learning goals of the course, what they need further work on, and what they should study next. This can affect later choices that students make, particularly in contemplating and pursuing their major fields of study. Summative feedback can also influence how students regard themselves and their academic disciplines after graduation.

Use rubrics to provide consistency and transparency

A rubric is a grading guide for evaluating how well students have met a learning outcome. A rubric consists of performance criteria, a rating scale, and indicators for the different rating levels. They are typically in a chart or table format. 

Instructors often use rubrics for both formative and summative feedback to ensure consistency of assessment across different students. Rubrics also can make grading faster and help to create consistency between multiple graders and across assignments.

Students might be given access to the rubric before working on an assignment. No criteria or metric within a summative assessment should come as a surprise to the students. Transparency with students on exactly what is being assessed can help them more effectively demonstrate how much they have learned.  

Types of  summative assessments

Different summative assessments are better suited to measuring different kinds of learning. 

Examinations

Examinations are useful for evaluating student learning in terms of remembering information, and understanding and applying concepts and ideas. However, exams may be less suited to evaluating how well students are able to analyze, evaluate, or create things related to what they've learned.

Presentation

A presentation tasks the student with teaching others what they have learned typically by speaking, presenting visual materials, and interacting with their audience. This can be useful for assessing a student's ability to critically analyze and evaluate a topic or content.

With projects, students will create something, such as a plan, document, artifact, or object, usually over a sustained period of time, that demonstrates skills or understanding of the topic of learning. They are useful for evaluating learning objectives that require high levels of critical thinking, creativity, and coordination. Projects are good opportunities to provide summative feedback because they often build on prior formative assessments and feedback. 

With a portfolio, students create and curate a collection of documents, objects, and artifacts that collectively demonstrate their learning over a wide range of learning goals. Portfolios usually include the student's reflections and metacognitive analysis of their own learning. Portfolios are typically completed over a sustained period of time and are usually done by individual students as opposed to groups. 

Portfolios are particularly useful for evaluating how students' learning, attitudes, beliefs, and creativity grow over the span of the course. The reflective component of portfolios can be a rich form of self-feedback for students. Generally, portfolios tend to be more holistic and are often now done using ePortfolios .

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Summative Assessment: What Teachers Need to Know

Weeks or months of study in a classroom generally culminate in a summative assessment. This refers to a test that evaluates a student’s comprehension of the material covered thus far. While other measures, such as homework and quizzes, cover potential or progress made, the essence of a summative assessment is more black and white — either the material has been learned (and taught) or not. As a result, these necessary but controversial assessments bring a lot of stress to both educators and students. Below are some of the key points about end of year assessments and tips for success.

Though they aren’t necessarily fun for teachers and students, summative assessments have a lot of advantages. They provide motivation for students to study and pay attention in class, particularly as they get older and grades become a major indicator of success in college or the working world. They also give great insight to teachers: if none of the children in a class score above a 2 or 3 on an AP exam, it is much more likely to be the result of poor or off-topic instruction than a class of students unable to complete the work.

Precisely because summative assessments reflect so closely on teacher performance, many instructors are accused of “teaching to the test.” In other words, if a state test is known to heavily favor anagrams or analogies, students may be asked to spend hours drilling those exercises instead of reading and writing to grow their vocabularies naturally. Conversely, no assessment is perfect, so even students with excellent knowledge of the material may run into questions that trip them up, especially if they get nervous under pressure. As a result, summative assessment is not always the most accurate reflection of learning.

Measurements and markers

Summative assessment gives students a level, usually numerical, and placement in which they can be compared against both other students and the standards for their grade. This is most commonly seen in:

  • Literacy tests
  • College entrance exams like the SAT or ACT
  • End of year school, county, or statewide testing
  • Special program learning, such as Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate

Performance is often shown both in percentage of questions answered right, and by comparing performance with the rest of the class, state, or nation. A student scoring in the 90th percentile, for example, completed more questions correctly than 90 percent of other test-takers. This sort of competition indicates benchmark performances and helps admissions officers make informed decisions, but it can also cause undue anxiety for students who struggle more than their peers in certain areas.

Unique adaptations

There are non-traditional ways to use summative assessments to enhance the learning process. Many teachers find it useful to:

  • Create the test after the learning plan. Though it may seem obvious, the best evaluation covers the material the instructor and curriculum meant to emphasize. If, for instance, a teacher holds a final exam in literature to the constant standard of “Does this student read deeper into the text?” he or she will have crafted a summative assessment that stays on point with learning goals.
  • Offer different options. Standardized state and national tests have very little room for re-imagining. A classroom final, however, could be given as a visual/audio presentation, a long-form test, or an individual essay. By allowing students to explain the material in a medium they feel comfortable with, teachers get an accurate picture of their understanding.
  • Move it out of the classroom. Unfortunately, many students decide early on that they are not strong in academics. By making the final resemble a real-world application, much of the pressure and stigma is removed, along with the temptation to plagiarize. Have biology students identify animals in nature or at a preserve, or have business students create job descriptions and resumes. This style of assessment can cover a broad range of material, and more closely emulates performance reviews and projects in a career field.

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What is Summative Assesment? Examples, Importance & More

Teaching is not just an intellectual process anymore. Today, it is also a logical process. Teachers need to assess individual students’ performance with tools like a summative assessment to provide customized classroom learning environments. 

Therefore, modern teachers use formative and summative assessments to improve learning standards. Both assessments help educators achieve high learning goals in the classrooms. 

But which assessment method is better in today’s education system?

This blog post will help teachers and learners understand summative assessments. We will also share the differences between formative and summative assessments . 

What is Summative Assessment? 

What is summative assessment infographic by Chapman King

A summative assessment is an evaluation conducted at the end of a course or academic year. It depends on the grading and scoring system. Some of the common summative assessments are:

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  • Mid-term tests
  • Reports 
  • Detailed papers
  • End-of-class tests, etc. 

The main objective of summative assessment is to evaluate the overall progress. This assessment shows how much a student has learned through a course, subject, or project in a particular timeline. 

These assessments have high value as they take place in a controlled environment. You can use summative assessments to evaluate the comprehensive performance of the classroom to gain more insight. In a way, summative assessments can help you in two ways:

  • Evaluate what your students have learned during the course
  • Understand how prepared your students are for the next academic year 

Summative Assessment Examples

Notes scattered on a table

1. In-depth reports

A typical SA example is asking students to pick a topic and write a full report. It helps students research in-depth and use their creativity to write a report. You can evaluate passion, intelligence, and overall student performance through reports. 

2. Projects 

You can give group or individual projects to your students. This SA will show what your students have learned throughout the year and how they can work together.  

3. Personal evaluation papers

This summative assessment example is helpful for financial, business, or other technical subjects. In this, you can understand the in-depth opinions of students. These papers allow students to evaluate topics through different perspectives and build an unbiased view.  

Why is Summative Assessment Important?

A kid giving an exam an important summative assessment

Today, many scholars are against summative assessments. They think it lacks real-time performance evaluation benefits like formative assessments. 

However, we will suggest to teachers that both assessments are equally important to sustain in the modern education system. If formative assessments help monitor progress in real-time , then summative assessments set benchmarks to evaluate performance. 

Summative assessments help to improve curriculums. When you note the gap between students’ knowledge and learning targets, this will indicate you want to change your curriculum. You can better plan the curriculum with summative assessments to conduct formative assessments. 

Summative Assessment Benefits 

A student throwing notes in the air

Summative assessments can benefit both teachers and students in many ways, such as:

1. Motivates to study

For many students, periodic evaluation is the best motivation to study. Many students can only perform under pressure. So, summative assessment is the perfect motivation for some students to study hard. 

2. Implements learning 

Summative assessments allow students to implement their learning in a real problem. For example, memorizing the periodic table is one thing. However using the periodic table data in a chemical equation is different.  

Thus, summative assessments like multiple-choice tests allow students to test their learning. 

3. Finds learning gaps 

Summative assessment provides an overview of your class’s performance. This will help you evaluate the weaknesses and strengths of your students. 

For example, you have taken a multiplication and factorization test in your class. Most students score high in multiplication tests, and only 50% score higher in factorization. This tells you that you need to improve your class’s teaching factorization. 

4. Identifies teaching gaps 

Summative assessment helps evaluate learning gaps and teaching gaps. It works as a wake-up call when you grade your student’s tests and the test results are not as expected.

This means your current teaching methods are not up to the mark. You need to adopt a new teaching method or strategy in your classroom, like:

  • Use visual learning components
  • Provide a stimulating learning environment 
  • Use different summative assessment methods, etc. 

5. Provides insight 

Summative assessments provide comprehensive insights to teachers. It shows what worked and what didn’t work in the academic year. Teachers can use this information to tweak their curriculum to raise learning standards for the following year. 

6. Controls learning environment 

Summative assessment scores provide standards for local, national, and global evaluation. Depending upon the standard scores, the government can fund the schools. 

Summative Assessment Limitations 

Two kids studying together

1. Reduces creativity 

As strict criteria are set for summative assessment, it reduces creative involvement. Students have little room to showcase their creativity when following a standard assessment method. 

2. Reflects on teaching ability 

Teachers only have one chance to evaluate students’ performance, which reduces their teaching standards. They can’t make real-time changes in their teaching methods. 

3. Can be biased 

Summative assessments can be biased. If teachers want, they can favor some students while grading their tests. The success of summative assessments depends upon the integrity and honesty of the teacher. 

Creative Ways to Use Summative Assessment in Your Classroom

Kids making crafts

Indeed, summative assessment has limitations that can impact teaching and learning standards. But if you twist up a standard summative assessment method using your creativity, you can gain immense value from SA. Here are a few creative ways to use summative assessments:

1. Short films 

Instead of MCQs or essays, you can ask your students to record their reports on a camera. This way, students can use their creativity to make a unique report. For example, they can use visual charts, stories, or interviews to make their points compelling. 

2. Podcasts 

You can give a group or individual project to students to create podcasts. It is an interactive way to demonstrate learning and creative skills. 

3. Infographics

Creating visual infographics for the final project allows students to show creativity. Students can use attractive visuals to cover different aspects of a topic, like definitions, statistics, etc. 

4. Venn diagrams

Venn diagrams are an old yet effective way to visualize learning. This comparison technique helps compare different histories, social studies, and other concepts. 

5. Living museum

You can ask students to create a small popup museum in the classrooms. This will help you teach one concept to the entire class excitingly. For teaching history or science concepts, this summative assessment mode is perfect. 

Differences Between Summative Assessment and Formative Assessment

Are you confused about using summative or formative assessment in your class? Well, let’s understand what is difference between summative and formative assessment to get a better idea:

A table of differences between formative summative assessment

1. Time for evaluation 

Teachers use formative assessments multiple times during lessons or chapters to evaluate students’ performance. 

The summative assessment comes after completing a project to evaluate a student’s overall understanding. 

2. Learning level 

Formative assessment means constant monitoring of a student’s performance during a lesson. This allows teachers to evaluate a student’s learning level at different stages. Thus, they make instant decisions to improve the learning standards further. 

In contrast, the summative assessment provides a one-time wholesome overview of the student’s performance. This is useful to know the complete learning level of your class. 

3. Scale 

The summative assessment covers a larger area than the formative assessment. For example, teaching a math chapter and taking a test is a formative assessment. But when you take a test of 5-6 chapters together, that’s a summative assessment. 

4. Evaluation style 

Formative assessment is helpful to monitor the progress of individual students. It helps teachers to catch problems using the right approach. 

Summative assessment is a grading system in which overall performance is graded. It helps to evaluate the understanding of a student during a specific period. 

5. Objective

Formative assessment is designed to promote student-centered learning. When teachers evaluate individual students’ performance, they can use personalized teaching methods based on a student’s weaknesses and strengths. 

On the flip side, summative assessment is targeted to provide absolute value. It emphasizes a student’s grade at the end of the academic year. 

Which Is Better –  Formative or Summative Assessment?

Both formative and summative assessments are essential. Teachers need to conduct both assessments in classrooms to improve learning levels. 

Using formative assessments , teachers can keep constant tabs on students’ progress and make instant decisions to improve their performance. At the same time, teachers should evaluate the complete performance of students to ensure that they understand the concepts before their next academic year.

So, it would help if you balanced formative and summative assessment strategies to drive maximum results from your students. 

An image of SplashLearn teacher dashboard

SplashLearn’s tool for teachers has elements that cater to both summative and formative assessments. With practice sessions and assignments that can be used after completion of every topic, students will solve their doubts time after time. With end-of-the-year assessments, you can ensure your students are well-prepared for the next academic year! 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are examples of formative and summative assessments .

Examples of Formative assessment are homework assignments, quizzes, polls, surveys, entry slips, exit slips, etc. Summative assessment examples are – final projects, reports, presentations, essays, etc.  

How do you make a summative assessment? 

  • Focus on a child’s strengths and make them stand out. 
  • Draw parents’ attention towards their children’s knowledge level. 
  • Summative assessment should be free from bias. 
  • Write in a clean and easy-to-understand manner. 

What makes a good summative assessment? 

A good summative assessment reflects a wide range of skills of a student. Authenticity and reliability are the two traits of an excellent summative assessment that helps to improve the overall learning level in a classroom. 

summative assessment benefits for teachers

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Center for the Advancement of Teaching Excellence

Summative assessments.

Nicole Messier, CATE Instructional Designer February 7th, 2022

WHAT? Heading link Copy link

Summative assessments are used to measure learning when instruction is over and thus may occur at the end of a learning unit, module, or the entire course.

Summative assessments are usually graded, are weighted more heavily than other course assignments or comprise a substantial percentage of a students’ overall grade (and are often considered “high stakes” assessments relative to other, “lower stakes” assessments in a course), and are required assessments for the completion of a course.

Summative assessments can be viewed through two broad assessment strategies: assessments of learning and assessments as learning.

  • Assessment of learning (AoL) provides data to confirm course outcomes and students the opportunity to demonstrate proficiency in the learning objectives.
  • Assessment as learning (AaL) provides student ownership of learning by utilizing evidence-based learning strategies, promoting self-regulation, and providing reflective learning.

A summative assessment can be designed to provide both assessment of learning (AoL) and assessment as learning (AaL). The goal of designing for AaL and AoL is to create a summative assessment as a learning experience while ensuring that the data collected is valid and reliable.

Summative Assessment includes test taking

Want to learn more about these assessment strategies? Please visit the  Resources Section – CATE website to review resources, teaching guides, and more.

Summative Assessments Heading link Copy link

Summative assessments (aol).

  • Written assignments – such as papers or authentic assessments like projects or portfolios of creative work
  • Mid-term exam
  • Performances

Although exams are typically used to measure student knowledge and skills at the end of a learning unit, module, or an entire course, they can also be incorporated into learning opportunities for students.

Example 1 - Exam Heading link Copy link

Example 1 - exam.

An instructor decides to analyze their current multiple-choice and short-answer final exam for alignment to the learning objectives. The instructor discovers that the questions cover the content in the learning objectives; however, some questions are not at the same cognitive levels as the learning objectives . The instructor determines that they need to create some scenario questions where students are asked to analyze a situation and apply knowledge to be aligned with a particular learning objective.

