Summative Assessment

Guideline: Utilize summative assessment data for revision of instruction.

Summative assessment, also referred to as assessment of learning, involves “using assessment information for high-stakes, cumulative purposes, such as for grades, promotion, or certification.

Shute, V., & Kim, Y. (2014). Formative and stealth assessment. In J. Spector, M. Merrill, J. Elen & M. Bishop (Eds.), Handbook of Research on Educational Communications and Technology (pp. 311-321). New York: Springer.

Summative assessment refers to the use of performance measures - typically snapshots near the end of instruction - to provide information about individual students' learning and the overall success of classroom approaches…Student work on summative measures informs us as researchers of persistent student difficulties, providing yet another (formative!) tool for feedback as we modify curriculum and classroom methods.

Pollock, S., Pepper, R., Chasteen, S., Perkins, K., Rebello, N.S., Engelhardt, P.V., Singh, C. (2012). Multiple roles of assessment in upper-division physics course reforms. Proceedings of 2011 Physics Education Research Conference, AIP Conf. Proc. 1413, 307-310, doi:10.1063/1.3680056.

Following changes made in a course, “assessment should be given high priority…results of assessments provide valuable feedback, identifying where additional work is needed to achieve the desired learning.

Chasteen, S.V., Perkins, K.K., Beale, P.D., Pollock, S.J., & Wieman, C.E. (2011). A thoughtful approach to instruction: Course transformation for the rest of us. Journal of College Science Teaching, 40(4), 70-76.


Additional references

Biggs, J. & Tang, C. (2011) “Assessing for learning quality: Practice” in Teaching for Quality Learning at University, New York: McGraw-Hill Education.

Diamond, R.M. (2008). Designing and assessing courses and curricula: A practical guide. 3rd edition, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Martin, F., & Dunsworth, Q. (2007). A methodical formative evaluation of computer literacy course: What and how to teach. Journal of Information Technology Education, 6(1), 123-134.

Stanton, K., & Bradley, T. (2013). From course assessment to redesign: A hybrid-vehicle course as a case illustration. European Journal of Engineering Education, 38(6), 687-699.


Examples of Implementation from MIT

For the Kaufman Teaching Certificate Program, MIT’s Teaching and Learning Laboratory (TLL) conducts an end-of-program survey to assess students’ perceptions of their ability to meet the intended learning outcomes for each of the program’s seven sessions. On an annual basis, program instructors review survey results along with students’ performance on session assignments. In this process, instructors utilize data from indirect assessment (students’ impressions of their learning from the survey) as well as direct assessment (students’ actual performance on assignments) to make decisions regarding revision of session content, learning activities, and related assignments.    


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