Formative and Summative

 Formative Assessment

Formative assessment is utilized to immediately determine whether students have learned what the instructor intended. This type of assessment is intended to help instructors identify material which needs to be clarified or re-taught and should not be used to evaluate or grade students. Results of formative assessment can assist instructors to ascertain whether curriculum or learning activities need to be modified during a class session or before the next class meets.

Formative assessment includes effective tools for helping to shape learning, and can even bolster students’ abilities to take ownership of their learning when they understand that the goal is to improve learning, not apply final marks (Trumbull and Lash, 2013). It can include students assessing themselves, peers, or even the instructor, through writing, quizzes, conversation, and more.


Summative Assessment

Summative assessment is cumulative in nature and is utilized to determine whether students have met the course goals or student learning outcomes at the end of a course or program. Summative assessment evaluates student learning, knowledge, and proficiency.


Examples of Formative and Summative Assessments



  • In-class discussions
  • Weekly quizzes
  • Homework assignments
  • Surveys
  • Reflective writing assignments
  • Group work


  • Final Presentations
  • Exams
  • Standardized tests
  • Final essays
  • Final Grades
  • Summary report



  1. Angelo, T. A., & Cross, K. P. (1993). Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College Teachers (2nd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  2. Bardes, B. & Denton, J. (2001, June). Using the Grading Process for Departmental and Program Assessment. Paper presented at the American Association for Higher Education Conference; Denver, CO.
  3. Formative and Summative Assessments. (n.d.). Yale Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning. Retrieved from
  4. Trumbull, E., & Lash, A. (2013). Understanding formative assessment: Insights from learning theory and measurement theory. San Francisco: WestEd.