The instructor also realizes that this new type of question format will be challenging for students if the exam is the only opportunity provided to students. The instructor decides to create a study guide for students on scenarios (not used in the exam) for students to practice and self-assess their learning. The instructor plans to make future changes to the quizzes and non-graded formative questions to include higher-level cognitive questions to ensure that learning objectives are being assessed as well as to support student success in the summative assessment.

This example demonstrates assessment of learning with an emphasis on improving the validity of the results, as well as assessment as learning by providing students with opportunities to self-assess and reflect on their learning.

Written assignments in any form (authentic, project, or problem-based) can also be designed to collect data and measure student learning, as well as provide opportunities for self-regulation and reflective learning. Instructors should consider using a type of grading rubric (analytic, holistic, or single point) for written assignments to ensure that the data collected is valid and reliable.

Summative Assessments (AaL) Heading link Copy link

Summative assessments (aal).

  • Authentic assessments – an assessment that involves a real-world task or application of knowledge instead of a traditional paper; could involve a situation or scenario specific to a future career.
  • Project-based learning – an assessment that involves student choice in designing and addressing a problem, need, or question.
  • Problem-based learning – similar to project-based learning but focused on solutions to problems.
  • Self-critique or peer assessment

Example 2 - Authentic Assessment Heading link Copy link

Example 2 - authentic assessment.

An instructor has traditionally used a research paper as the final summative assessment in their course. After attending a conference session on authentic assessments, the instructor decides to change this summative assessment to an authentic assessment that allows for student choice and increased interaction, feedback, and ownership.

First, the instructor introduced the summative project during the first week of class. The summative project instructions asked students to select a problem that could be addressed by one of the themes from the course. Students were provided with a list of authentic products that they could choose from, or they could request permission to submit a different product. Students were also provided with a rubric aligned to the learning objectives.

Next, the instructor created small groups (three to four students) with discussion forums for students to begin brainstorming problems, themes, and ideas for their summative project. These groups were also required to use the rubric to provide feedback to their peers at two separate time points in the course. Students were required to submit their final product, references, self-assessment using the rubric, and a reflection on the peer interaction and review.

This example demonstrates an authentic assessment as well as an assessment of learning (AoL) and assessment as learning (AaL). The validity and reliability of this summative assessment are ensured using a rubric that is focused on the learning objectives of the course and consistently utilized for the grading and feedback of the summative project. Data collected from the use of grading criteria in a rubric can be used to improve the summative project as well as the instruction and materials in the course. This summative project allows for reflective learning and provides opportunities for students to develop self-regulation skills as well as apply knowledge gained in an authentic and meaningful product.

Another way to create a summative assessment as a learning opportunity is to break it down into smaller manageable parts. These smaller parts will guide students’ understanding of expectations, provide them with opportunities to receive and apply feedback, as well as support their executive functioning and self-regulation skills.

WHY? Heading link Copy link

We know that summative assessments are vital to the curriculum planning cycle to measure student outcomes and implement continuous improvements. But how do we ensure our summative assessments are effective and equitable? Well, the answer is in the research.

Validity, Reliability, and Manageability

Critical components for the effectiveness of summative assessments are the validity, reliability, and manageability of the assessment (Khaled, 2020).

  • Validity of the assessment refers to the alignment to course learning objectives. In other words, are the assessments in your course measuring the learning objectives?
  • Reliability of the assessment refers to the consistency or accuracy of the assessment used. Are the assessment practices consistent from student to student and semester to semester?
  • Manageability of the assessment refers to the workload for both faculty and students. For faculty, is the type of summative assessment causing a delay in timely grading and feedback to the learner? For students, is the summative assessment attainable and are the expectations realistic?

As you begin to design a summative assessment, determine how you will ensure the assessment is valid, reliable, and manageable.

Feedback & Summative Assessments

Attributes of academic feedback that improve the impact of the summative assessment on student learning (Daka, 2021; Harrison 2017) include:

  • Provide feedback without or before grades.
  • Once the grade is given, then explain the grading criteria and score (e.g., using a rubric to explain grading criteria and scoring).
  •  Identify specific qualities in students’ work.
  • Describe actionable steps on what and how to improve.
  • Motivate and encourage students by providing opportunities to submit revisions or earn partial credit for submitting revised responses to incorrect answers on exams.
  • Allow students to monitor, evaluate, and regulate their learning.

Additional recommendations for feedback include that feedback should be timely, frequent, constructive (what and how), and should help infuse a sense of professional identity for students (why). The alignment of learning objectives, learning activities, and summative assessments is critical to student success and will ensure that assessments are valid. And lastly, the tasks in assessments should match the cognitive levels of the course learning objectives to challenge the highest performing students while elevating lower-achieving students (Daka, 2021).

HOW? Heading link Copy link

How do you start designing summative assessments?

Summative assessments can help measure student achievement of course learning objectives as well as provide the instructor with data to make pedagogical decisions on future teaching and instruction. Summative assessments can also provide learning opportunities as students reflect and take ownership of their learning.

So how do you determine what type of summative assessment to design? And how do you ensure that summative assessment will be valid, reliable, and manageable? Let’s dive into some of the elements that might impact your design decisions, including class size, discipline, modality, and EdTech tools .

Class Size and Modality

The manageability of summative assessments can be impacted by the class size and modality of the course. Depending on the class size of the course, instructors might be able to implement more opportunities for authentic summative assessments that provide student ownership and allow for more reflective learning (students think about their learning and make connections to their experiences). Larger class sizes might require instructors to consider implementing an EdTech tool to improve the manageability of summative assessments.

The course modality can also influence the design decisions of summative assessments. Courses with synchronous class sessions can require students to take summative assessments simultaneously through an in-person paper exam or an online exam using an EdTech tool, like Gradescope or Blackboard Tests, Pools, and Surveys . Courses can also create opportunities for students to share their authentic assessments asynchronously using an EdTech tool like VoiceThread .

Major Coursework

When designing a summative assessment as a learning opportunity for major coursework, instructors should reflect on the learning objectives to be assessed and the possible real-world application of the learning objectives. In replacement of multiple-choice or short answer questions that focus on content memorization, instructors might consider creating scenarios or situational questions that provide students with opportunities to analyze and apply knowledge gained. In major coursework, instructors should consider authentic assessments that allow for student choice, transfer of knowledge, and the development of professional skills in place of a traditional paper or essay.

Undergraduate General Education Coursework

In undergraduate general education coursework, instructors should consider the use of authentic assessments to make connections to students’ experiences, goals, and future careers. Simple adjustments to assignment instructions to allow for student choice can help increase student engagement and motivation. Designing authentic summative assessments can help connect students to the real-world application of the content and create buy-in on the importance of the summative assessment.

Summative Assessment Tools

EdTech tools can help to reduce faculty workload by providing a delivery system for students to submit work as well as tools to support academic integrity.

Below are EdTech tools that are available to UIC faculty to create and/or grade summative assessments as and of learning.

Assessment Creation and Grading Tools Heading link Copy link

Assessment creation and grading tools.

  • Blackboard assignments drop box and rubrics
  • Blackboard quizzes and exams

Assessment creation and grading tools can help support instructors in designing valid and reliable summative assessments. Gradescope can be utilized as a grading tool for in-person paper and pencil midterm and final exams, as well as a tool to create digital summative assessments. Instructors can use AI to improve the manageability of summative assessments as well as the reliability through the use of rubrics for grading with Gradescope.

In the Blackboard learning management system, instructors can create pools of questions for both formative and summative assessments as well as create authentic assessment drop boxes and rubrics aligned to learning objectives for valid and reliable data collection.

Academic Integrity Tools

  • SafeAssign (undergraduate)
  •   iThenticate (graduate)
  • Respondus LockDown Browser and Monitoring

Academic integrity tools can help ensure that students are meeting academic expectations concerning research through the use of SafeAssign and iThenticate as well as academic integrity during online tests and exams using Respondus Lockdown Browser and Monitoring.

Want to learn more about these summative assessment tools? Visit the EdTech section on the CATE website to learn more.

Exam Guidance

Additional guidance on online exams is available in Section III: Best Practices for Online (Remote Proctored, Synchronous) Exams in the Guidelines for Assessment in Online Environments Report , which outlines steps for equitable exam design, accessible exam technology, and effective communication for student success. The framing questions in the report are designed to guide instructors with suggestions, examples, and best practices (Academic Planning Task Force, 2020), which include:

  • “What steps should be taken to ensure that all students have the necessary hardware, software, and internet capabilities to complete a remote, proctored exam?
  • What practices should be implemented to make remote proctored exams accessible to all students, and in particular, for students with disabilities?
  • How can creating an ethos of academic integrity be leveraged to curb cheating in remote proctored exams?
  • What are exam design strategies to minimize cheating in an online environment?
  • What tools can help to disincentive cheating during a remote proctored exam?
  • How might feedback and grading strategies be adjusted to deter academic misconduct on exams?”

GETTING STARTED Heading link Copy link

Getting started.

The following steps will support you as you examine current summative assessment practices through the lens of assessment of learning (AoL) and assessment as learning (AaL) and develop new or adapt existing summative assessments.

  • The first step is to utilize backward design principles by aligning the summative assessments to the learning objectives.
  • To collect valid and reliable data to confirm student outcomes (AoL).
  • To promote self-regulation and reflective learning by students (AaL).
  • Format: exam, written assignment, portfolio, performance, project, etc.
  • Delivery: paper and pencil, Blackboard, EdTech tool, etc.
  • Feedback: general (how to improve performance), personalized (student-specific), etc.
  • Scoring: automatically graded by Blackboard and/or EdTech tool or manual through the use of a rubric in Blackboard.
  • The fourth step is to review data collected from summative assessment(s) and reflect on the implementation of the summative assessment(s) through the lens of validity, reliability, and manageability to inform continuous improvements for equitable student outcomes.

CITING THIS GUIDE Heading link Copy link

Citing this guide.

Messier, N. (2022). “Summative assessments.” Center for the Advancement of Teaching Excellence at the University of Illinois Chicago. Retrieved [today’s date] from https://teaching.uic.edu/resources/teaching-guides/assessment-grading-practices/summative-assessments/

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES Heading link Copy link

Academic Planning Task Force. (2020). Guidelines for Assessment in Online Learning Environments .

McLaughlin, L., Ricevuto, J. (2021). Assessments in a Virtual Environment: You Won’t Need that Lockdown Browser! Faculty Focus.

Moore, E. (2020). Assessments by Design: Rethinking Assessment for Learner Variability. Faculty Focus.

Websites and Journals

Association for the Assessment of Learning in Higher Education website 

Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education. Taylor & Francis Online Journals

Journal of Assessment in Higher Education

REFERENCES Heading link Copy link

Daka, H., & Mulenga-Hagane, M., Mukalula-Kalumbi, M., Lisulo, S. (2021). Making summative assessment effective. 5. 224 – 237.

Earl, L.M., Katz, S. (2006). Rethinking classroom assessment with purpose in mind — Assessment for learning, assessment as learning, assessment of learning. Winnipeg, Manitoba: Crown in Right of Manitoba.

Galletly, R., Carciofo, R. (2020). Using an online discussion forum in a summative coursework assignment. Journal of Educators Online . Volume 17, Issue 2.

Harrison, C., Könings, K., Schuwirth, L. & Wass, V., Van der Vleuten, C. (2017). Changing the culture of assessment: the dominance of the summative assessment paradigm. BMC Medical Education. 17. 10.1186/s12909-017-0912-5.

Khaled, S., El Khatib, S. (2020). Summative assessment in higher education: Feedback for better learning outcomes

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Summative Assessments

What are summative assessments?

Summative assessments are implemented at the end of a unit, set of units, or entire course to assess and evaluate the extent to which students have achieved the learning objectives (knowledge, skills, and behaviors) for that period of instruction. Summative assessments are typically higher stakes (higher point value) than formative assessments and tend to constitute a relatively larger proportion of a student’s grade. Whereas formative assessments provide feedback on student learning while learning is in progress, summative assessments primarily evaluate how much learning has occurred by the end of an instructional period. 

What makes a summative assessment equity-minded?

Equity-minded summative assessments are: 

  • Relevant : Well-aligned with the learning objectives for that period of instruction. Some definitions also consider relevant assessments as those that reflect the goals, interests, or experiences of students (Artze-Vega et al., 2023).
  • Authentic : Provide students with meaningful ways to demonstrate the knowledge or skills they have acquired. For example, this could involve applying course concepts to real-world problems, topics, or careers (Wiggins, 1990). Although all authentic assessments are also relevant, authentic assessments additionally aim to simulate tasks that students will encounter in their academic, professional, or personal lives. 
  • Rigorous : Set high expectations and encourage students to engage in cognitively demanding tasks. Designing rigorous assessments communicates the belief that all students, regardless of their background, have the potential to succeed on challenging tasks if given sufficient support. This actively counteracts the harmful practice of giving less instruction and fewer challenging tasks to minoritized students under the assumption that these students have limited capabilities (Artze-Vega et al., 2023). 
  • Transparent : Explicitly communicate both the purpose of the assessment and the criteria for success (e.g. using rubrics). Additionally, sample assignments or questions should be made available to students where possible. Furthermore, it is important to be transparent about policies related to grading, use of technology (Generative AI, Search Tools), and collaboration. Transparency helps students achieve the high expectations set by equity-minded assessments. It has also been shown to promote student motivation, sense of belonging, and increased retention rates, particularly among first generation, BIPOC, and international students (Winkelmes, 2023).
  • Inclusive : Designed to mitigate cultural and other biases through the use of language and examples that are relevant to the diverse lived experiences of students in the classroom (Montenegro & Jankowski, 2020). Inclusive assessments also avoid the use of jargon and ambiguous language that could make the test difficult for students to understand (thereby also undermining transparency ). Additionally, inclusive assessments can involve giving students options and flexibility to choose from varied formats and types of assessments to demonstrate their learning.  

Best practices when designing summative assessments

Although high-stakes summative assessments can be useful for encouraging students to synthesize knowledge over relatively broad periods of instruction, they are also more anxiety-inducing for students in comparison with lower-stakes assessments (Hembree, 1988; Wood et al., 2016; Silaj et al., 2021). Further, high-stakes summative assessments in most courses tend to take place later during the semester which can place multiple demands on students. In such situations, students may tend to procrastinate or manage time poorly resulting in bad performance on such high stakes exams. With this in mind, there are ways to design and implement summative assessments to reduce anxiety and prepare students to succeed, while still ensuring these assessments are rigorous and promote just and equitable learning outcomes. Some examples include:

  • Breaking down summative assessments, such as major projects and papers, into smaller, more manageable steps. Being explicit in how students can seek feedback, can particularly benefit international and first-generation students who are getting acquainted with a new academic culture. 
  • Providing opportunities for revisions based on self, peer, or instructor feedback.
  • Having students complete multiple low-stakes formative assessments (e.g., short quizzes) prior to a high-stakes summative assessment (e.g., exam).
  •   Scaffolding assignments to provide more guidance early on but progressively increase the level of independence later on in the assignment.
  • Implementing course policies to allow students to drop their lowest grade or retake an exam.
  • Invest time in class to teach students how to use AI tools like Chat-GPT or Co-pilot , reference managers , or search engines that can aid their performance through practice. This can reduce student anxiety around tackling summative assessments and also reduce the tendency to plagiarize or inappropriately use content produced by generative AI. 

