Summative Assessment

Evaluating levels of student achievement.

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The importance of summative assessments

Summative assessments gauge student achievement after the completion of learning activities. While many of these are common such as exams, projects and essays, there are a larger variety of ways to measure student learning. For example, activities like research presentations contain both the learning activity as well as the assessment. Regardless, summative assessments occur after the completion of learning activities, they assess student achievement, and they ultimately reflect the impact of course activities.

Using summative assessment in your course

Direct and indirect methods

Direct methods allow students to demonstrate what they know and can do; indirect methods help us to infer what students know and can do. Try to use direct methods over indirect methods.

Direct methods

  • Objective tests
  • Written assignments
  • Performance of authentic tasks
  • Portfolios

Indirect methods

  • Student surveys
  • Course evaluations
  • Grades

For examples of authentic assessments and tasks, see the additional resources.

Types of summative assessment

There are many types of summative assessment. The following are some ideas for ways to assess learning outcomes.

Adapted from Chicago Grass Roots.

Next steps

When you are done choosing or creating summative assessments continue:

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