Purpose of Assessments in E-learning

Purpose of Assessments in E-learning

Remember the days when you were in school/college and got bored with the tests and exams? The ultimate purpose of assessments in an eLearning course is to reinforce the learning process and assess the knowledge of the learner.

Assessments in eLearning help to evaluate the course effectiveness and it also provides feedback to the learner immediately or after the course and involves the learner actively throughout eLearning.

There are mainly three types of Assessments in eLearning:

  • Preliminary/Pre-diagnostic Assessments
  • Formative Assessments
  • Summative Assessments

Preliminary / Pre-diagnostic Assessments:

The Preliminary or Pre-diagnostic Assessments help to evaluate the learner’s knowledge and skills at the beginning of the course. These assessments do not bear an influence throughout the course; instead they provide an opportunity to the learner to check himself or herself even before the start of the course.

Preliminary Pre-diagnostic Assessments

Formative Assessments:

These assessments appear at every individual section/unit of the course and provide immediate feedback to the learner in the learning process, thus the learners achieve their purpose of learning successfully during the course. These assessments may go hand-in-hand with the learning objective(s) of the course.

Formative assessment is a part of the instructional process and it eliminates learning deficiencies by providing immediate feedback. It doesn’t hold a grading system.

Formative Assessments

Summative Assessments:

These assessments appear at the end of the course and do not provide immediate feedback; they are used to grade the learners. Summative assessments help to assess the learner and even to evaluate the quality of the course.

Summative assessments

Summative assessments2

Summative assessments3

One of the famous Educational researchers, Robert Stake, explains the differences between the Formative and Summative assessments as :

“When the cook tastes the soup, that’s formative.” When the guests taste the soup, that’s summative.”

Components of assessment questions:

  • Question Stem
  • Options
  • Feedback

Question Stem:

The question stem should begin with presenting a problem. All the information that is necessary for a respondent to answer the question should be provided in the stem. It should map with the Learning objectives of the course and it should use the action verbs from Bloom’s Taxonomy.


The possible answer(s)/distractor(s) can be given as options. Here the distractors are nothing but the incorrect answer(s).



Feedback helps to reinforce the learning process; it is the information that comes once the selection was made from the options for the given question.


These assessments make an eLearning course more engaging and reinforce the learning process of the learner. What do you think?

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