All these strategies allow summative assessments to set high expectations while simultaneously lowering the stakes and providing students with ample opportunities to practice, improve, and ultimately achieve those high expectations (Schrank 2016).

References:

Artze-Vega, I., Darby, F., Dewsbury, B., & Imad, M. (2023). The Norton Guide to Equity-Minded Teaching , New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning. Instructional scaffolding to improve learning . Northern Illinois University.

Hembree, R. (1988). Correlates, causes, effects, and treatment of test anxiety . Review of Educational Research, 58 (1), 47–77.

Montenegro, E., & Jankowski, N. A. (2020, January). A new decade for assessment: Embedding equity into assessment praxis (Occasional Paper No. 42). Urbana, IL: University of Illinois and Indiana University, National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA).

Shapiro, S., Farrelly, R., & Tomaš, Z. (2023). Chapter 4: Effective and Equitable Assignments and Assessments. Fostering International Student Success in higher education (pp, 61-87, second edition). TESOL Press.

Schrank, Z. (2016). An assessment of student perceptions and responses to frequent low-stakes testing in Introductory Sociology classes . Teaching Sociology , 44(2), 118–127.

Silaj, K. M., Schwartz, S. T., Siegel, A. L. M., Castel, A.D.(2021). Test anxiety and metacognitive performance in the classroom . Educational Psychology Review, 33 , 1809–1834.

Wiggins, G. (1990). The case for authentic assessment . Practical Assessment, Research, and Evaluation, 2 , 1–3.

Winkelmes, M. (2023). Introduction to Transparency in Learning and Teaching . Perspectives In Learning , 20 (1). Columbus, GA: CSUE Press.

Wood, S. G., Hart, S. A., Little, C. W., & Phillips, B. M. (2016). Test anxiety and a high-stakes standardized reading comprehension test: A behavioral genetics perspective . Merrill-Palmer Quarterly , 62 (3), 233–251.

Further readings and resources:

Office of Instructional Consultation. Low + High-stakes assessments . University of California, Santa Barbara.

Fournier, K. A., Couret, J., Ramsay, J. B., & Caulkins, J. L. (2017). Using collaborative two-stage examinations to address test anxiety in a large enrollment gateway course . Anatomical Sciences Education , 10 (5), 409–422. 

Morrison R., University of Tasmania. (2020, February 11). Don’t “just Google it”: 3 ways students can get the most from searching online . The Conversation. 

Writing Across the Curriculum. (2019, July 23). Using citation management tools in writing assignments . University of Wisconsin-Madison.

 Mollick, E., Mollick, L. (2023, August 9). Practical AI for instructors and students: Part 5 . Wharton School of Business: Interactive.

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summative assessment benefits for teachers

What is summative assessment? How to further learning with final exams

Christine Lee

Grading can be learning, for both students and teachers.

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Understanding the meaning and function of summative assessment helps clarify its role within education as a critical component of bridging teaching and learning. In this post, we take a closer look at summative assessment’s qualities with the end goal of ensuring that summative assessment supports learning and informs teaching.

Assessment is a term that describes tests, quizzes, exams, and assignments that measure student learning. Each of these methodologies can provide students and teachers with insights. Educators receive data on what students have and have not learned and gain observations into teaching efficacy and exam design. Students, in turn, recognize any learning gaps they might have, and when they receive feedback, understand next steps to further learning.

The most high-stakes type of assessment is called summative assessment. Summative assessment often comes at the endpoint of learning, whether at the end of a unit, course, or curriculum, serving largely as a pure evaluation of knowledge.

It’s easy to consider summative assessments as a final chapter to learning, but summative assessments can also act as a milestone and inform next steps for both educators and students. By examining the definition of summative assessment as well as its capabilities, educators can embrace its strengths, bolster its shortcomings, and foster learning.

Summative assessment is a specific type of assessment that evaluates learning and offers little opportunity for providing student feedback because of its positioning at the end of a learning unit. They are usually high-stakes, contributing to a large portion of a student’s course grade (e.g., final exams) or an exam that has a high impact on a student’s educational outcome. (e.g., standardized exams or entrance exams). Summative assessments include heavily weighted midterm exams, final exams, licensure tests, and standardized exams like A levels in the UK, SATs in the United States, Matriculation Exams in Finland, National Boards in India, or the CSAT in South Korea.

In such a high-stakes context, failing or struggling on summative assessments can negate student effort in other areas of study. On the other hand, summative assessment can be an effective tool to evaluate student knowledge and in the realm of licensure and certification exams, determine qualification for beginning a career.

While we aim to focus discussion on summative assessment, it’s important to describe another type of assessment to provide context; formative assessments not only evaluate learning but provide feedback to students and data to instructors. While formative assessments may or may not be given a grade, they most certainly further learning and occur throughout the course to support student learning needs, and often provide a safe space for failure . Formative assessments include assignments, tests, in-class activities, quizzes, and even midterm exams when they include feedback and opportunities for instructor intervention.

Best practices in formative assessment include providing timely and actionable feedback to students before the next assessment ( Hattie & Timperley, 2007 ).

While formative assessment is the measurement and support of learning as it takes place, summative assessments are evaluations of what a student has learned at the end of a given period (e.g., semester or training course). By assessing students at the end of a module, course, or curriculum, educators gain insight into how well their students have mastered the content and how effective their teaching methods were.

Even though summative assessments are situated at a point where students will find it hard to action results, data from summative assessments can still be used to inform curriculum planning and teaching, as well as any future exam adjustments.

That said, when possible, it’s important to balance formative and summative assessments within a term or curriculum. Fortifying summative assessments with prior formative assessments can support a student’s educational journey. Students who understand what they know and what they need to know in order to move forward are more likely to be prepared for final evaluation. Furthermore, preparing students for final evaluation with frequent opportunities to fail safely and receive feedback reduces stress, increases learning outcomes, and can mitigate academic misconduct .

While every type of assessment has its function to evaluate, every type of assessment, too, can be maximized for learning and teaching. Mid-course exams, for example, have the potential for both summative and formative qualities, serving to evaluate mastery (summative) and provide feedback to promote student learning (formative).

Without feedback, a midterm exam is purely summative. And while a summative component to a mid-course exam is reasonable, there is a lot more potential to them. It is important to provide feedback on mid-course exams so that students understand what they do and do not know and have the tools to bridge learning gaps for the next assessment and ultimately their final exam.

When assessments are provided with timely and actionable feedback, students have the information they need to facilitate their own learning; in this way, even high-stakes midterm exams can pivot towards formative learning opportunities for students. Additionally, summative assessments contain information critical for teacher and curriculum intervention as well as future exam design.

While formative assessments hinge on providing students with immediate feedback to help with the learning process, summative assessments happen after the student learning occurs. However, this doesn’t mean that communicating students’ performance is any less important.

For students to understand what content they have mastered and which topics might need additional study time, they need a detailed breakdown of their performance.

Categorizing summative assessment questions can give instructors the granular performance data they (and their students) need. By tagging exam items to course topics or learning objectives, faculty can provide the detailed feedback students need to be more focused in their study efforts.

Summative assessments are an important part of the assessment process and are incredibly valuable to both students and faculty. By ensuring high-stakes exams are secure, and providing students with performance feedback, educators can gain insight into how well students have learned the content and how well instructors have presented it.

Summative assessments evaluate content mastery. Generally, they are end-of-course or end-of-year exams; however, these are not the only applicable uses of summative assessments. Evaluating student learning could also come at the end of a chapter or learning module with mid-course exams.

Summative exams can also be multi-functional, as they, like all assessments, are rich with data. When item analysis and psychometrics accompany summative assessment, instruction is bolstered. When an assessment occurs at the end of a course or year or curriculum, data insights help educators make adjustments to teaching and curriculum so that future learning can be bolstered. When category-tagging is employed in tools like ExamSoft, educators can pinpoint student preparation for things like licensure exams. And conducting item analysis can inform effective exam design.

Summative assessments are by nature, high-stakes, and very stressful.

Who hasn’t woken from a nightmare in panic about missing or failing a final exam, even decades out from school? The reality that summative assessments can make or break academic success is deeply implanted in our psyche.

While there is little disagreement among educators about the need for or utility of summative assessments, debates and disagreements tend to center on issues of fairness and effectiveness, especially when summative-assessment results are used for high-stakes purposes.

Fair and inclusive assessments uphold accurate assessments. When exams are not fair nor inclusive, they become vulnerable to misconduct, resulting in missed learning opportunities. When exams do not cover what was taught, students may feel stressed and vulnerable. These missed opportunities can compound and widen learning gaps.

Assessments need to contain a variety of formats and question styles to measure different components of learning and include different learning styles. Summative assessments, when poorly designed, reward memorization rather than deep understanding of concepts. Encouraging competition between students, which can happen when grading on a curve, can also increase stress and decrease fairness.

Additionally, when test-takers are not sure how they will be evaluated, summative assessments can be unfair and inaccurate. Providing rubrics to students and graders ensures clarity of expectations and ensuing measurement of learning.

When summative assessments are stressful, do not accurately measure learning, aren’t preceded with learning opportunities beforehand, and/or don’t test what has been taught, they also become more vulnerable to academic misconduct and shortcut solutions like cheating, plagiarism, and AI Writing misuse.

Assessments are a checkpoint for student learning and teaching efficacy; consequently, accurate student responses are critical to increasing learning outcomes.

Most summative assessments are given with the understanding that the student’s score counts toward their final grade. As such, keeping these secure from academic dishonesty is paramount to providing a fair experience for all exam-takers. Though many educational institutions are moving to computer-based testing (CBT), taking exams on laptops or other devices brings a new list of potential security issues, such as access to the internet or other applications during an exam. An effective way to ensure exam integrity is testing software that does not allow use of the internet during an exam and prevents students from accessing other applications on their device.

Preventing academic dishonesty by blocking exam-takers’ information sources isn’t the only point to consider; ensuring students don’t share assessment items is also a concern. Once a test question is compromised, it’s no longer a valid measurement of student learning. Thus, keeping questions secure is vital.

Assessment security is a focus of Professor Phillip Dawson, an authority on assessment security from Deakin University in Australia, who defines assessment security as: “Measures taken to harden assessment against attempts to cheat. This includes approaches to detect and evidence attempts to cheat, as well as measures to make cheating more difficult.”

Dawson suggests a multilayered approach to assessment design, with seven standards for assessment security that institutions ought to consider:

  • Coverage across a program - how much of a degree should be secured?
  • Authentication - how do we ensure the student is who they say they are?
  • Control of circumstances - how can we be sure the task was done in the intended circumstances?
  • Difficulty to cheat metrics - we need to know how hard it may be to cheat a task.
  • Detection accuracy metrics - we need to know if our detection methods work.
  • Proof metrics - we need to be able to prove cases of cheating.
  • Prevalence metrics - we need to know approximate rates of undetected, detected, and proven cheating ( Dawson, 2021 ).

According to Professor Roseanna Bourke, Director of Educational Psychology programme and Institute of Education at Massey University, there is a link between student cheating and student understanding and investment in the assigned tasks; when students don’t understand questions and lack confidence, learning itself becomes the barrier ( Bourke, Integrity Matters, n.d. ).

Providing support to students throughout a course or curriculum mitigates academic dishonesty in summative assessments. When students feel seen and supported with formative feedback in their educational journey, they are less likely to cheat. Additionally, rubrics can make clear the purpose of each question.

As stated, summative assessment is useful when the data exchange is maximized and accurate. Not only should it provide information about content mastery to instructors, it can also act as a reservoir of statistics about learning trends, item analysis, and exam effectiveness. Finally, and when possible, summative exams can take on formative qualities when feedback is provided. All of these data points directly benefit student learning.

Because it is a platform to demonstrate a culmination of knowledge, designing summative assessments is particularly critical to make the test accessible and inclusive for all different types of learners, and thus promote accurate measurement and data insights. Exam design principles include:

  • Test what has been taught; aligning summative assessment with instruction models and promotes integrity for students.
  • Design assessments that focus on measuring both breadth and depth of student knowledge and consider eliminating components that do not inform learning. Offer a variety of assessment formats. Multiple-choice questions can effectively breadth of knowledge in a limited time while short-answer and long-answer formats can evaluate higher-order thinking.
  • Offering a variety of formats and questions styles within a summative assessment can also accommodate different learning styles. When diverse formats are offered, a larger spectrum of learning can be assessed. Additionally, diverse formats provide different ways for students to demonstrate their learning.
  • And consider eliminating grading on a curve, which can increase competition between students, some of whom may be cheating ( UC Berkeley, 2020 ). Researchers Schinske and Tanner state, “Moving away from curving sets the expectation that all students have the opportunity to achieve the highest possible grade” ( Schinske & Tanner, 2014 ).
  • A rubric, too, benefits students by clarifying expectations and acts as added assurance that tests align to previously-communicated learning goals.

Finally, the summative assessment itself is a living document, one that can be continuously optimized.

Analyze student responses to ensure assessments are fair, and to examine answer patterns to see if shortcut solutions have been utilized. Item analysis , or formally examining student responses and patterns, can show whether or not summative assessments are accurately assessing student knowledge. The data (Did every student get one particular question wrong? Did every student get one particular question correct? What kinds of answers are your test questions eliciting? Did you get the answers you expected?) can inform both exam design and teaching. Furthermore, item analysis supports exam robustness by highlighting questions on exams that may need adjustment.

Category tagging , a feature in ExamSoft assessment software, can offer more in-depth insights into future testing. A nursing program, for instance, can evaluate readiness for certification and the strength of curriculum to prepare students for standardized exams. Of course, category tagging can also fortify summative assessment within the curriculum.

In conclusion, summative assessments function largely as a way to evaluate learning at critical learning junctions, whether at the end of a term, end of a curriculum, or for advancement into the next level of schooling or licensure. The nature of summative assessments make them high-stakes, sometimes to the extent that they can negatively impact all prior learning. Moreover, they lack the opportunity for feedback, given their position in the educational journey.

That said, summative assessments are not wholly an endpoint. They are an intersection rich with data for educators to inform teaching, curriculum, and exam design. For students, too, there can be opportunities to learn, either by feedback or via data analysis, their own learning gaps and how to bridge them.

When educators maximize the potential of summative assessment, they can foster learning.

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Summative Assessments

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by Josie Baudier

Offering varied types of assessments allows learners to express expertise and mastery in different ways.

Summative assessments shift the focus of learning from practice, in formative assessments, to mastery of the course goals. These types of assessments usually follow numerous opportunities for students to practice what they have learned in class through low-to mid-stakes assignments (formative assessments) supported by instructor feedback. In summative assessment, students should be ready to show proof of learning of the course goals. Examples of summative assessment include exams, papers, projects, or portfolios.

