Feedback and assessment

Assessment is a key factor in learning and competence development. The figure below offers a cross-cutting model on what elements assessment includes and what should be considered in the planning of assessment.

By clicking the + icons in the figure you can read about the element’s role in assessment. On this site, you can find comprehensive information on competence assessment, links to webinars and other materials.

Directing effect of assessment

Assessment of learning has multiple functions and purposes. For example, assessment is used in making the achievement of a specific competence level visible (e.g. summative assessment) or assessment is considered a part of the learning process (formative assessment). Assessment can also be used in the determination of students’ initial level which is called diagnostic assessment. This short video talks about sustainable assessment which emphasises students’ personal assessment competence.

Summative assessment refers to assessment at the end or after the learning process. It literally sums and ends the process. It looks back and describes what was learnt and how the competence objectives of the course were achieved. An exam at the end of courses is one of the most common summative assessment methods. Assessment is made by the teacher or another leader of the learning process. Summative assessment has its place and role in the supervision of students’ learning process, making of students’ learning visible and description of the teacher’s work results. It may be worth considering if summative assessment alone supports learning and teaching most appropriately.

Formative assessment is described as an interactive assessment method of students’ learning and teachers’ work. It refers to assessment during the learning process which enables up-to-date information for students on their learning in relation to the competence objectives. Assessment during the learning process also offers teachers more detailed information on competence development and the need for adjustments to teaching. In addition to teachers’ assessment, formative assessment can be supported during the learning process by self-assessment and peer review.

Diagnostic assessment is used when the aim is to better understand students’ initial knowledge and skills in relation to the set objectives. Pre-collected information supports teachers’ understanding of students’ initial level and helps teachers in planning to teach. The diagnostic assessment also helps students to recall their topic-related competence.

When using any assessment, it is important to create clear assessment criteria, especially if the assessment is used in grading. Carefully articulated assessment criteria aim at harmonising learning and competence assessment and increasing transparency and predictability of learning and competence assessment as well as students’ equal treatment. Joint assessment criteria also offer students a tool to identify and describe their competence and set objectives for their studies.


Feedback provision is important in the assessment of studies. When students’ competence is assessed, feedback helps to understand which factors affected the grade or assessment, support students’ ability to reflect on their learning process and practices and support reflection on their competence development in relation to competence objectives. Feedback should be connected to pre-defined competence objectives and assessment criteria of courses and study modules.

Assessment and feedback are often considered something that students are informed of at the end of the course. Students may complete different exercises and tests during the course but students only receive related assessments and feedback at the end of the course. In order to understand their academic success and competence development, students should already receive feedback during the journey. The primary purpose of feedback provision is to affect students’ learning process by correcting, redirecting and encouraging learning. Students need an understanding of their competence level: what they master and what should be developed and how. It is also good to explain to students in detail how course materials support their competence development and completion of learning assignments.

In the best-case scenario, teachers give all students personal feedback on their achievements. It is however not usually possible to give personal feedback to a large number of students. In this case, it is possible to use peer feedback or joint feedback for all students. If peer feedback is used, it is important to instruct students in detail. Students also have to be told in advance how peer feedback affects course assessment and if peer feedback affects the feedback receiver’s and possibly also its provider’s assessment.

Planning of study mode and assessment

Planning of assessment is based on clarification of and focus on the course, study module and degree competence objectives. It is important to plan competence objectives and assessments simultaneously as far as possible. In the planning of assessment, it is good to consider how students can bring forward their competence and how competence can be assessed. If an examination is used as an assessment method, what competence can be verified through the examination and what sort of an examination supports the achievement of competence objectives. It is also good to consider if the achievement of competence objectives requires several different assessment methods, such as self-assessment.

The study mode has to be chosen in such a way that it supports the achievement of competence objectives as well as possible. Learning of the study mode may also be one of the competence objectives. For example, if the course is completed with an extensive essay, it is a possibility for students to learn the essay structure, objectives and academic conventions, such as marking references.

Read more in Digimentors’ tip bank:  link

Learning analytics and pedagogical design

Assessment may also partly be based on the use of learning analytics possibilities. It does however not remove the meaning of and need for supervision during the studies. At their best, analysis and visualisation of students’ digital tracks can be used to offer well-timed feedback and support the achievement of objectives and development of professional identity (Kleimola & Leppisaari 2020).

Learning analytics data can be collected for example through online learning environments. Attention is paid to the building of data points on online courses. Learning deeds make visible students’ work and learning. (Hartikainen & Teräs 2020.) The aim is to analyse real learning instead of performances. TAMK Education Development Services’ Moodle studies also include online course construction from the viewpoint of assessment and analytics. Read more about Moodle studies on the intranet.

The teaching analytics term instead of learning analytics (Sergis & Sampson 2017) emphasises teachers’ pedagogical skills and the important role of supervision alongside assessment. The viewpoint of information collection and analysis focuses on teachers’ work: development of the curriculum, learning materials and supervision. (see Vainio 2018).

More information for staff

Assessment criteria lock

Guidelines for student assessment lock

Elsewhere in TLC

Curriculum work

Links checked 14.3.2022