Designing Assessment

Assessment and feedback are key parts of the learning process and good assessment design will enhance learning.

There are a number of ways to classify assessments but perhaps most useful is to think about formative and summative assessments.

Formative assessments are designed to guide students in their learning and help them progress in their studies. They provide ongoing feedback to students enabling identification of areas of strength as well as areas for development. Formative assessments often have no, or very few marks, associated with them, enabling students to make mistakes, knowing they will be supported to learn from them via timely and useful feedback.

Examples of formative assessments:

  • Online quiz
  • Draft research proposal for early feedback
  • Mindmap of key points from the topic

Summative assessments are designed to evaluate student learning, usually at the end of a period of study. Summative assessments often have high stakes and are used to test student learning against identified criteria and/or a required standard. As summative assessments often come at the end of a module, there are often no opportunities to immediately act on the feedback so feedback should justify how well the student has done in relation to the criteria as well as providing some feed forward information that the student could apply to future modules.

Examples of summative assessments:

  • Poster presentation
  • Dissertation
  • Group report