Although summative assessments are a critical component in a course, it is also important to support student learning through formative assessments and frequent feedback. For example, Weimer (2013) points out that providing feedback through the semester on writing will prepare students better for expectations on final papers or projects. By giving ungraded feedback on parts or drafts of a final summative event, students are more likely to meet the thresholds of the course goal established by the instructor. Formative assessments give students feedback which, in turn, supports their ability to show proof of learning on a summative assessment. Weimer’s (2013) focus on learner-centered experiences reminds instructors that a balance needs to be established between grades and assessments. The focus should be on learning processes and assessments should measure “critical thinking, logical reasoning, and the ability to synthesize and evaluate” (Weimer, 2013, p. 169). In order to demonstrate these skills, consider some of the following types of summative assessments and how to use them effectively in a course.

Davis (2009) provides a few general strategies for using examinations. Some of these are listed here with explanations:

1. Begin constructing an exam by focusing on learning outcomes

Align the type of exam and/or type of question to the learning outcomes and learning objectives (McKeachie, 2011).

2. View testing as an opportunity to understand students’ intellectual progress

For new learners in their first or second year, consider frequent testing events. As student develop skills, tests can become less systematic and more about “integration and analysis” of concepts (McKeachie, 2011, p. 84). Tests should begin about three or four weeks into a semester and should represent the type learning expected for the semester. Tests administered earlier in the semester may be used more for “motivational and diagnostic than evaluative” purposes (McKeachie, 2011, p. 83).

3. Create questions that test skills other than recall

Many exams are constructed with multiple choice questions as the main mechanism to prove learning. While these tests can be useful, it can be difficult to write multiple choice questions that measure the upper levels of cognition. The upper levels in the cognitive domain in Bloom’s Taxonomy include: analyzing, evaluating, creating (Anderson, L. W. & Krathwohl, D. R., et al, 2001. Adding short answer or essay questions may help to satisfy the need to test for more sophisticated knowledge acquisition or critical thinking skills.

4. Take precautions to avoid cheating

One way to reduce academic dishonesty is to lessen the anxiety of graded exams.  Offering multiple and varied types of assessments allows students to prove mastery of content in different expressions. This approach reduces student anxiety when they only have a limited number of grading opportunities (McKeachie, 2011). Another way to reduce cheating is to create a safe space for students to ask questions and clarify misconceptions. Developing trust and rapport with students will create a welcoming environment (McKeachie, 2011) and, therefore, students feel like they can get feedback on their learning progress.

5. Encourage reflection

If students are struggling, the instructor can talk with them about how they are studying. Introduce exam wrappers or metacognitive reflection activities to help students diagnose why they may or may not have been successful (Ambrose et al., 2010). By reflecting on their learning processes, exam preparation, and establishing ways of studying that should improve their learning, students will begin to feel in control of their learning.

Alternative summative assessments

Students can benefit from expressing their learning through papers, projects, or portfolios. Offering varied types of assessments allows learners to express expertise and mastery in different ways. McKeachie (2011) suggests a few different activities or assignments:

1 . Graphic representation of concepts

Through concept maps or graphic organizers, student can learn to organize their thoughts and the content of course. Having students create the schema or connections by using a mapping tool helps to move the information from short-term to long-term memory. Building these connections is key to success in developing “flexible and effective knowledge organization” (Ambrose et al., 2010, p.65). These representations can be used as a summative evaluation or to create a project or paper.

2. Annotated bibliographies          

Annotated bibliographies can be used for students to frame a research paper or they can be used by an entire class to improve their writing on particular topics (McKeachie, 2011). Adding an annotated bibliography to a group project or presentation helps students divide up the focus of group projects and also ground their thoughts in research.

3. Portfolios

A portfolio is used to collect and highlight work from a student over a specific period of time. Students compose papers, exams, documents, or favorite content from a course throughout the semester in order to show evidence of learning. Students can use this to show their progress of learning, to solicit feedback during the process, or to simply explain their own development with certain content. In this way, a portfolio approach can be helpful to the students as well as instructors (McKeachie, 2011; Davis, 2009).

Consider offering students a range of summative assessments which provide different ways for students to demonstrate their mastery of the course objectives. Students will benefit from variety in their assessments by being motivated to show evidence of learning beyond the traditional midterm and final exam format. Alternative assessments may allow for student to process and make connections to the content. When using a traditional exam for assessment be sure to consider the strategies for aligning questions and varying the types of questions. There are several ways for students to prove their learning and show evidence of it. These options will enhance the learner-centeredness and student motivation in a course.

Ambrose, S., Bridges, M., DiPietro, M., Lovett, M., Norman, M. (2010). How learning

works: 7 research-based principles for smart teaching. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Anderson, L.W. (Ed.), Krathwohl, D.R. (Ed.), Airasian, P.W., Cruikshank, K.A., Mayer,

R.E., Pintrich, P.R., Raths, J., & Wittrock, M.C. (2001). A taxonomy for learning, teaching, an assessing: A revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives (Complete edition). New York: Longman.

Davis, B. G. (2009). Tools for teaching (2nd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Svinicki, M. & McKeachie, W. (2011). McKeachie’s teaching tips: Strategies, research,

and theory for college and university teachers (13th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Weimer, M. (2013). Learner-centered teaching: Five key changes to practice (2nd ed.).

San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

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Summative assessments are used to evaluate student learning, skill acquisition, and academic achievement at the conclusion of instruction—typically at the end of a project, unit, course, semester, or program.   

Summative Assessment Resources  

Exam Alternatives

While exams are a frequently-employed summative assessment strategy, many alternatives provide the opportunity for more authentic assessment, better preparing students for the real-world challenges they will face when they complete their degrees. Indiana University Bloomington’s Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning lists some guiding questions to assist faculty to determine exactly the types of skills and knowledge that exam alternatives should address (Indiana University, 2020):

  • Do you want to assess your students’ acquisition of specific content knowledge, or their ability to apply that knowledge to new situations (or both)?
  • Do you want to assess a product that students produce, or the process they went through to produce it, or both?
  •  writing ability
  •  speaking skills
  •  creativity
  •  use of information technology
  • Is a visual component to the assessment necessary or desirable?
  • Is the ability for students to work in a group an important component of the assessment?
  • Is it important that the assessment be time-constrained? 

The Center has compiled a list of alternatives to traditional exams and papers organized by purpose and performance level: creativity, comprehension, analysis or evaluation, short writing activities, and integration of many skills and types of knowledge. 

Exam Alternatives Resources

In addition to those described in the resources for this section, below are a few common alternatives to exams:

The ePortfolio collects evidence of student learning in electronic form. Because students collect their work over a period of time, ePortfolios are useful in promoting student reflection on their learning over the course of their degree programs and tracking progress toward their academic goals. ePortfolios can be used for both formative and summative assessment.

ePortfolio Resources  

Authentic Assessment

Internships, capstone projects, service learning opportunities, and other strategies offer learning experiences that combine the benefits of case studies and projects. 

  • Case Studies: Long used in business, law, medicine, and the social sciences, cases can be used in any discipline to prepare students to apply what they have learned to real world problems.
  •    Identifying a problem
  •    Agreeing on or devising a solution and potential solution path to the problem (i.e., how to achieve the solution)
  •    Designing and developing a prototype of the solution
  •    Refining the solution based on feedback from experts, instructors, and/or peers (Boston University Center for Teaching & Learning, n.d.)
  • Student presentations: Student presentations not only assess your students' understanding but also provide the opportunity for students to practice public speaking and presentation skills. Using student presentations as part of a group project requires students to collaborate with peers in synthesizing information and constructing new knowledge. In the remote teaching environment, students can use either Zoom or Kaltura to create their presentations. Zoom works for a group setting if everyone needs to be part of the presentation, and Kaltura is an ideal tool for single-student presentations. 

Authentic/Case/Project/Problem Based Learning Resources

Information Literacy, Research, and Writing Support Available for Students

These resources support students with the types of assignments you might use as exam alternatives.

Competency Based Assessment

Competency-based education focuses on what students know and can do rather than how they learned it or how long it took to learn it (Klein-Collins, 2014). Students advance through their academic programs by successfully demonstrating their skills and competencies through specially designed assessments.  At the program level,

[s]ome CBE programs have been designed to allow students to learn and progress at their own pace; some are leveraging technology in new ways to facilitate student-directed learning as well as cost savings for the student and ostensibly also for the institution. In addition to these benefits, many institutions are choosing to offer CBE programs as a way to improve the quality of higher education by focusing on evidence of student learning outcomes rather than seat time (Klein-Collins, 2016).

Competency Based Assessment Resources

Value Added Assessment 

Following the attention accountability received in K-12 education, accountability in higher education has become a key area of interest. Value-added assessment measures the performance difference between first-year and fourth-year students on a standardized test after controlling for student admission scores. The value-added measure indicates how much students have learned in college in writing and critical thinking after taking into consideration their prior academic achievement. Institutions are then ranked based on their value-added scores (Liu, 2011). Value Added Assessment  The Office of Institutional Effectiveness and Assessment at Skidmore College (2020) describes advantages and disadvantages of pre- and post- testing as a method of value added assessment: Advantages:

  • Assessing the students when they first enter a program can establish a firm benchmark against which to measure growth or value-added.
  • Pre-testing is especially helpful for measuring student knowledge, or cognitive learning, and skills, though somewhat less so for measuring values.
  • Pre- and post-testing may work best with traditional four-year undergraduates rather than the more common situation now where students enter, stop-out, transfer, return, and take six years or more to graduate.
  • Pre- and post-testing can be easily scored.
  • Pre- and post-testing can be relatively easily analyzed using statistical procedures.

Disadvantages:

  • Pre- and post-testing offers little useful information if the students know little or nothing about the subject of the program when they first enter it.
  • Deciding how to develop meaningfully comparable pre- and post-assessments is difficult, since the pre-test may have to be so basic that any additional learning could be seen as "growth" or value-added.
  • If the assessment is not based upon a highly structured curriculum where the objectives are taught toward and adhered to across all courses in a systematic fashion, it may be difficult to demonstrate the causes of the value-added or to correlate the results of the post-test with the specific courses within the curriculum.

Other approaches are possible, including essays or research papers, embedded assessment, and standardized tests (The Office of Institutional Effectiveness and Assessment at Skidmore College, 2020).

Value Added Assessment Resources

References Boston University Center for Teaching & Learning. (n.d.) Project-Based Learning: Teaching Guide. Retrieved from https://www.bu.edu/ctl/guides/project-based-learning/

Indiana University Bloomington Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning. (2020). Alternatives to Traditional Exams and Papers. Retrieved from https://citl.indiana.edu/teaching-resources/assessing-student-learning/alternatives-traditional-exams-papers/index.html

Klein-Collins, R. (2014). Sharpening Our Focus on Learning: The Rise of Competency-Based Approaches to Degree Completion (Occasional Paper #20). National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment. Retrieved from https://learningoutcomesassessment.org/documents/OccasionalPaper20.pdf

Klein-Collins, R. (2016). Faculty and Administrator Views on Competency Based Education. The Council for Adult & Experiential Learning. Retrieved from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED597744.pdf

Liu, O. (2011). Value-added assessment in higher education: A comparison of two methods. Higher Education, 61(4), 445–461. https://unh.primo.exlibrisgroup.com/permalink/01USNH_UNH/1o8seis/cdi_gale_infotracacademiconefile_A345072375

Institutional Effectiveness and Assessment at Skidmore College. (2020). Value-Added Assessment (Pre- and Post-testing). Retrieved from https://www.skidmore.edu/assessment/archived/pre-or-post-assessment.php

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Formative and summative assessments.

Assessment allows both instructor and student to monitor progress towards achieving learning objectives, and can be approached in a variety of ways. Formative assessment refers to tools that identify misconceptions, struggles, and learning gaps along the way and assess how to close those gaps. It includes effective tools for helping to shape learning, and can even bolster students’ abilities to take ownership of their learning when they understand that the goal is to improve learning, not apply final marks (Trumbull and Lash, 2013). It can include students assessing themselves, peers, or even the instructor, through writing, quizzes, conversation, and more. In short, formative assessment occurs throughout a class or course, and seeks to improve student achievement of learning objectives through approaches that can support specific student needs (Theal and Franklin, 2010, p. 151). 

In contrast, summative assessments evaluate student learning, knowledge, proficiency, or success at the conclusion of an instructional period, like a unit, course, or program. Summative assessments are almost always formally graded and often heavily weighted (though they do not need to be). Summative assessment can be used to great effect in conjunction and alignment with formative assessment, and instructors can consider a variety of ways to combine these approaches. 

Examples of Formative and Summative Assessments

Both forms of assessment can vary across several dimensions (Trumbull and Lash, 2013): 

  • Informal / formal
  • Immediate / delayed feedback
  • Embedded in lesson plan / stand-alone
  • Spontaneous / planned
  • Individual / group
  • Verbal / nonverbal
  • Oral / written
  • Graded / ungraded
  • Open-ended response / closed/constrained response
  • Teacher initiated/controlled / student initiated/controlled
  • Teacher and student(s) / peers
  • Process-oriented / product-oriented
  • Brief / extended
  • Scaffolded (teacher supported) / independently performed 

Recommendations

Formative Assessment   Ideally, formative assessment strategies improve teaching and learning simultaneously. Instructors can help students grow as learners by actively encouraging them to self-assess their own skills and knowledge retention, and by giving clear instructions and feedback. Seven principles (adapted from Nicol and Macfarlane-Dick, 2007 with additions) can guide instructor strategies:

  • Keep clear criteria for what defines good performance - Instructors can explain criteria for A-F graded papers, and encourage student discussion and reflection about these criteria (this can be accomplished though office hours, rubrics, post-grade peer review, or exam / assignment wrappers ). Instructors may also hold class-wide conversations on performance criteria at strategic moments throughout a term.
  • Encourage students’ self-reflection - Instructors can ask students to utilize course criteria to evaluate their own or a peer’s work, and to share what kinds of feedback they find most valuable. In addition, instructors can ask students to describe the qualities of their best work, either through writing or group discussion.
  • Give students detailed, actionable feedback - Instructors can consistently provide specific feedback tied to predefined criteria, with opportunities to revise or apply feedback before final submission. Feedback may be corrective and forward-looking, rather than just evaluative. Examples include comments on multiple paper drafts, criterion discussions during 1-on-1 conferences, and regular online quizzes.
  • Encourage teacher and peer dialogue around learning - Instructors can invite students to discuss the formative learning process together. This practice primarily revolves around mid-semester feedback and small group feedback sessions , where students reflect on the course and instructors respond to student concerns. Students can also identify examples of feedback comments they found useful and explain how they helped. A particularly useful strategy, instructors can invite students to discuss learning goals and assignment criteria, and weave student hopes into the syllabus.
  • Promote positive motivational beliefs and self-esteem - Students will be more motivated and engaged when they are assured that an instructor cares for their development. Instructors can allow for rewrites/resubmissions to signal that an assignment is designed to promote development of learning. These rewrites might utilize low-stakes assessments, or even automated online testing that is anonymous, and (if appropriate) allows for unlimited resubmissions.
  • Provide opportunities to close the gap between current and desired performance - Related to the above, instructors can improve student motivation and engagement by making visible any opportunities to close gaps between current and desired performance. Examples include opportunities for resubmission, specific action points for writing or task-based assignments, and sharing study or process strategies that an instructor would use in order to succeed.  
  • Collect information which can be used to help shape teaching - Instructors can feel free to collect useful information from students in order to provide targeted feedback and instruction. Students can identify where they are having difficulties, either on an assignment or test, or in written submissions. This approach also promotes metacognition , as students are asked to think about their own learning. Poorvu Center staff can also perform a classroom observation or conduct a small group feedback session that can provide instructors with potential student struggles. 

