Formative assignment designed to feed forward to summative assessment

Submitted by Fiona Kevan: School of Health Sciences, Division of Human Communication, Development & Hearing


The formative assessment of the course unit Adults with Learning Disabilities on the BSc Speech and Language Therapy was revised in order that it relate more clearly and transparently to the expectations of student performance for the final, summative assessment. This was in direct response to student feedback and my own reflection as unit lead (previously the formative assessment bore little relation to the final assessment). It is submitted and feedback provided in a timely manner in order that the feedback received (a mark plus comments) can be used to inform the student’s performance in the summative submission.


This is a final year 20-credit UG course unit (level 6) on a vocational healthcare programme (BSc SLT), which runs for all 12 weeks of semester 1. By this stage students are expected to link theory to practice and to demonstrate sound clinical decision-making, informed by clinical need as well as the best evidence in the literature. This formative assessment is submitted at the end of week 6 and feedback provided by the end of week 8. Students are asked to view two 20-minute video clips of the therapist (myself) in dialogue with a carer (mother of an adult with learning disability) and to complete a table to prioritise next steps in the clinical intervention, justifying their decision-making with (a) reference to clinical need and (b) reference to the literature.

Challenges and Reflections

  1. Students have reported that they love this assignment: they find it interesting, it ‘helps bring the subject matter to life’ and helps them understand what’s expected of them. They can see clearly how it relates to the summative assessment.
  2. The assignment took students longer than anticipated – 4 hours, but we have been clear to indicate that students should take no longer than this.
  3. Time-consuming to mark, but worthwhile since it scaffolds learning so well and easier than marking a 3000-word assignment.
  4. Some students were disappointed that their final mark was lower than their formative mark – need greater clarity as to how much more work is entailed.

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