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Formative Versus Summative Assessments

Formative Versus Summative Assessments

Formative assessments involve a variety of teaching methods to evaluate student comprehension, learning needs, and learning progress throughout a unit or course (Eberly Center, n.d.).  These assessments also help educators find problem areas where students are struggling and either revise their curriculum as a result, or offer additional help when needed.  Typically, formative assessments have a low point value and come in the form of simple tasks.  These simple tasks include one or two sentences summarizing the main points of the lecture, a two- or three-question quiz on a homework assignment, or a proposal submitted months before a research project deadline for early instructor feedback.  Summative assessments evaluate student comprehension at the end of a unit or course.  Unlike formative assessments, summative assessments have a high point value and come in the form of more complex tasks.  These more complex tasks include midterm or final examinations, research projects, dissertations, or high-stakes recitals (Eberly Center, n.d.).  For efficiency purposes, educators have been increasingly turning toward an online training platform for formative and summative evaluations.  A self-grading online training platform allows educators to easily administer assessments to students without the hassle of grading.

An online training platform provides easy administration of formative and summative assessments.

Venn Diagram: Formative vs. Summative Assessments

The long-term use of education platforms for formative and summative assessments has enabled researchers to uncover the benefits of online formative and online summative assessments on student learning outcomes.  Cassady and Gridley (2005) examined the effects of online formative and online summative assessments in a sample of 176 undergraduate students of a Midwestern university.  Results demonstrated that students had lower levels of perceived test threat with online summative assessment.  Compared to in-person summative assessments, which had to be taken at a specific time and place, online summative assessments allowed for considerable flexibility.  Additionally, student learning outcomed with the implementation of online formative assessment (Cassady & Gridley, 2005).  These results show that implementing formative and summative assessments through an online training platform either in an e-learning or blended learning environment would be beneficial to students’ academic growth and development.



Cassady, J. C., & Gridley, B. E. (2005). The effects of online formative and summative assessment on test anxiety and performance. Journal of Technology, Learning, and Assessment, 4, 4–30. Retrieved from

Eberly Center, Carnegie Mellon University. (n.d.). What is the difference between formative and summative assessment? Retrieved from

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