There are few words that provoke as strong of a reaction amongst young and old alike as when an instructor says, “I’m going to test you on that.” However, the way that many students and instructors view assessments is flawed. By identifying these flaws, you can stand to take the stress out of assessments for you and your students.

There are two main types of assessments:

1.    Formative Assessments

The aim of a formative assessment is to monitor student learning. It allows instructors to identify knowledge gaps and amend their teaching accordingly. Formative assessments benefit students because they are able to identify their weaknesses and compensate accordingly. By nature they don’t create pressure or stress for students or instructors as they are merely a way of measuring and communicating understanding.

2.    Summative Assessments

Often taking place at the end of a period of learning or a learning event, summative assessments measure student learning against a specific benchmark. There is often pressure on both students and instructors as the result is generally a pass or fail.

Assessments are a fantastic way of evaluating competency and understanding so we’ve made a list of five principles to remember next time you’re including assessments in your E-Learning course:

1.    Assessments are just another teaching tool.

Regular assessments throughout an extended period of learning act as a diagnostic or problem-shooting measure. To fully utilise this function, it is essential that students understand that the goal is not to appear as if they have learnt and understood. Instead, the assessment is a conversation between student and teacher allowing them to identify areas that need more work and attention.

2.    Summative assessment results should be measured against previously decided and specific learning goals.

By setting specific goals defining what learners should know by the end of a period of learning and seeing how these compare to actual results, it’s possible to begin to identify shortcomings and rectify teaching practice for the next time.

3.    Regular assessments with good feedback ensure learners’ engagement and success.

As the expert in your subject, your job is to connect your learners with the issues and talking points that will fascinate and intrigue them. Regular assessments encourage learners to dig deep and grapple with these issues themselves. By allowing students to take a back seat role in your class, there is a high chance of them becoming complacent and allowing you to do all of the work. Assessments can help to overcome this.

4.    Remind your students that assessments are their best friend.

Learners need to understand that assessments are for their own good and there is therefore no point in hacks, shortcuts or cheating. Learners can attempt to perform and try to make it appear that they know more things than they really do. Last minute cramming for exams rarely equals long term knowledge retention. Typically, the more rushed we are when we take on knowledge is linked to how fast we forget it. By communicating with learners and letting them know that failure is sometimes a good thing, you can change the way they view assessments and learning generally.

5.    Assessments should measure knowledge put into action.

Competency is not the amount of information students have in their heads but how they put that information into practice. By allowing learners to demonstrate their newfound abilities, they will be instilled with a sense of achievement.

What do you think is important when creating assessments for your digital learning campaign? We would love to hear what you think! To read more blogs like this, visit or follow @aurionlearning on Twitter.