summative assessments

Summative Assessments in Education

Summative Assessments: How to Make Them Actually Useful

When it comes to summative assessments, how should teachers make use of them in the classroom?

In this article we focus on summative assessments, their connection to learning, and how best to use them in any classroom.

Click here to see how summative assessments are different to formative assessments in education.

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Building Understanding of Assessments In Education

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Assessments provide important feedback on learning, and so lesson plans must include references to them in order to be effective. 

forward-thinking tasks

In understanding at assessments, we look at how assessments are defined, their connection to skills building through proper questions, and how best to use them in any classroom.

The Purpose of Summative Assessments

In this article we look to understand the purpose behind summative assessments.

summative assessment

This will make it easier to see how to use them to bring out the best in students and their abilities.

Once teachers use assessments to understand their students better, then they can begin to introduce  differentiated instruction methods to help students be at their best.

Summative Assessments in the Classroom

With summative assessments, the root word of sum or “total” means that the intent of this assessment is to conclude a students’ overall understanding on a particular chapter or unit of study. 

The most common type of summative assessments are:

  • chapter or unit tests
  • mid-term exams
  • final exams
  • final projects
  • final presentations

These types of assessment are considered formal, and feedback is only offered in certain situations. 

For example, if the teacher decides to offer it to the entire class, or to individual students who seek it out, or to the student who is at  risk of failing the class.

Summative assessments often bring anxiety to students, especially when it comes to time to taking the test. 

Teachers who have worked well with students during the formative assessments may find that the results of the summative assessments are much higher.

So it’s important for teachers to recognize the benefits of formative assessments and in giving regular feed back to their students. 

Summative Assessments In The Online Classroom

The online learning environment makes access easier to finding answers to questions. 

Methods of assessments need to change. This is one struggle online teachers seemed to have little to no control over.

online learning resources

Teachers in the online classroom found they had less control as to what their students are doing while at home.

And so when they ask a question, how can they be sure this question won’t be shared with others through their mobile phones to help get answers to questions?

So then the question remains, how should summative assessments change in the online classroom? 

The answer is to have more open-ended cumulative tasks over traditional test questions such as multiple choice, matching, or fill-in-the-blanks.

Open-ended questions are harder to cheat from than closed-ended questions. 

Some examples of summative tasks that can replace traditional test questions include;

  • presentations
  • writing essays
  • short answers

In the end, if students are going to cheat they will try regardless if it’s in the in-person class or in the online class. 

In order to minimize this from happening in either classroom, teachers need to emphasize to students the consequences for anyone caught cheating before beginning the actual assessments.

One other strategy that works in trying to stop students from cheating during an online assessment is to create the assessment with “how easy is it to cheat” in mind!

Formative vs. Summative Assessments

Effective assessments, whether they be formative or summative in nature, always do one thing, and that is to motivate and inspire students to be the best they can be with their abilities. 

Below we have an infographic showing the main differences between formative and summative assessments.

formative verses summative assessment

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DIFFERENCES BETWEEN ASSESSMENTS INFOGRAPHIC

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Final Thoughts...

Assessments in education help guide policy decisions, and are meant to improve on teaching and learning strategies. There is no one size fits all type of assessment as learners have different preferred styles of learning. 

Summative assessments in education help give the necessary feedback to students when it comes to how well they understood the concepts in the unit.

social emotional learning in class

However, more effective summative assessments cover the varying learning styles students can have.

Summative assessments of this nature may be more complicated than standardized tests, but in the end the benefits of the more open-ended assessments help students develop more divergent thinking.

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