Instructors can find a variety of other formative assessment techniques through Angelo and Cross (1993), Classroom Assessment Techniques (list of techniques available here ).

Summative Assessment   Because summative assessments are usually higher-stakes than formative assessments, it is especially important to ensure that the assessment aligns with the goals and expected outcomes of the instruction.  

  • Use a Rubric or Table of Specifications - Instructors can use a rubric to lay out expected performance criteria for a range of grades. Rubrics will describe what an ideal assignment looks like, and “summarize” expected performance at the beginning of term, providing students with a trajectory and sense of completion. 
  • Design Clear, Effective Questions - If designing essay questions, instructors can ensure that questions meet criteria while allowing students freedom to express their knowledge creatively and in ways that honor how they digested, constructed, or mastered meaning. Instructors can read about ways to design effective multiple choice questions .
  • Assess Comprehensiveness - Effective summative assessments provide an opportunity for students to consider the totality of a course’s content, making broad connections, demonstrating synthesized skills, and exploring deeper concepts that drive or found a course’s ideas and content. 
  • Make Parameters Clear - When approaching a final assessment, instructors can ensure that parameters are well defined (length of assessment, depth of response, time and date, grading standards); knowledge assessed relates clearly to content covered in course; and students with disabilities are provided required space and support.
  • Consider Blind Grading - Instructors may wish to know whose work they grade, in order to provide feedback that speaks to a student’s term-long trajectory. If instructors wish to provide truly unbiased summative assessment, they can also consider a variety of blind grading techniques .

Considerations for Online Assessments

Effectively implementing assessments in an online teaching environment can be particularly challenging. The Poorvu Center shares these  recommendations .

Nicol, D.J. and Macfarlane-Dick, D. (2006) Formative assessment and self‐regulated learning: a model and seven principles of good feedback practice. Studies in Higher Education 31(2): 2-19.

Theall, M. and Franklin J.L. (2010). Assessing Teaching Practices and Effectiveness for Formative Purposes. In: A Guide to Faculty Development. KJ Gillespie and DL Robertson (Eds). Jossey Bass: San Francisco, CA.

Trumbull, E., & Lash, A. (2013). Understanding formative assessment: Insights from learning theory and measurement theory. San Francisco: WestEd.

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summative assessment benefits for teachers

The Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning routinely supports members of the Yale community with individual instructional consultations and classroom observations.

summative assessment benefits for teachers

Formative and Summative assessments: A teacher's guide

December 17, 2021

How can we use formative and summative assessments to drive student understanding forward? A classroom guide for teachers.

Main, P (2021, December 17). Formative and Summative assessments: A teacher's guide. Retrieved from https://www.structural-learning.com/post/formative-and-summative-assessments-a-teachers-guide

What is the difference between formative and summative assessment?

Summative assessment and formative assessment are two kinds of testings that serve different purposes in evaluating student learning. Summative testing measures school attainment and knowledge growth at the end of a unit of study, providing a snapshot of student progress . In contrast, formative assessment strategies focus on ongoing development and long-term information retention, with evaluations taking place on a regular basis.

While summative assessments are useful in determining overall academic performance, formative assessments offer real-time insights into student learning, allowing teachers to adjust their instruction and better support individual needs for continuous improvement.

Many people consider ‘ assessment ’ as a test . But, this term is wider than that. There are two main categories of assessment: formative assessment and summative assessment . These types of assessment are sometimes called A 'for' L and A 'of' L , respectively.

At some level, both types of appraisal are conducted in the classroom but they have two different purposes. To maximise the effectiveness of each type of classroom practice , it is essential to understand the basic functions of these appraisals and how each of these assessment types contributes to the student motivation and learning process. 

Providing comprehensive feedback for students is a fundamental part of lessons. In this article, we will demonstrate some engaging ways of going beyond the standard multiple-choice questions. Although plenary questions are a good way of gauging what students have understood, there are more interactive strategies that get to the essence of what pupil understanding.

What are the Formative assessments?

Formative activities are taken more frequently and during regular classes for insightful purposes , allowing educators and students to assess pupil progress and attainment levels more often. Formative appraisals can start from diagnostic questions , demonstrating what gaps may exist in knowledge and what a student already knows. Knowing what has been learned to date, makes it easier for both the student and the teacher to plan the next stages of learning . As the learning proceeds, further appraisals specify whether instructional methods need to be modified to extend or reinforce students' current theoretical knowledge.

Formative tasks may be carried out through strategies such as key questions, exit tickets , quizzes, tasks, and many other types of formative review activities . Most of the formative appraisal activities are not recorded by the teachers, except possibly in the lesson plan drawn up to identify the next steps implied.

For formative tasks, the main functions of assessment include the monitoring of student theoretical knowledge and offering ongoing feedback to students and staff. Productive appraisal activities are the ongoing check of knowledge and skills. If designed properly, an ongoing assessment helps learners identify their weaknesses and strengths, and it can help students improve their self-regulating skills so that they gain their education properly. Constructive checks of understanding also provide information to the teachers about the lesson planning and subject matter learners are struggling with so that enough support can be provided through individual lessons.

Checks of understanding can be teacher-led , self or peer-assessment. These are usually low stakes assessments and mostly carry no grade, which may discourage the learners from completing or getting each of the individual pupils fully engaged with the task.

identifying the similarities and differences between the two assessment methods

What are Summative Assessments?

Summative exams can be used to assess pupil progress more formally , academic achievement and skill acquisition at the end of a specified instructional period —usually after completing a key stage, course, unit, project, program, semester or educational year.

External tests are usually used for summative purposes, to sum up what a student has learned at the end of a specific time, relative to the relevant national curriculum and learning objectives . The period of time allocated for exams or SATs will vary, depending upon what the education system wants to assess.

A summative task can be an observation , a cold written task, or a discussion . It can be recorded in a written format, in the form of photographs , through audio recording or any other visual media . Whichever way it is used, the insights can be used to indicate what has been learnt . Exams perform summative functions by providing a summary of what a student has attained at a specific point in time and may furnish cohort and individual data for informing stakeholders (such as parents or school leaders etc.) and tracking pupil progress against benchmark data or standardized tests.

These exams frequently have high stakes and learners tend to give priority to external tests over A4L activities . According to key figures in the world of education, feedback from both forms of appraisal should be used by the teachers and children to guide their activities and efforts in the upcoming courses.

Education experts claim that an over-dependence on testing  at the end of an element of study may help in achieving good grades, but offers very little response to students for improving performance before reaching the end of the programme/module. Thus maintaining a balance between summative and formative assessments is necessary.

Different student assessment methods

What are the benefits of formative assessment?

Formative assessment offers numerous benefits by enhancing the learning experience for both students and teachers. By providing continuous feedback, formative assessment supports long-term retention and cumulative knowledge acquisition , ensuring students grasp essential concepts.

Additionally, formative assessment informs curriculum planning by identifying areas where students require further assistance, allowing teachers to tailor their instruction to better meet individual needs.

In essence, formative assessment plays a vital role in fostering a dynamic and responsive educational environment, which ultimately leads to improved student outcomes.

To really advance school attainment, we need to build upon what a child already knows. When school leaders are engaged in national curriculum planning we are attempting to sequence a form of knowledge acquisition and skills progression. If a child has gaps in their understanding, this may hinder their progression.

Using critical questions and other mixed-assessment approaches helps us build a picture of the classes current understanding . These types of activities help us inform curriculum planning and ensure that we have achieved maximum coverage of the curriculum. The following are some of the most significant benefits of formative assessments:

  • Formative activities are carried out in a very positive and risk-free environment, where students can learn as well as experiment .
  • Formative tasks also prepare students for summative evaluation , as long as the teacher provides insightful feedback.

What are the benefits of summative assessment?

Research-based evidence about student achievement shows that summative judgments play an important role in developing memory. Retrieval practice, a powerful learning strategy, aids in consolidating students' memory by actively recalling information from their minds.

This process strengthens neural connections, making it easier to access the information in the future. By frequently engaging in retrieval practice , students reinforce their memory and enhance long-term retention. Additionally, the process helps identify any gaps in understanding, allowing for targeted revision and improved comprehension.

In summary, retrieval practice supports the development of durable and efficient memory networks, promoting deeper learning and lasting knowledge acquisition .

  • Refreshing the memories of what students have learned previously.
  • Reinforcing the overall learning objectives of the class.
  • Standardised tests also provide education authorities with the 'big-picture'.

Using graphic organisers to monitor student learning

Engaging students in a formative evaluation

It is possible to engage students in formative assessments by:

  • Clearly explaining the rationale of the formative functions: Students show more engagement with the formative assessments when it is made clear to them that through formative tasks they can gain experience and they can build much stronger skills to achieve better attainment levels in the summative assessments.
  • Creating a link between formative functions and summative judgements: Students seem to show more engagement with the formative evaluation when the formative assessments are designed to contribute to the summative tasks. This reduces the burden of learning on the students and offers students the necessary feedback to enhance their final performance. Some examples of formative assessments include generating a structure of a literature review, exit tickets, creating an essay plan , a part of the essay or a list of references.
  • Increasing the number of formative evaluations and reducing the number of summative tests: Still, it is recommended not to allow a summative individual assessment to have too much weight in the last grade. Accountability measures that schools have to adhere to can often dilute the authentic learning experiences we all strive for.

The process of designing and developing classroom-based checks can be a creative endeavour: what must be assessed, using summative or/ and formative assessment? What are the appropriate measures and functions of the assessment? And, are the assessments aligned with the course outline and learning outcomes?

‍ Research-based evidence about student achievement shows that the assessment design and quality the quality of its outcomes, and ultimately, whether those outcomes are suited to make significant decisions. Classroom-based assessments serve as the key components of the national curriculum. At Structural Learning , we have seen many primary schools use the block building methodology to find out what children understand (build what you know). Using the toolkit creatively in interactive lessons allows educators to embed learning reviews into teaching methods .

summative assessment benefits for teachers

Final points about student assessment

Any form of evaluation, carried out through formal or informal procedures, helps secondary and primary school students learn. Performing a classroom assessment provides an opportunity for students to see how they are performing in a class. Both formative and summative strategies are usually carried out at an individual level but there is no reason why group work cannot be used to monitor progress. Hearing a student articulating their ideas and demonstrating situation-specific skills can give us a lot of information.

A teacher can assess students attainment levels by performing a straightforward test and use the results to inform learning and teaching methods (thus also having formative advantages ). To summarise, many interactive lessons provide us with opportunities to gauge a pupils understanding. Whether you are asking critical questions or using a graphic organiser to help students communicate their understanding, you are figuring out the next steps a pupil has to take. It is also worth acknowledging how powerful feedback is as a classroom tool, the EEF toolkit which unpicks the best ways to advance school attainment consistently places this pedagogy high up the performance tables. 

summative assessment benefits for teachers

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Classroom Practice

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Teaching excellence & educational innovation, what is the difference between formative and summative assessment, formative assessment.

The goal of formative assessment is to monitor student learning to provide ongoing feedback that can be used by instructors to improve their teaching and by students to improve their learning. More specifically, formative assessments:

  • help students identify their strengths and weaknesses and target areas that need work
  • help faculty recognize where students are struggling and address problems immediately

Formative assessments are generally low stakes , which means that they have low or no point value. Examples of formative assessments include asking students to:

  • draw a concept map in class to represent their understanding of a topic
  • submit one or two sentences identifying the main point of a lecture
  • turn in a research proposal for early feedback

Summative assessment

The goal of summative assessment is to evaluate student learning at the end of an instructional unit by comparing it against some standard or benchmark.

Summative assessments are often high stakes , which means that they have a high point value. Examples of summative assessments include:

  • a midterm exam
  • a final project
  • a senior recital

Information from summative assessments can be used formatively when students or faculty use it to guide their efforts and activities in subsequent courses.

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Formative, Summative, and More Types of Assessments in Education

All the best ways to evaluate learning before, during, and after it happens.

Collage of types of assessments in education, including formative and summative

When you hear the word assessment, do you automatically think “tests”? While it’s true that tests are one kind of assessment, they’re not the only way teachers evaluate student progress. Learn more about the types of assessments used in education, and find out how and when to use them.

Diagnostic Assessments

Formative assessments, summative assessments.

  • Criterion-Referenced, Ipsative, and Normative Assessments

What is assessment?

In simplest terms, assessment means gathering data to help understand progress and effectiveness. In education, we gather data about student learning in variety of ways, then use it to assess both their progress and the effectiveness of our teaching programs. This helps educators know what’s working well and where they need to make changes.

Chart showing three types of assessments: diagnostic, formative, and summative

There are three broad types of assessments: diagnostic, formative, and summative. These take place throughout the learning process, helping students and teachers gauge learning. Within those three broad categories, you’ll find other types of assessment, such as ipsative, norm-referenced, and criterion-referenced.

What’s the purpose of assessment in education?

In education, we can group assessments under three main purposes:

  • Of learning
  • For learning
  • As learning

Assessment of learning is student-based and one of the most familiar, encompassing tests, reports, essays, and other ways of determining what students have learned. These are usually summative assessments, and they are used to gauge progress for individuals and groups so educators can determine who has mastered the material and who needs more assistance.

When we talk about assessment for learning, we’re referring to the constant evaluations teachers perform as they teach. These quick assessments—such as in-class discussions or quick pop quizzes—give educators the chance to see if their teaching strategies are working. This allows them to make adjustments in action, tailoring their lessons and activities to student needs. Assessment for learning usually includes the formative and diagnostic types.

Assessment can also be a part of the learning process itself. When students use self-evaluations, flash cards, or rubrics, they’re using assessments to help them learn.

Let’s take a closer look at the various types of assessments used in education.

Worksheet in a red binder called Reconstruction Anticipation Guide, used as a diagnostic pre-assessment (Types of Assessment)

Diagnostic assessments are used before learning to determine what students already do and do not know. This often refers to pre-tests and other activities students attempt at the beginning of a unit.

How To Use Diagnostic Assessments

When giving diagnostic assessments, it’s important to remind students these won’t affect their overall grade. Instead, it’s a way for them to find out what they’ll be learning in an upcoming lesson or unit. It can also help them understand their own strengths and weaknesses, so they can ask for help when they need it.

Teachers can use results to understand what students already know and adapt their lesson plans accordingly. There’s no point in over-teaching a concept students have already mastered. On the other hand, a diagnostic assessment can also help highlight expected pre-knowledge that may be missing.

For instance, a teacher might assume students already know certain vocabulary words that are important for an upcoming lesson. If the diagnostic assessment indicates differently, the teacher knows they’ll need to take a step back and do a little pre-teaching before getting to their actual lesson plans.

