Summative Assessment  

Summative Assessment

Because summative assessments are usually higher-stakes than formative assessments, it is especially important to ensure that the assessment aligns with the goals and expected outcomes of the instruction.

  • Use a Rubric or Table of Specifications – Instructors can use a rubric to lay out expected performance criteria for a range of grades. Rubrics will describe what an ideal assignment looks like, and “summarize” expected performance at the beginning of term, providing students with a trajectory and sense of completion.
  • Design Clear, Effective Questions – If designing essay questions, instructors can ensure that questions meet criteria while allowing students freedom to express their knowledge creatively and in ways that honor how they digested, constructed, or mastered meaning. Instructors can read about ways to design effective multiple choice questions.
  • Assess Comprehensiveness – Effective summative assessments provide an opportunity for students to consider the totality of a course’s content, making broad connections, demonstrating synthesized skills, and exploring deeper concepts that drive or found a course’s ideas and content.
  • Make Parameters Clear – When approaching a final assessment, instructors can ensure that parameters are well defined (length of assessment, depth of response, time and date, grading standards); knowledge assessed relates clearly to content covered in course; and students with disabilities are provided required space and support.
  • Consider Blind Grading – Instructors may wish to know whose work they grade, in order to provide feedback that speaks to a student’s term-long trajectory. If instructors wish to provide truly unbiased summative assessment, they can also consider a variety of blind grading techniques.


  • Group Roles: Maximizing Group Performance. Centre for Teaching Excellence (CTE) teaching tips.
  • Teamwork Skills: Being an Effective Group Member. CTE teaching tips.
  • Making Group Contracts. CTE teaching tips.
  • Moore, C.M. (1987) Group Techniques for Idea Building.Newbury Park: Sage Publications
  • Parker, G. (1998) Teamwork: Action Steps for building powerful teams. Aurora, IL: Successories
  • Shalinsky, W. and S. Snider (1985) Working in Small Groups: How to Do It Better. University of Waterloo: TRACE
  • Wilson, G.L. and M.S. Hanna (1986) Groups in Context: Leadership and Participation in Small Groups. New York, NY: Random House, Inc.


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