4 Summative Assessment Strategies for Instructional Design


The purpose of assessments is to determine whether or not the learners have achieved the desired level of proficiency of given learning objectives in a module or at the end of the eLearning course.

Summative assessments provide the learners with how well they are doing, in contrast to formative assessments, which identify specific areas that need improvement  DURING the course.

Learn different types of summative assessments  for instructional designers and tips on how to effectively integrate them into an eLearning course.

Written Reports

Detailed written response from the learner is often less easier to replicate compared to objective-based testing. This type of assessment also  assesses the learners’ higher order thinking skills. 


Objective-Based Assessments

Objective-based tests in an eLearning course can consist of:

  • Multiple-choice
  • Matching
  • Completion items

It is important to mention, however, that in eLearning, instructional designers should use objective-based assessments with caution.

This form of testing is much easier for the learners to cheat. In the eLearning & Instructional Design for Beginners Community you will learn some ways that can help prevent some common issues instructional designers face with objective-based assessments online.



Through the use of portfolios, learners can compile important output throughout the eLearning course in an organized format using a website. 

The portfolio can then be assessed at the end of the term.

Learners can also create a portfolio that is comprised of entirely new work that is used to determine their final grade.



An online presentation discusses a specific topic in which the learners often share in a discussion forum. 

The presentation should be expected to show mastery of the given subject, determining whether the learners have mastered the learning objectives.


3 Tips for Using Summative Assessments in eLearning

1. Make the grading rubric available in advance.

Prior to giving the learners their summative assessments, it is important to make sure that they know what is to be covered and how it will be graded.

The learners should be provided with the grading rubric and criteria in advance.

It is the instructor's job to ensure that they understand how each section of the assessment will be analyzed.

2. Use a wide range of assessments.

Every learner has different learning needs and should be provided with a variety of types of materials and activities to learn the content effectively.

Some learners require more interactive assessments, while others might struggle with communication skills, which gives them insignificant strength in report or essay exams.

3. Measure the security on objective-based tests.

Even when tests are not proctored, instructional designers can set deployment features to increase the security of tests.

The first security measure is to hide the test until the release date and make it only available to the learners who have a correct password.

Next, you can limit the time the learners see test items once the test has begun. Typically, 1 minute per multiple-choice item is sufficient for learners who have studied for a test.

To reduce the possibility of the learners getting answers from other learners in the course, you can develop item sets. These sets have items with similar content, but are asked in a different manner or cover a slightly different aspect of the concept.

Try to create test items that require higher-order thinking so that answers are not found on the page of a textbook or in learners’ notes. 

When designing summative assessments, remember to state clearly the expectations for honesty and the consequences of breaking the policies. Learners, designers, instructors, programs, and corporations all benefit from the use of well-designed summative assessments. 

The different types of summative assessments discussed in this blog will enable you to give your eLearning course and instructional design a good evaluation if your learners met the objectives of your course.

But if you want to design the best summative assessment for your learners in your eLearning course and ID, join the eLearning and Instructional Design for Beginners Community.

Start your career in Instructional Design (ID) and eLearning. Build an online course from scratch and finish with mastery.  Whatever you need help with, the community is there to help you master your skills. Interested in joining the community? Click here to get started.


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