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Rethinking assessment

Summative, formative and scattered examination

summative assessment sums up a person's overall knowledge at a specific time. In higher education, such an assessment of students' knowledge is often made through an examination of some kind at the end of a course, and then forms the basis for grading.

formative assessment is instead an ongoing assessment that takes place during the learning process. It can be done through various elements of the course, where the students get to practice the skills they need to pass the course. These activities can preferably take the form of elements that aim forward toward the summative examination, where considerations regarding progression through the course controls how they are designed and when they are planned. As a teacher, you can build elements of peer assessment, self-assessment and meta-reflection on the learning in these elements. Wisely designed, these elements give both teachers and students an ongoing picture of the progress of learning. A summative examination will then, at best, be more of a confirmation of what the student has learned, than a stressful element of surprise where the outcome feels uncertain.

Read the guide in Canvas on how to do a Peer review Assignment

Scattered examination 

You can also work with different arrangements of scattered examination, where several smaller examination elements potentially with a very similar structure to formative elements, and that together form the basis you need as a teacher for assessment and grading purposes. Here you can, for example, work with portfolios or with a progression of various test elements aiming towards fulfilment of all the intended learning outcomes to be examined.

There can be a variety of element types (oral, written, practical, video recorded, photo portfolios, etc.) – this has been shown to both counteract cheating and motivate and engage students. In such an arrangement, it is important to clearly communicate to your students which elements are part of the examination and which are formative but not part of the examination, as well as how their various achievements will be weighed together in the final assessment.

A digital context, with a well-functioning learning management system, is particularly suitable for working with an e-portfolio, i.e. a portfolio in digital format, where students upload achievements in the form of various artifacts. It can be written texts (reflections, essays, ledgers, logbooks, peer responses, feedback reflections, etc.), posters, video representations, imagery, and much more, depending on what is relevant in the current course and for the subject/discipline. The digital format makes it more manageable for you as a teacher to keep track of the accumulated achievements than it would have been if everything had been collected in physical form.

In an online procedure, it is possible to work consciously based on the ideas of time-scattered and varied examination to reduce both the incentives for and the concern about cheating and plagiarism in a final examination.

Read more 

Carless, David (2015). Excellence in University Assessment Learning from award-winning practice. Routledge. ISBN 9781138824553;

McLaughlin, T. & Yan,Z. (2017). Diverse delivery methods and strong psychological benefits: A review of online formative assessment. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 33(6), 562-574.

Pedagogical advice theme
digital examination

You and your teacher team are welcome to contact your unit for higher education development: 

AHU - Division for Higher Education Development

CEE -  Centre for Engineering Education

MedCul- Centre for Teaching and Learning at the Faculty of Medicine