Combining Summative and Formative Evaluation Using Automated Assessment

John English, Tammy English
Issues in Informing Science and Information Technology  •  Volume 16  •  2019  •  pp. 143-151
Aim/Purpose: Providing both formative and summative assessment that allows students to learn from their mistakes is difficult in large classes. This paper describes an automated assessment system suitable for courses with even 100 or more students.

Background: Assessment is a vital part of any course of study. Ideally students should be given formative assessment with feedback during the course so students and tutors can identify weaknesses and focus on what needs improvement before summative assessment, which results in a grade. This paper describes and automated assessment system that lessens the burden of providing formative assessment in large classes.

Methodology: We used Checkpoint, a web-based automated assessment system, to grade assignments in a number of different computer science courses.

Contribution: The students come from diverse backgrounds, with a wide range of ages, previous qualifications and technical skills, and our approach allows the students to work at their own pace according to their individual needs, submitting their solutions as many times as they wish up to a deadline, using feedback provided by the system to help identify and correct their mistakes before trying again.

Findings: Use of automated assessment allows us to achieve the goals of both summative and formative assessment: we allow students to learn from their mistakes without incurring a penalty, while at the same time awarding them a grade to validate their efforts. The students have an overwhelmingly positive view about our use of automated assessment, and their comments support our views on the assessment process.

Recommendations for Practitioners: Because of the increasing number of students in today’s courses, we recommend using automated assessment wherever possible.
automated assessment, formative and summative evaluation, self-paced learning, feedback, ‘little and often’ assessment
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