Explore Digitally Supported Assessment Strategies


Photo by Yuri Efremov on Unsplash

Literature suggests three different types of assessment for different pedagogical purposes: initial or diagnostic, final or summative and formative.

  • Initial or diagnostic assessment allows educators to determine the students’ prior knowledge and competences before instruction takes place.
  • Final or summative assessment focuses on educational outcomes. It is used to take decisions on the learner passing or failing an educational offer as well as on possible improvements of the respective programme and the involved teaching processes. High-stake testing typically is summative only and can have a punitive nature for learners as well as teachers and administrators. It may be used by a student for purposes of self-improvement. It also has an ancillary role in allowing course providers to evaluate the efficacy of their instruction.
  • Formative assessment supports teaching and learning. Formative assessment helps students interpret feedback as a means of learning rather than a punishment or reward. There are different methods or techniques used for evaluation and validation of competence development. These include: observation, tests and examinations, interviews, simulation and evidences extracted from work, portfolios, etc.

Within a digital course, two separate strategies for assessment might be considered:

  • Inbuilt: the module itself contain assessment tools and instructions, e.g. in the form of pre-test, on-progress tests, post-tests or assignments, exercises, etc.
  • Community: the assessment takes place between the participants of the course e.g. through peer-assessment, joint projects, forum posts, participation in webinars, etc..


New Approaches to Assessment for a contextual introduction to the topic of assessment (duration 12:22)

Richard Thornton, Deputy Chief Executive of Qualifications at the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA), describes the journey undertaken by NZQA as they move through the transformation from paper based assessment to digital assessment (duration 06:19)

Six concrete strategies for assessment in learning (duration 06:27)


(estimated time to complete the task: 1 hour)

Look at the learning objectives of your course. Decide on appropriate diagnostic, summative and formative assessment strategies. In particular, consider the balance between inbuilt and community assessment strategies. Once you have decided upon assessment strategies, list assessment objectives for each of the above stages. These objectives should test the intended outcomes.

Present your new digital assessment strategy in your own blog or the EduHack Wall.

Additional Resources

  • JISC has produced a manual on Effective Assessment in a Digital Age which is designed for those in further and higher education who provide assessment and feedback for learners in institutional, work-based or distance learning contexts.
  • This toolkit from the New Zealand Ministry of Education gives an excellent overview of the topic, with plenty of examples and success stories.