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Summative Assessment

How do you create meaningful assessments of student learning?

Whether you are testing at the end of a unit or the end of a course, we see many repetitions of traditional testing: midterms, finals, essays, and presentations. These methods work well–especially when higher-order thinking is part of the assessment.  Yet, given a particular learning situation, what assessment is the best match?

Authentic assessment is a term encompassing meaningful, worthwhile, and “real world” tasks.

Here are a few other ideas for summative assessments that might produce authentic tasks for your students:

Collaborative Exams

“Talking during the Test”

“Group Exams and Tests”

Bloom, D. 2009. Collaborative Test Taking: Benefits for Learning and Retention.  College Teaching 57.4

“The results of a two-year study indicate that collaborative testing is a valuable pedagogical strategy that can both assess and enhance student learning. After finishing their first attempt at each exam, students were given a second attempt either working collaboratively in small groups or individually with open books and notes. Collaborative testing consistently produced significantly higher test scores.”


International Journal of ePortfolio (IJeP) includes articles about using e-portfolios in assessment. Articles are available as pdf files.

Case Studies

Problem Based Case Learning:

Teaching with Cases:

Other Examples

By discipline (see the college list):

A new way to assess student learning:

The Economics Network

Better Multiple Choice

Grading with Rubrics  

See our “How-To” paper on Rubrics.

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