Refreshing your summative assessments

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Refreshing your summative assessments

Written by JJ Cloutier

For courses and programs which are concluding in December, instructors are beginning to focus on refreshing or finalizing the final summative assessment.  

Here are a few tips to remember:

1. Align assessments with the learning objectives

The final assessment (like other summative assessments) should align with learning objectives, instructional materials, learning activities and course tools to reinforce one another, which ensures learners achieve the planned learning outcomes or objectives and enable learners to be successful on the assessments (QM Higher Education Rubric, Seventh Edition, 2023). “Analyze the course assessments to validate that the method and task(s) allow students to demonstrate the intended level of learning for each learning outcome.” (Centre for Teaching and Learning, Concordia University, n.d.) 


Swine production course

A foundational course in Swine production might require the following: 

  • Explain the swine operations regulations, health and safety, record keeping, and maintenance of barns and barn systems.  
  • Apply and correlate production practices related to stockmanship, pig health care, breeding, farrowing, nursery, and grow and finish stage.
  • Acquire professionalism skills through communication and conflict resolution learning activities.

An example of alternative (non-traditional exams) assessment for understanding (based on Blooms’ taxonomy) in this situation might be: 

  • Create an infographic explaining the role of the swine technician within swine operations.  

An example of alternative (non-traditional exams) assessment for correlate and acquire (based on Blooms’ taxonomy) in this situation might be: 

  • Write an “Analytic memo” to your leader on an animal welfare issue occurring in the pig barn and ask for your leader’s input on the best course of action. 

Note: Cross and Angelo (1993) describe, “The Analytic Memo is basically a simulation exercise. It requires students to write a one- or two-page analysis of a specific problem or issue. The person for whom the memo is being written is usually identified as an employer, a client, or a stakeholder who needs the student’s analysis to inform decision making.” (page 177) 

Kinesiology course

A kinesiology course in promotion and adherence to physical activity might require students to:

  • Recognize and apply the theory and practices that promote the adoption of physical activity and healthy behaviour.  
  • Examine and choose strategies to foster adherence. 

An example assessment that aligns with the learning objectives and course tools might ask them to modify an existing exercise plan to adjust for a provided individual’s constraints, including physical limitations, economic constraints, time limitations and family commitments and justify their decisions. 

2. Scaffold the technology

Technology enabling various tools used in the formative assessment should not be new to the students. Scaffold the technology and allow students a low-stakes formative assessment or no-stakes learning activity for them to learn to navigate the technology as you are testing the knowledge on the topic, not their ability to learn new technologies.  

Think about it like when you get into a rental car or test drive a new vehicle, which is a different make and model of car from what you typically drive. You know how to drive a car but do not know how to adjust the seat, or you have never used a backup camera. Allow your learners to understand how the tools function so you are genuinely assessing if they meet the learning objectives. 

3. Promote learning

Keep the focus on promoting learning and fostering academic integrity not catching cheating. Teachonline’s, January 28, 2022 article, “Assessment of Student Learning – Three Things to Stop, Improve and Start!” presents three ways to improve your assessment and promote learning by switching to assessments which are more: 

  • Project-based and collaborative assignments.  
  • Authentic and activity-based individual assignments. 
  • Use online adaptive assessment tools that are built into learning management systems to help students progress at their own pace toward the learning outcomes or objectives for your course.  


Centre for Teaching and Learning, Concordia University (n.d.). Course Design. 

Cross, K. P., and Angelo, T. A. (1993). Classroom assessment techniques: a handbook for college teachers. Jossey-Bass publishers. by (January 28, 2022). Assessment of Student Learning – Three Things to Stop, Improve and Start! 

Quality Matters. (2023). QM Higher Education Rubric, Seventh Edition. Used under license. All rights reserved. Retrieved from MyQM 

Alternative assessment resources  

Alternative forms of assessment for online teaching by Manitoba Flexible Learning Hub 

Beyond the Exam a collaboration between McMaster University, College Boréal and Brock University 

Designing Online Activities & Assessments by moneill 

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