Summative Assessments: How Much are My Students Learning?

Written by Jori Marshall
February 5, 2020 • 2 minute read

Assessments are highly valuable tools in higher education. An important aspect of a teachers pedagogical practice is the ability to effectively gather information that will be able to speak to how and what their students are learning. Assessments are not just about how well your students perform but can give you the ability to effectively improve student performance and learning. Honing your skill to effectively assess can be vital to your students overall learning experience in your classroom and can help students effectively organize their learning. The skill of assessing also comes with the knowledge of various styles of evaluating student learning; the main two styles being formative and summative assessments. Assessment of learning corresponds to summative assessment (SA) vs assessment for learning which corresponds to formative assessment (FA).This article will discuss the importance and benefits of being able to effectively assess your students in a summative manner. 

Summative assessments can provide important information about your students overall learning and can give you feedback on the quality of your classroom instruction, specifically coupled with other sources of information and methods of assessment. SA’s can provide you critical information about student progress when judged against your classroom objectives and/or standards and give students the chance to think critically and demonstrate their conceptual understanding of your classroom subject. 

Common forms of SA’s are state mandated tests. However, SA’s can appear in your class as:

  • End of Unit Tests or Projects
  • Course Grades
  • Achievement Tests 
  • Portfolios

Evelyn and Joseph Jenkins of Psychology of classroom learning: An encyclopedia state that, 

“Summative assessments should be created prior to instruction to capture and identify both the content and process of learning that represent the desired outcomes. In this way, summative assessment can serve as a guide for directing the curriculum and instruction.” 

Are you or someone you know finding success with using Summative Assessments? If so, we’d love to hear from you! Email to share your story.

Suggested Educational Technologies:

  • Turnitin
  • Canvas Quizzes
  • Canvas Assignments
  • Portfolium

To learn how to use these technologies effectively in your course, contact Instructional Design to request a consultation.

Contact Instructional Technologies & Training to schedule a training session and access self-guided training materials.


  • Formative and summative assessment (Johnson & Jenkins, 2009, in Psychology of classroom learning: An encyclopedia)
  • Formative and summative assessment in the classroom (Dixson & Worrell, 2016, Theory into Practice)