Examples of Diagnostic Assessments

  • Pre-test: This includes the same questions (or types of questions) that will appear on a final test, and it’s an excellent way to compare results.
  • Blind Kahoot: Teachers and kids already love using Kahoot for test review, but it’s also the perfect way to introduce a new topic. Learn how Blind Kahoots work here.
  • Survey or questionnaire: Ask students to rate their knowledge on a topic with a series of low-stakes questions.
  • Checklist: Create a list of skills and knowledge students will build throughout a unit, and have them start by checking off any they already feel they’ve mastered. Revisit the list frequently as part of formative assessment.

What stuck with you today? chart with sticky note exit tickets, used as formative assessment

Formative assessments take place during instruction. They’re used throughout the learning process and help teachers make on-the-go adjustments to instruction and activities as needed. These assessments aren’t used in calculating student grades, but they are planned as part of a lesson or activity. Learn much more about formative assessments here.

How To Use Formative Assessments

As you’re building a lesson plan, be sure to include formative assessments at logical points. These types of assessments might be used at the end of a class period, after finishing a hands-on activity, or once you’re through with a unit section or learning objective.

Once you have the results, use that feedback to determine student progress, both overall and as individuals. If the majority of a class is struggling with a specific concept, you might need to find different ways to teach it. Or you might discover that one student is especially falling behind and arrange to offer extra assistance to help them out.

While kids may grumble, standard homework review assignments can actually be a pretty valuable type of formative assessment . They give kids a chance to practice, while teachers can evaluate their progress by checking the answers. Just remember that homework review assignments are only one type of formative assessment, and not all kids have access to a safe and dedicated learning space outside of school.

Examples of Formative Assessments

  • Exit tickets : At the end of a lesson or class, pose a question for students to answer before they leave. They can answer using a sticky note, online form, or digital tool.
  • Kahoot quizzes : Kids enjoy the gamified fun, while teachers appreciate the ability to analyze the data later to see which topics students understand well and which need more time.
  • Flip (formerly Flipgrid): We love Flip for helping teachers connect with students who hate speaking up in class. This innovative (and free!) tech tool lets students post selfie videos in response to teacher prompts. Kids can view each other’s videos, commenting and continuing the conversation in a low-key way.
  • Self-evaluation: Encourage students to use formative assessments to gauge their own progress too. If they struggle with review questions or example problems, they know they’ll need to spend more time studying. This way, they’re not surprised when they don’t do well on a more formal test.

Find a big list of 25 creative and effective formative assessment options here.

Summative assessment in the form of a

Summative assessments are used at the end of a unit or lesson to determine what students have learned. By comparing diagnostic and summative assessments, teachers and learners can get a clearer picture of how much progress they’ve made. Summative assessments are often tests or exams but also include options like essays, projects, and presentations.

How To Use Summative Assessments

The goal of a summative assessment is to find out what students have learned and if their learning matches the goals for a unit or activity. Ensure you match your test questions or assessment activities with specific learning objectives to make the best use of summative assessments.

When possible, use an array of summative assessment options to give all types of learners a chance to demonstrate their knowledge. For instance, some students suffer from severe test anxiety but may still have mastered the skills and concepts and just need another way to show their achievement. Consider ditching the test paper and having a conversation with the student about the topic instead, covering the same basic objectives but without the high-pressure test environment.

Summative assessments are often used for grades, but they’re really about so much more. Encourage students to revisit their tests and exams, finding the right answers to any they originally missed. Think about allowing retakes for those who show dedication to improving on their learning. Drive home the idea that learning is about more than just a grade on a report card.

Examples of Summative Assessments

  • Traditional tests: These might include multiple-choice, matching, and short-answer questions.
  • Essays and research papers: This is another traditional form of summative assessment, typically involving drafts (which are really formative assessments in disguise) and edits before a final copy.
  • Presentations: From oral book reports to persuasive speeches and beyond, presentations are another time-honored form of summative assessment.

Find 25 of our favorite alternative assessments here.

More Types of Assessments

Now that you know the three basic types of assessments, let’s take a look at some of the more specific and advanced terms you’re likely to hear in professional development books and sessions. These assessments may fit into some or all of the broader categories, depending on how they’re used. Here’s what teachers need to know.

Criterion-Referenced Assessments

In this common type of assessment, a student’s knowledge is compared to a standard learning objective. Most summative assessments are designed to measure student mastery of specific learning objectives. The important thing to remember about this type of assessment is that it only compares a student to the expected learning objectives themselves, not to other students.

Chart comparing normative and criterion referenced types of assessment

Many standardized tests are criterion-referenced assessments. A governing board determines the learning objectives for a specific group of students. Then, all students take a standardized test to see if they’ve achieved those objectives.

Find out more about criterion-referenced assessments here.

Norm-Referenced Assessments

These types of assessments do compare student achievement with that of their peers. Students receive a ranking based on their score and potentially on other factors as well. Norm-referenced assessments usually rank on a bell curve, establishing an “average” as well as high performers and low performers.

These assessments can be used as screening for those at risk for poor performance (such as those with learning disabilities) or to identify high-level learners who would thrive on additional challenges. They may also help rank students for college entrance or scholarships, or determine whether a student is ready for a new experience like preschool.

Learn more about norm-referenced assessments here.

Ipsative Assessments

In education, ipsative assessments compare a learner’s present performance to their own past performance, to chart achievement over time. Many educators consider ipsative assessment to be the most important of all , since it helps students and parents truly understand what they’ve accomplished—and sometimes, what they haven’t. It’s all about measuring personal growth.

Comparing the results of pre-tests with final exams is one type of ipsative assessment. Some schools use curriculum-based measurement to track ipsative performance. Kids take regular quick assessments (often weekly) to show their current skill/knowledge level in reading, writing, math, and other basics. Their results are charted, showing their progress over time.

Learn more about ipsative assessment in education here.

Have more questions about the best types of assessments to use with your students? Come ask for advice in the We Are Teachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.

Plus, check out creative ways to check for understanding ..

Learn about the basic types of assessments educators use in and out of the classroom, and how to use them most effectively with students.

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What Is Formative Assessment and How Should Teachers Use It?

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Benefits of Using Summative and Formative Assessments in ESL Classrooms

  • Evaluating and Testing
  • May 3, 2022

The terms summative and formative assessments may be words typically associated with traditional schooling. However, they don’t need to stay in traditional subject classrooms. Summative and formative assessments can be used to facilitate English language acquisition. They offer benefits to both English language students and teachers toward accomplishing language goals. We’ll explain how in today’s blog.

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Summative Assessments

Summative assessments are those typical end-of-course, end-of-semester, end-of-term tests we encounter in elementary and high school. These tests tell teachers, administrators, educational authorities, and parents whether learners achieved educational objectives during the term or course of study.

Summative assessments typically used at the end of a course of instruction to determine if the goals of a curriculum were achieved. They can be anything from the end of term assessments, research papers, standardized tests, and the like. As such, they measure longer periods of time and cover multiple learning objectives.

So, how can we, as English teachers use summative assessments to our advantage in ESL classrooms? One way is using them to determine how well learners acquired the language within a course. If, for example, the goal of a six-week English language program is for learners to be able to use English in six everyday activities (e.g., shopping at the mall, going to the dentist, flight travel, going to the doctor, eating out, and taking public transportation), they can be used to measure if learners have met this course goal.

Along those lines, summative assessments can also be used to measure learning for each element of the same course. The bottom line is, summative assessments are formal tests used to understand and quantify learner achievement of objectives. Summative assessments provide those grades and or percentages we see after student names. And, they’re often cause for stress in these same students. But it doesn’t have to be that way if we’re aware of and can convey the benefits.

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Benefits for Students

1) Summative assessments offer an opportunity to refresh students’ memories of what they previously learned.

2) Summative assessments reinforce the overall learning objectives of the course.

3) Summative assessments provide a snapshot for class members to see if they know the collective language points or not.

4) Summative assessments can tell learners if they should proceed to the next level. By helping learners understand these points, we may be able to reduce their apprehension. Then, class members may be more apt to look forward to these times. As they prepare, remind learners of areas they may have forgotten or that need a little more focus.

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Benefits for English Teachers

1) Teachers and academic managers can use the results of summative assessments to guide their decisions for future curriculum development.

2) Summative assessments can help indicate overall progress and show if moving forward is practical.

3) Use summative assessments to demonstrate if learning has been achieved quantitatively. Use those measurable numbers to provide facts and figures to anyone who may want to inquire as to the effectiveness of a course of instruction.

Formative Assessments

Formative assessments, on the other hand, are tools that we can use to check how well students learned the material. They can be in the form of quizzes or assignments, games, group activities, projects, reports, presentations, progress checks, simple question and answer sessions, and so on. They help teachers measure in micro terms whether individual lessons, modules, goals, or short-term objectives have been met.

As English language teachers, we can use formative assessments like surgical instruments in language learning. They help us keep learners on the path toward language acquisition goals of the curriculum. We can also use results from formative assessments to make adjustments. Finally, we can use formative assessments to enhance language acquisition by helping learners check individual progress within individual lessons.

1) Use formative assessments with regularity (e.g., a quiz every Friday). This way you can use them to provide an element of stability for learners.

2) Since formative assessments can take many forms, they can also break up the monotony of traditional classroom environments where the teach-test-teach system prevails.

3) Formative assessments do not require traditional numbered or lettered grades. They can simply be pass or fail, or even labeled with colors, stars, or other indicators. This takes some of the stress from learners and allows them to simply focus on language acquisition instead of grades.

4) Formative assessments reinforce language acquisition.

1) We can use formative assessments to adjust our teaching methods or strategies.

2) Formative assessments can help us recognize weak areas. Since classrooms are groups, not all learners are at the same place. And, a private class is only one of many. So, we cannot put every learner into a one-size-fits-all approach. Formative assessments help identify those individual weak areas.

3) Formative assessments can help us identify problem areas more immediately than summative assessments — before it’s too late to adjust.

4) Formative assessments can take any form. As such, they allow a great amount of flexibility for you, the teacher.

5) Formative tests help paint pictures of learning in a course of instruction. This allows you to make adjustments. And, they are different than summative tests which are more like taking photographs – it’s too late to change anything once the photo’s been taken.

6) Formative assessments help us see patterns in instruction that may need to be adjusted.

7) Formative assessments can help us decide whether to move forward or stay a little longer on a particular language point.

Read: Assessment and Evaluation in the ESL Classroom

Parting Thoughts

Which one is better? Formative or Summative Assessments? As English teachers, we don’t always need to shy away from traditional classroom methods of assessment. We can put them to good use. English language learners could benefit more from strategically utilizing formative assessments. On the other hand, summative assessments are quite useful in determining if language acquisition has indeed taken place over the course of instruction. Read: What Is the Difference Between Formative and Summative Assessment ?

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This page contains information on formative assessment and the Formative Assessment in the Year Before School Project.

Formative assessment refers to educators’ collection of formal or informal information during children’s learning experiences to inform teaching strategies and learning experiences for improved learning outcomes.

Formative assessment is an ongoing and integral part of the assessment and planning cycle used by teachers and educators in their everyday practice under the National Quality Standard, Quality Area 1 (Standard 1.3) , and the Early Years Learning Framework V2.0 .

It is important that teachers and educators understand effective formative assessment and how to implement it in their context.

Benefits of formative assessment tools

Benefits for early childhood teachers and educators.

Formative assessment tools support teachers and educators to implement the assessment and planning cycle by providing a framework to:

  • understand, interpret and document a child’s learning, wellbeing and development
  • inform pedagogy and practice
  • support the development, implementation and evaluation of educational programs.

Formative assessment tools can be used throughout the year to complement teacher and educators’ existing practices.

Benefits for children

Formative assessment can document the different pathways that children take in their learning journeys and make their own learning and development visible to them. Rich and meaningful information can be documented that depicts children’s learning in context, having their voices heard, their beliefs understood and valued; their sense of self affirmed and knowing more about themselves.

Benefits for parents and carers

Formative assessment can support the inclusion of parents and carers in the assessment and planning cycle, providing them with opportunities to reflect on and share information with teachers and educators about their child’s learning and development.

Formative Assessment in the Year Before School Project

In 2024, the NSW Department of Education is working with eligible early childhood education and care (ECEC) services to explore the use of formative assessment tools to understand how they may be used in NSW.

The project will inform the department’s approach to the 2025 national trial of the Preschool Outcomes Measure, which is a key reform of the Preschool Reform Agreement. This includes determining a formative assessment tool that complements existing teaching and learning practices in NSW ECEC services to support all children’s learning, development and wellbeing outcomes.

To participate, approved services must meet the eligibility criteria outlined in the project guidelines .

Services who are selected to be part of the project will be allocated formative assessment tools to explore in their service and will receive professional learning and up to $8,000 .

For more information on the formative assessment in the year before school project, including financial support, read the project guidelines .

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What Is a Formative Assessment? Types, Examples & Strategies

Matthew Tang

Matthew Tang

eLearning & Instructional Design Expert

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Matthew Tang is a highly skilled eLearning consultant with over two decades of experience in delivering exceptional learning products. He has taught students in public schools and online, led online ... Read more

Matthew Tang is a highly skilled eLearning consultant with over two decades of experience in delivering exceptional learning products. He has taught students in public schools and online, led online education for a Fortune 50 company, partnered with university researchers to pioneer new learning technologies, and delivered expert learning solutions to clients of all sizes. With a genuine passion for helping individuals succeed and reach their academic or business goals, Matthew continually improves and innovates educational technology solutions, making him a trusted authority in eLearning. Read less

Michael Laithangbam

Author & Editor at ProProfs

Michael is a seasoned writer with 12+ years of experience in online learning and training. His work empowers organizations to harness the potential of knowledge in the digital era.

formative assessment

Ever noticed how the most memorable lessons stick with us not because of a final grade, but because of the journey there? 

That’s the magic of formative assessments—they’re not just checkpoints; they’re the secret ingredients that make learning stick. 

This blog post dives into the heart of formative assessments, revealing how they can transform classrooms by turning every lesson into an opportunity for growth and every mistake into a learning moment. 

In this definitive guide, we’ll explore the what, why, and how of formative assessments—from their defining characteristics and purpose to a variety of types and strategies for effective use in the classroom. 

Let’s begin.

What Is a Formative Assessment?

Formative assessment is a strategic approach used by educators to monitor students’ learning progress and adjust teaching methods accordingly. It’s characterized by its real-time application, providing immediate feedback that educators can use to adapt their instruction to meet learners’ current needs. 

Unlike summative assessments that evaluate overall learning at the end of an instructional period, formative assessments are conducted throughout the learning process. 

They can take various forms, including quizzes, interactive discussions, and peer reviews, all aimed at gauging understanding and facilitating continuous improvement.

Watch: How to Create an Online Quiz in Under 5 Mins

What Is the Purpose of Formative Assessment?

