Accessibility statement

The purposes of assessment

The relationship between formative and summative assessment is at the heart of an assessment for learning approach.

As with programme-level assessment, it is worthwhile to acknowledge the dual function of assessment to drive as well as measure student learning through an ‘assessment for not just of learning’ approach. A well-designed summative assessment can act as a driver for learning by making clear to students what the expectations are and how they should be demonstrated.

Integration with formative activity and assessment along with support and feedback on progress can also provide students with a ‘roadmap’ for how they can meet these expectations and a means of monitoring their progress. In some cases, the learning activities themselves can become a key component of summative assessment (eg through cumulative assessment of contributions to module activities, portfolio development or other forms of assessment which focus on the process of development and/or assess a series of outputs across a module rather than a product at the end).

In most cases, however, formative activity and summative assessment are clearly delineated activities and the goal is to ensure an alignment between the two so that:

  • The activities provide support for students to develop towards the learning outcomes and make it explicit how this is done to drive participation.
  • The method and format of assessment allow for an appropriate judgement as to how well the learning outcomes have been achieved.