Making the most of Moodle’s Assignments for formative and summative assessment

October 27, 2021 By Júlia Verdaguer

Moodle’s Assignment activities are easy to set up and offer many possibilities to create unique learning experiences for your students

The Assignment activity in Moodle allows students to submit work for their teachers to grade or assess. The learners’ submissions may be text typed online or uploaded files of any format that the teachers specify. While creating an Assignment is quite straightforward, this activity has several settings that educators can combine to create unique experiences for their learners. 


Moodle Assignment for formative and summative assessment

Because it has so many combinations of configuration, the Assignment activity can be used both for formative assessment and summative evaluation. The table below outlines the goals and characteristics of each type of assessment: 

Differences between formative and summative assessment. The content is described below the image.

In formative assessment the goal is to monitor student learning therefore the assignments should be set to be always available, without necessarily being graded, allowing additional attempts, with no pass grade required (if it is graded). The  activity completion is usually set to “view” or “submit”. An formative assignment such as this often gets a 0% weight in the gradebook. 

In summative assessment, the goal is to evaluate student learning via assessment, thus a summative assignment is usually  set up with clear start, end and cut-off dates. It will be graded, with additional attempts to re-open the assessment set manually. Summative assessments are usually set with a required pass grade and the activity completion linked to requiring a “grade”. Summative assignments often have a weight higher than 20% in the gradebook.


Moodle Assignment submissions

There are many ways to combine submission types and settings in Assignment activity to achieve your teaching and learning goals or simply streamline your class management:

Assignments with no submission required
These are assignments where learners don’t have to submit anything to complete the assessment. While this may sound counterintuitive, this type of Assignment can be used, for instance, for offline assessment -use it as an attendance sheet on a field trip- or for example, to assess a face-to-face speaking Assignment where learners really don’t have anything to submit. 

Assignments with online text submission
With this type of Assignment submissions, learners add their work directly into the Assignment activity using the Atto editor, a rich text editor that allows learners to write text, add images and even record audio or video files. For this and for all other submission types, you can enable an option to allow learners to work in draft versions of their Assignment before sending the final submission.

Assignments with file submission
This type of submission for Assignments requires learners to submit a file -teachers can define its format and size- for teachers to evaluate. To streamline the grading process, teachers can download all submissions at once, including a grading worksheet that displays the user name, email and submission status and allows teachers to add a grade and feedback in comments – and then bulk-upload all assessments back to Moodle, including a separate feedback file for each submission.

Group assignments in Moodle
Collaborative learning is at the heart of Moodle LMS, so Moodle Assignments can easily be set up to be submitted as a group. Teachers can set these Assignments up so that only one of the group members has to submit the file, or make it mandatory for each team member to make the submission. Favourite tip: Our Moodle Academy team recommends combining this type of Assignment with a peer evaluation to know how the experience was for each of the group members.


Grading Moodle Assignments

Moodle Assignments support two main types of grading: simple direct grading and advanced grading. The first group includes grading done through numerical scales, custom scales (for example, stars or words like weak, satisfactory, strong, etc) or no grading at all. Advanced grading methods in Moodle include rubrics and marking guides, and we’ll look at them in more detail:

Moodle Assignment: assessment with marking guides
In this type of grading, the teacher defines a series of criteria and assigns a maximum amount of marking points to each. When assessing learners’ assignments, the teachers provide both a numerical mark and a comment for each of the criteria. For this type of grading, you can make the criteria and maximum marking points available for learners to see – this helps them know what’s expected from them and what they need to cover in their submission. Favourite tip: Use ‘frequently used comments’ to speed up your grading process and to ensure that your grading is consistent.

Moodle Assignment: assessment with rubrics
For grading with rubrics, teachers create a set of criteria with several levels of achievement, all displayed on a table. Sharing the rubric with learners is important, as it lets learners know how they’ll be assessed. For each submission, the rubric will be displayed to teachers, who then can select the level of accomplishment for each of the criteria just by clicking on it, as well as leave written feedback if necessary.

Moodle Assignment: assessment with marking workflow
When you set up a marking workflow for an Assignment, it means that learners’ work can be assessed by several teachers. You can manually design the workflow and define the sequence of states (eg not marked, in marking, marked), as well as allocate marking to another teacher.

This content has been extracted from the Moodle Academy webinar Assessment: exploring Assignments, facilitated by Moodle Education Advisor Anna Krassa. Watch the full webinar on our Moodle Academy site to see 7 real life examples on how you can combine submission types and grading types with availability and different types of feedback to create the right Assignment for your teaching and learning goals.