The purpose of formative assessment is to enhance the learning process by identifying students’ strengths and areas for growth. This ongoing assessment method allows educators to:

  • Modify teaching strategies in real-time to address the immediate needs of their students.
  • Support personalized learning, ensuring that instruction is tailored to individual student progress.
  • Foster an environment of continuous feedback and growth, encouraging students to engage more deeply with their learning and identify their areas for improvement.

By integrating formative assessment into their teaching, educators can create a dynamic and responsive learning environment that supports student success and promotes a deeper understanding of the material.

Types & Examples of Formative Assessment

Formative assessments come in various formats, each designed to gather feedback on student learning in a way that informs instruction and supports student growth. Here are some common formative assessment tools:

  • Quizzes & Mini-Tests: These brief assessments are powerful tools for gauging student knowledge in a focused manner. 

When used regularly, they can highlight trends in student understanding over time, allowing educators to pinpoint specific topics that may require additional instruction or review.

Watch: How to Use Online Quiz Maker for Teachers

  • Observations & Check-Ins: This approach involves informal yet purposeful monitoring of students during class activities. 

It offers nuanced insights into how students interact with the material and each other, providing a real-time snapshot of engagement and comprehension levels.

  • Interactive Discussions: Encouraging open dialogue about the material not only reinforces students’ understanding but also cultivates critical thinking skills. 

Discussions can unveil diverse interpretations and misconceptions, guiding educators in tailoring subsequent lessons to address these gaps.

  • Peer Reviews: Students engage in a reciprocal learning process by evaluating each other’s work. This method not only diversifies feedback but also encourages students to critically engage with the curriculum, deepening their understanding through the lens of their peers’ perspectives.
  • Exit Tickets: Simple prompts or questions at the end of a lesson offer immediate feedback on the day’s learning outcomes. Analyzing responses helps educators assess the effectiveness of their teaching and plan necessary adjustments for future classes.
  • Learning Journals: Journals that prompt reflection on what was learned and questions that arose during the lesson help students articulate their thoughts and feelings about their learning journey. 

Reviewing these journals gives educators a window into students’ self-perceived progress and areas of difficulty.

Incorporating a mix of these formative assessment types enriches the learning environment and empowers students to take an active role in their education. 

Educators can harness these tools to create a dynamic classroom atmosphere that values growth, encourages engagement, and fosters a deeper connection to the material. 

What Is the Process of a Formative Assessment?

The formative assessment process is a cyclical, interactive approach designed to gauge student understanding, provide feedback, and continuously adapt instruction throughout the learning journey. It’s a dynamic framework that supports teaching and enhances learning. 

Here’s a breakdown of the key steps involved:

Step 1: Identify Learning Objectives 

The first step involves clearly defining what students should learn. These objectives guide the creation of assessment tasks and ensure that the assessment is aligned with instructional goals.

Step 2: Select Appropriate Assessment Methods 

Choose from various assessment methods (e.g., quizzes, discussions, projects) that best suit the learning objectives and the learner’s needs. This diversity allows for a more comprehensive understanding of student learning.

Step 3: Implement the Assessment 

Carry out the chosen formative assessment during the instructional process. This could be through live quizzes, interactive discussions, peer reviews, or individual reflections. The key is to integrate these assessments seamlessly into the learning activities.

Step 4: Analyze Learner Responses 

summative assessment benefits for teachers

Review the information gathered from the assessment to identify patterns, strengths, and areas for improvement. This analysis provides insights into each student’s understanding and progress.

Step 5: Provide Feedback 

summative assessment benefits for teachers

Offer timely and constructive feedback to students based on their performance. Effective feedback is specific, actionable, and focused on growth, helping students understand what they did well and where they can improve.

Step 6: Adjust Instruction 

Based on the feedback and analysis, adapt your teaching strategies to address the identified learning gaps or challenges. This might involve revisiting specific topics, introducing new resources, or modifying learning activities to suit students’ needs better.

Step 7: Reflect on the Process 

Finally, reflect on the effectiveness of the formative assessment process itself. Consider what worked well and what could be improved in future iterations. This reflection helps refine the assessment process, making it more effective over time.

Throughout this process, the emphasis is on fostering an environment of continuous learning and improvement. By actively engaging in each step, educators can create a responsive classroom atmosphere that supports every student’s growth and achievement.

Strategies for Effective Formative Assessments

To maximize the benefits of formative assessments, educators need to apply strategies that make the feedback loop as effective and seamless as possible. Here’s how to ensure formative assessments contribute positively to both teaching and learning:

  • Embed Assessments in Everyday Learning 

Make formative assessments a natural extension of classroom activities. After a science experiment, for instance, ask students to predict the outcome based on the theory they’ve learned. This not only assesses their understanding but also encourages critical thinking.

  • Embrace Technology for Interactive Learning 

Modern tools have revolutionized the way we assess and engage with students. ProProfs Quiz Maker, for example, offers an intuitive platform for creating quizzes that are both fun and educational. 

You can create educational quizzes that provide instant feedback, helping students identify areas of strength and those needing improvement, all within an interactive format that captures their interest.

  • Foster a Culture of Peer Feedback

Implement structured peer review sessions where students can offer constructive feedback on each other’s presentations or essays. This strategy not only diversifies the sources of feedback but also helps students develop a critical eye for their work and that of their peers.

  • Encourage Reflective Practices 

Guide students in reflecting on their learning experiences and outcomes. A reflective journal entry after completing a group project can provide insights into what they learned, the challenges they faced, and how they overcame them, fostering a deeper understanding of the learning process.

  • Connect Learning to Real-world Applications 

Design assessments that require students to apply classroom knowledge to solve real-world problems. For instance, in a geography class, students could analyze the impact of climate change on their local community, encouraging them to connect theory with practical, observable phenomena.

  • Leverage Exit Tickets for Immediate Insights 

At the end of a lesson, a simple question related to the day’s topic can serve as an exit ticket. This strategy offers quick insights into students’ understanding and retention, informing future instructional decisions.

Implementing these strategies can make formative assessments a powerful tool for enhancing student learning, providing educators with the flexibility to meet each student’s needs while fostering a supportive and inclusive classroom environment.

What Are the Benefits of a Formative Assessment?

Formative assessments offer a wealth of benefits that significantly contribute to both teaching efficacy and student learning outcomes. 

By integrating formative assessments into the educational process, educators and students can experience a more engaged, reflective, and practical learning journey. Here are some of the key benefits:

  • Enhanced Learning and Understanding 

Formative assessments help students consolidate their learning by actively engaging with the material. This continuous engagement promotes deeper understanding and retention of the content.

Watch: How Luc Viatour Transformed Education for 1500+ Daily Learners

  • Immediate Feedback for Quick Adjustments

The real-time feedback provided through formative assessments allows students to identify their strengths and areas for improvement promptly. This immediacy enables quick corrective actions, fostering a more dynamic and responsive learning environment.

  • Personalized Learning Experiences 

Formative assessments identify individual learning needs, enabling educators to tailor their teaching strategies and resources. This personalization ensures that all students receive the support and challenge they need to progress.

  • Increased Student Motivation and Engagement 

Active involvement in the learning process increases students’ motivation and engagement. Formative assessments encourage students to take ownership of their learning, leading to higher levels of participation and interest.

  • Development of Critical Thinking and Skills 

Through activities like peer reviews and self-assessments, students develop essential skills, including critical thinking, self-reflection, and the ability to receive and apply feedback constructively.

  • Support for a Growth Mindset 

Formative assessments emphasize growth and improvement over grades, helping to cultivate a growth mindset among students. This perspective encourages learners to view challenges as opportunities to learn and grow rather than as failures.

  • Improved Teacher-Student Relationships 

The continuous interaction and feedback loop foster closer relationships between teachers and students. This rapport builds a supportive classroom atmosphere where students feel valued and understood.

  • Data-Driven Instructional Decisions 

Insights from formative assessments give educators a clear view of student understanding, enabling precise, data-driven adjustments to teaching. This targeted approach ensures lessons meet students’ exact needs, optimizing learning outcomes.

  • Reduction of Test Anxiety 

Integrating formative assessments throughout the learning journey shifts the focus from high-stakes evaluation to ongoing improvement, significantly easing test-related stress. This frequent, low-pressure feedback mechanism familiarizes students with the assessment process, building their confidence and diminishing anxiety over time.

  • Preparation for Summative Assessments 

Regular formative assessments prepare students for summative assessments by ensuring they understand the material and can apply their knowledge effectively. This preparation can lead to better performance on final exams and standardized tests.

Watch: How DMS Boosted Student Scores

How to Create a Formative Assessment Quiz

If you’re using an intuitive quiz tool, such as ProProfs Quiz Maker, the process for creating a quiz is quite straightforward. Here’s how to create a formative assessment quiz in five quick and easy steps:

Step 1: Click “Create a Quiz” on your dashboard. 

summative assessment benefits for teachers

Step 2: Pick a ready-to-use quiz, create a quiz with AI , or build it from scratch.

summative assessment benefits for teachers

Step 3: Add/edit the quiz title, description & cover image.

summative assessment benefits for teachers

Step 4: Add/edit questions. 

summative assessment benefits for teachers

Employ a variety of question formats to explore diverse knowledge and skill areas, guaranteeing a thorough examination of the topic at hand. 

ProProfs provides an array of question styles, including multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blanks, drag & drop, hotspot, and audio/video responses, facilitating a detailed assessment of learners’ comprehension.

Watch: 15+ Question Types for Online Learning & Assessment

You can add new questions by:

  • importing them from 1,000,000+ ready-to-use questions  
  • using ProProfs AI to generate questions instantly 
  • creating them by yourself

You can add images, videos, audio clips, and docs to your quiz. 

summative assessment benefits for teachers

You can also automate the grading of your quizzes to save time and effort, which you can invest in providing individualized support to your learners.   

Watch: How to Automate Quiz Scoring & Grading

You also have the option to offer explanations for answers immediately after a question is answered in the quiz. This instant feedback not only supports the learning process but also enables students to recognize areas requiring improvement.

Step 5: Configure settings.

You can implement several security and anti-cheating measures , including:

  • Setting your quiz to be private and secured with a password
  • Randomizing the sequence of questions and/or answer choices
  • Developing a question pool and drawing a random selection of questions for each participant
  • Overseeing the quiz through screen sharing, webcam, and microphone monitoring
  • Preventing tab switching, printing, copying, downloading, and repeated attempts

Watch: How to Customize & Configure Your Quiz Settings

You can also change the quiz’s appearance by adjusting the background, colors, fonts, and button text. Plus, you can set the quiz to appear in the participant’s native language.

summative assessment benefits for teachers

That’s it. Your formative assessment quiz is ready.

Analyzing the Results

After administering a formative assessment, ProProfs Quiz Maker delivers in-depth analytics that paints a complete picture of every student’s learning progress and overall class performance. This data is essential for modifying instructional strategies to better align with students’ learning needs. 

Apply this insightful feedback to adjust your teaching plans, focusing on clarifying common misconceptions and bolstering areas where students show weaknesses.

Enhance Classroom Dynamics With Formative Assessments

In conclusion, formative assessments are the core of an adaptive and responsive teaching strategy. They offer a clear window into student progress and areas for growth. This approach aligns instruction closely with student needs, significantly enhancing learning outcomes. 

By incorporating tools like ProProfs Quiz Maker, educators can design engaging and insightful assessments that contribute to a tailored learning experience. 

Start elevating your teaching approach by trying out ProProfs Quiz Maker through a free trial or requesting a demonstration today.

Frequently Asked Questions  

What are formative and summative assessments?

Formative assessments are tools teachers use during the learning process to see how students are doing and to adjust their teaching methods. Summative assessments happen at the end of a learning period, like a final exam, to measure what students have learned overall.

Are quizzes summative or formative?

Quizzes can act as both formative and summative assessments. As formative assessments, quizzes are used throughout the learning process to guide both teaching and learning. As summative assessments, quizzes evaluate students’ final understanding at the end of a unit or semester.

Is a worksheet a formative assessment?

Worksheets can serve as formative assessments when used to monitor students’ understanding and inform future teaching strategies. They become practical tools for ongoing learning and adaptation in the classroom, emphasizing feedback over final grades.

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Michael Laithangbam

About the author

Michael laithangbam.

Michael Laithangbam is the senior writer & editor at ProProfs with 12 years of experience in enterprise software and eLearning. Michael's expertise encompasses online training, web-based learning, quizzes & assessments, LMS, and more. Michael’s work has been published in G2, Software Advice, Capterra, and eLearning Industry.

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Examples

Formative Assessment

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summative assessment benefits for teachers

Formative Assessment refers to a variety of methods that educators use to conduct evaluations of student learning, comprehension, academic needs, and educational progress throughout a course or unit. Unlike summative assessments, which evaluate student learning at the end of an instructional period, formative assessments are ongoing and provide continuous feedback that can be used by instructors to improve their teaching and by students to improve their learning. This type of assessment is typically informal and does not contribute to a student’s final grade. It is primarily used as a diagnostic tool aimed at identifying students’ strengths and weaknesses and tailoring instruction accordingly. Examples of formative assessment include quizzes, drafts, peer reviews, questioning strategies, and discussions that help teachers adjust their teaching strategies and help students enhance their understanding and skills.

What is Formative Assessment?

Formative Assessment refers to a variety of methods that educators use to conduct evaluations of student comprehension, learning needs, and academic progress during a lesson, unit, or course. Unlike summative assessments which aim to evaluate student learning at the end of an instructional period by comparing it against a standard or benchmark, formative assessments are more about monitoring student learning to provide ongoing feedback that can be used by instructors to improve their teaching and by students to enhance their learning.

Characteristics of Formative Assessment:

Continuous : It involves regular, ongoing assessment throughout the learning process. Interactive : It requires interaction between the teacher and students to discuss the feedback. Adaptive : It helps teachers tailor instruction to meet students’ needs in real-time. Informative : It provides valuable insights not only to the teacher about how to adjust the teaching methods but also to students about how they can improve their understanding and skills.

Importance of Formative Assessment

Formative assessment plays a critical role in the educational process by providing multiple benefits to both teachers and students. Here are six key reasons why formative assessment is important:

1. Enhances Student Engagement and Motivation

Formative assessment actively involves students in their own learning process. By receiving regular and immediate feedback, students become more engaged and motivated to understand the material and improve their performance.

2. Supports Personalized Learning

Each student has unique learning needs and paces. Formative assessment allows educators to tailor their instructional strategies to meet the individual needs of each student. This personalized approach helps to maximize learning efficiency and effectiveness.

3. Identifies Learning Gaps Early

By regularly assessing students throughout the teaching process, educators can identify knowledge gaps or misunderstandings early on. This early detection enables timely intervention before misconceptions become deeply ingrained, helping students stay on track with their learning goals.

4. Promotes Self-regulation in Students

Formative assessments encourage students to think critically about their own learning and identify areas where they can improve. This self-assessment helps develop their metacognitive skills, making them more aware and in control of their learning processes.

5. Facilitates Constructive Feedback

Unlike summative assessments, which often provide only scores or grades, formative assessments offer detailed feedback that students can use to improve their performance. This feedback is not just corrective; it is instructive and constructive, providing specific advice on how to enhance understanding and skills.

6. Improves Instructional Methods

Formative assessment also benefits educators by providing them with insights into how effective their teaching methods are. Based on ongoing assessments, teachers can adjust their teaching styles and techniques to better suit their students’ needs, ensuring that their instructional methods are as effective as possible.

Types of Formative Assessment

Types of Formative Assessment

Formative assessments are varied and can be integrated into teaching strategies in many creative ways. Below are some of the key types of formative assessment that educators can use to gauge student learning and provide timely feedback:

Observations Observational assessments involve teachers watching students during activities or projects to assess how well they understand the material and apply their skills. This method allows teachers to gather insights into students’ capabilities and areas where they may need more support.

Quizzes Short quizzes administered during a unit or after a lesson help teachers measure the students’ understanding of specific topics. These can be oral, written, or even digital, providing immediate feedback to both the student and the teacher.

Exit Tickets At the end of a lesson, students are asked to write down a quick response to a question or a summary of what they’ve learned. Exit tickets provide immediate insight into the students’ grasp of the day’s content, helping teachers plan future lessons.

One-on-One Conferences Personal interactions between teacher and student can be highly effective for understanding individual student progress and challenges. During these conferences, teachers can provide personalized feedback and support to help each student advance.

Peer Reviews Allowing students to assess each other’s work can enhance understanding and provide new perspectives on the material. Peer reviews encourage collaborative learning and help students learn to give and receive constructive feedback.

Learning Journals Students keep journals to reflect on their learning experiences, document their thoughts about what they are learning, and discuss how they can apply the knowledge. Journals help students internalize what they have learned and provide teachers with insights into their students’ progress and thoughts.

Question and Answer Sessions Regular Q&A sessions help clarify students’ doubts and reinforce learning. These sessions encourage active participation and ensure students can ask questions about things they haven’t understood.

Portfolios A collection of a student’s work over time can be used as a formative assessment. Portfolios often include a variety of works and provide a comprehensive view of a student’s progress and abilities.

Self-Assessment Involving students in their own assessment process helps them become active participants in their learning journey. Through self-assessment, students evaluate their own work against set criteria, which helps them understand their own strengths and areas for improvement.

Interactive Technology Tools Various digital tools and software allow for interactive assessments, such as educational games, online quizzes, and digital simulations. These tools can provide immediate feedback and are engaging for students, helping maintain their interest and motivation.

Examples of Formative Assessment

Here are examples across various subjects and settings that demonstrate how formative assessments can be effectively utilized:

English Language Arts

Peer Editing Sessions : Students exchange drafts of their essays and provide feedback on each other’s use of language, thesis coherence, and argument strength. Literary Discussion Circles : Small groups discuss themes, character development, and plot twists in a book they are reading, helping the teacher gauge comprehension and engagement.

Mathematics

Mini Whiteboard Questions : Students use mini whiteboards to solve problems posed by the teacher and hold up their answers, allowing the teacher to quickly assess understanding and correct misconceptions in real-time. Math Journals : Students regularly write reflections in their journals about their problem-solving processes and understanding of mathematical concepts.

Lab Station Rotations : During laboratory experiments, students rotate through various stations where they conduct different parts of an experiment, allowing the teacher to observe their practical skills and conceptual understanding. Concept Maps : Students create concept maps that connect ideas from a unit on ecosystems, showing their understanding of how different components interact.

Social Studies

Debates : Students engage in debates over historical issues or current events, which helps the teacher evaluate their critical thinking, understanding of the topic, and ability to argue different viewpoints. Timeline Activities : Students construct timelines of historical events, helping them organize information chronologically and allowing teachers to check for accurate understanding of sequences and causality.

Foreign Languages

Role-play Exercises : Students perform role-plays in the target language, simulating real-life situations to demonstrate conversational skills, vocabulary usage, and cultural awareness. Interactive Quizzes : Utilizing digital platforms, students complete quizzes that assess their grammar and vocabulary comprehension in the target language, with immediate feedback provided.

Physical Education

Skill Stations : During a class on basketball, students rotate through stations focusing on different skills such as dribbling, shooting, and passing, which the teacher uses to assess individual student abilities. Fitness Logs : Students keep a log of their personal fitness activities and goals, reflecting on their progress and areas for improvement.

Portfolio Reviews : Students maintain a portfolio of their artwork which they review with the teacher, discussing techniques, artistic choices, and personal growth. Critique Sessions : Students present a piece of their artwork for class critique, receiving constructive feedback from peers and the teacher on their artistic expression and techniques.

Formative Assessment Strategies

Formative assessment strategies are diverse and can be tailored to fit different classroom dynamics and educational goals. Here are several effective strategies that educators can adopt to enhance learning and provide ongoing feedback:

Think-Pair-Share encourages students to think about a specific topic or question on their own, discuss it with a partner, and then share their insights with the larger group. This strategy not only promotes understanding through collaboration but also allows teachers to assess comprehension and facilitate discussions based on student responses.

Exit Slips require students to write answers to specific questions on a small piece of paper at the end of the class. This method helps teachers quickly gauge whether students have understood the day’s material and what might need further clarification.

Graphic Organizers such as Venn diagrams, flow charts, and mind maps can help students visually organize their knowledge about a topic. Teachers can use these organizers to assess students’ understanding of relationships between concepts and their ability to synthesize information.

Socratic Seminars involve creating a dialogic class where students discuss a text or topic deeply. The teacher acts as a facilitator, posing questions and guiding discussion, while also gauging students’ critical thinking and comprehension through their participation and insights.

Interactive Quizzes using digital platforms offer real-time feedback and engagement, making it a fun and effective way for students to learn and for teachers to assess understanding. These platforms often provide analytics that can help pinpoint areas where students struggle.

Peer Assessment allows students to give feedback on each other’s work. This not only helps students understand grading criteria and improve their work based on peer feedback but also encourages a deeper engagement with the learning material.

Self-Assessment involves students in their own evaluation by reflecting on their learning and identifying strengths and areas for improvement. This strategy encourages self-regulation and helps students become active participants in their learning process.

Formative Assessment vs Summative Assessment

Formative assessment:.

  • Purpose: The primary aim of formative assessment is to monitor student learning and provide ongoing feedback that can be used to improve the instructional process and enhance student learning. It helps identify areas where students are struggling and need more support.
  • Timing: It occurs continuously throughout the instructional process. Teachers assess students in the middle of lessons, units, or projects to get insights into the students’ understanding and progress.
  • Feedback: Formative assessment is inherently interactive, offering immediate feedback to students which helps them understand what they are doing well and where they need improvement. This feedback is also crucial for teachers as it allows them to adjust their teaching strategies in real-time.
  • Examples: Examples include quizzes, one-on-one conferences, peer reviews, exit tickets, and observational notes.

Summative Assessment:

  • Purpose: Summative assessment aims to evaluate student learning at the end of an instructional unit by comparing it against some standard or benchmark. It is used to determine whether students have mastered specific competencies and to what extent they have achieved the learning outcomes of the course.
  • Timing: This type of assessment occurs at the end of a course, semester, or unit, providing a final measure of student proficiency after instruction is completed.
  • Feedback: The feedback from summative assessments typically comes in the form of grades or scores. It is more formal and often used for reporting purposes, such as grades on report cards. The feedback cycle is longer, and while it informs students of their performance, it is less about immediate improvement and more about evaluation.
  • Examples: Standardized tests, final exams, end-of-unit projects, and comprehensive portfolio evaluations are common forms of summative assessment.

FAQ’s

What are the 4 components of formative assessment.

The four components of formative assessment are identifying learning goals, providing feedback, involving students in self-assessment, and adjusting instruction based on assessment results.

What are the benefits of formative assessment?

The key benefits include improved student engagement, enhanced understanding, individualized learning, early identification of learning gaps, and increased opportunities for corrective feedback. It encourages students to take an active role in their learning process.

How does formative assessment impact teaching?

Formative assessment provides valuable insights into student understanding and learning progress, which helps teachers adjust their instructional methods. It allows educators to identify effective strategies and areas that need more focus, thereby improving the overall effectiveness of their teaching.

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COMMENTS

  1. What Is Summative Assessment: A Practical Guide For Teachers

    Summative assessment is an evaluation of students' current understanding and achievement. It allows teachers to track learners' progress over a period of time. It is done at the end of teaching unit or several teaching units and can be benchmarked or standardised against other students' work.

  2. Summative Assessment and Feedback

    Summative Assessment and Feedback. Summative assessments are given to students at the end of a course and should measure the skills and knowledge a student has gained over the entire instructional period. Summative feedback is aimed at helping students understand how well they have done in meeting the overall learning goals of the course.

  3. Summative Assessment: What Teachers Need to Know

    Summative assessment gives students a level, usually numerical, and placement in which they can be compared against both other students and the standards for their grade. This is most commonly seen in: Literacy tests. College entrance exams like the SAT or ACT. End of year school, county, or statewide testing.

  4. What is Summative Assesment? Examples, Importance & More

    Summative Assessment Examples. 1. In-depth reports. A typical SA example is asking students to pick a topic and write a full report. It helps students research in-depth and use their creativity to write a report. You can evaluate passion, intelligence, and overall student performance through reports. 2.

  5. Summative Assessments

    Summative assessments are usually graded, are weighted more heavily than other course assignments or comprise a substantial percentage of a students' overall grade (and are often considered "high stakes" assessments relative to other, "lower stakes" assessments in a course), and are required assessments for the completion of a course.

  6. Summative Assessment

    The decisions a teacher makes based on summative assessment tools such as exams and presentations have real-world consequences on students, instructors, and academic organizations. In addition to more traditional assessment outcomes (e.g., grades), summative assessments can also affect students' ability to pursue certain coursework (e.g ...

  7. Summative Assessments

    Summative assessments are implemented at the end of a unit, set of units, or entire course to assess and evaluate the extent to which students have achieved the learning objectives (knowledge, skills, and behaviors) for that period of instruction. Summative assessments are typically higher stakes (higher point value) than formative assessments ...

  8. What is summative assessment? How to further learning with ...

    Summative assessment is a specific type of assessment that evaluates learning and offers little opportunity for providing student feedback because of its positioning at the end of a learning unit. They are usually high-stakes, contributing to a large portion of a student's course grade (e.g., final exams) or an exam that has a high impact on ...

  9. Summative Assessments

    In summative assessment, students should be ready to show proof of learning of the course goals. Examples of summative assessment include exams, papers, projects, or portfolios. Although summative assessments are a critical component in a course, it is also important to support student learning through formative assessments and frequent feedback.

  10. PDF Research on Classroom Summative Assessment

    Impact of Summative Assessments on Students, Teachers, and the Curriculum The second review (Harlen, 2004), which synthesized 23 studies, conducted mostly in England and the United States, involved stu-dents between the ages of 4 and 18. Twenty stud - ies involved embedding summative assessment in regular classroom activities (i.e., portfolios

  11. Summative Assessment

    Summative assessments are used to evaluate student learning, skill acquisition, and academic achievement at the conclusion of instruction—typically at the end of a project, unit, course, semester, or program. ... Indiana University Bloomington's Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning lists some guiding questions to assist faculty to ...

  12. Formative and Summative Assessments

    In short, formative assessment occurs throughout a class or course, and seeks to improve student achievement of learning objectives through approaches that can support specific student needs (Theal and Franklin, 2010, p. 151). In contrast, summative assessments evaluate student learning, knowledge, proficiency, or success at the conclusion of ...

  13. Formative and Summative assessments: A teacher's guide

    While summative assessments are useful in determining overall academic performance, formative assessments offer real-time insights into student learning, allowing teachers to adjust their instruction and better support individual needs for continuous improvement. Many people consider ' assessment ' as a test. But, this term is wider than that.

  14. Summative Assessment: A Step-by-Step Guide for Teachers

    Summative assessments provide teachers with valuable information about how well students have mastered the material covered in a course or program. They can help to identify areas where students need more help and can help to guide future instruction. ... Summative assessments have several benefits for both students and teachers. For students ...

  15. Formative vs Summative Assessment

    The goal of summative assessment is to evaluate student learning at the end of an instructional unit by comparing it against some standard or benchmark. Summative assessments are often high stakes, which means that they have a high point value. Examples of summative assessments include: a midterm exam. a final project. a paper. a senior recital.

  16. Formative and Summative Assessment

    Formative and Summative Assessment, by the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) at Iowa State University is licensed under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0. This work, Formative and Summative Assessment, is a derivative of Formative and Summative Assessment developed by the Yale University Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning ...

  17. What Is a Summative Assessment? (Definitions and Benefits)

    Discover what a summative assessment is, examples of how it differs from a formative assessment, and the benefits both can provide for students and teachers. ... a teacher may instruct students to highlight the key points of the day's lesson at the end of each day in a formative assessment. The teacher can review these submissions to see which ...

  18. What is Summative Assessment?

    One of these are summative assessments. Summative assessment is sometimes called assessment of learning and is a formal method to evaluate learning by comparing learning to a standard or benchmark This is typically at the end of a unit, module or time period. Summative assessment often takes the form of a unit or module test. See also Assessment.

  19. Formative, Summative & More Types of Assessments in Education

    St. Paul American School. There are three broad types of assessments: diagnostic, formative, and summative. These take place throughout the learning process, helping students and teachers gauge learning. Within those three broad categories, you'll find other types of assessment, such as ipsative, norm-referenced, and criterion-referenced.

  20. Teachers' Essential Guide to Formative Assessment

    A formative assessment is a teaching practice—a question, an activity, or an assignment—meant to gain information about student learning. It's formative in that it is intentionally done for the purpose of planning or adjusting future instruction and activities. Like we consider our formative years when we draw conclusions about ourselves, a ...

  21. PDF Exploring Summative Assessment and Effects: Primary to Higher ...

    For all of the aforementioned benefits, some disadvantages have to be addressed before considering a summative assessment (Reddy & Reddy, 2019). 1. The primary drawback of a summative assessment is that the learning process can be challenging because it concentrates on output after the exam, in the presence of obstacles or difficulties.

  22. Benefits of Using Summative and Formative Assessments in ESL ...

    1) Teachers and academic managers can use the results of summative assessments to guide their decisions for future curriculum development. 2) Summative assessments can help indicate overall progress and show if moving forward is practical. 3) Use summative assessments to demonstrate if learning has been achieved quantitatively.

  23. Formative assessment

    Formative assessment is an ongoing and integral part of the assessment and planning cycle used by teachers and educators in their everyday practice under the National Quality Standard, Quality Area 1 (Standard 1.3), and the Early Years Learning Framework V2.0.

  24. What is Formative Assessment? Types, Examples & Strategies

    Unlike summative assessments that evaluate overall learning at the end of an instructional period, formative assessments are conducted throughout the learning process. They can take various forms, including quizzes, interactive discussions, and peer reviews, all aimed at gauging understanding and facilitating continuous improvement.

  25. Formative Assessment

    Formative Assessment refers to a variety of methods that educators use to conduct evaluations of student learning, comprehension, academic needs, and educational progress throughout a course or unit. Unlike summative assessments, which evaluate student learning at the end of an instructional period, formative assessments are ongoing and provide continuous feedback that can be used by ...