Case Studies in Learning and Teaching

Welcome to our webpage on the impact of GenAI on assessment styles in learning and teaching. Here, we will provide a comprehensive understanding of the risks associated with assessment and examples of different assessment styles across various academic disciplines. Through the course of this project, the various project pairings worked on a variety of discipline specific assessment styles. Before detailing individual case studies, this page provides a breakdown these assessment styles, including examples of their application, and associated risks of abuse through generative artificial intelligence.

A common risk across most types of assessment is repeating the same questions. It is recommended that you modify your assessment each year.

Please explore the links below to find specific information you are looking for on this page.

Formative Assessment

Characteristics: Formative assessment is an ongoing, interactive process used to provide feedback and monitor student learning during the instructional process. It is typically not graded and aims to help students understand their strengths and weaknesses.

Methods: Formative assessments can take various forms, including quizzes, class discussions, peer reviews, observations by the teacher, and self-assessment.


  • Feedback: Formative assessments emphasise timely and constructive feedback to guide students' learning.
  • Improvement: They focus on improvement and are used to make instructional adjustments.
  • Low Stakes: Because they are typically not graded, they reduce stress and encourage risk-taking in learning.

Associated Risk of GenAI: While formative assessments are less susceptible to academic misconduct due to their emphasis on feedback and learning improvement, there could still be instances of students using GenAI to generate responses for formative quizzes or discussions. This would undermine the purpose of formative assessment, which is to help students learn.

Example: In a history module, a formative assessment might involve weekly quizzes to check students' understanding of the material. These quizzes are typically low-stakes and are designed to provide feedback for both the students and the lecturer. Formative assessments can include elements like draft essays or presentation outlines. These can help students refine their ideas and receive feedback before completing the final essay or presentation for summative assessment.

Summative Assessment

Characteristics: Summative assessment occurs at the end of an instructional period of a module and is used to evaluate students' overall learning and mastery of specific learning outcomes. It is usually graded and used for accountability purposes.

Methods: Summative assessments commonly include final exams, essays, standardised tests, and projects.


  • Accountability: Summative assessments help determine whether students have met specific learning outcomes.
  • High Stakes: They are often high-stakes assessments and contribute significantly to students' grades.
  • Feedback: While they are not primarily intended for feedback, they can still offer insights into areas where students may need improvement.

Associated Risk of GenAI: There is a higher potential for academic misconduct in summative assessments through the use of GenAI. Students may attempt to use the GenAI to generate complete or partially plagiarised responses for exams, papers, or projects. This would lead to unfair grading and undermine the integrity of the assessment process.

Example: At the end of an English literature module, a summative assessment might consist of a final exam that covers all the topics and texts studied throughout the semester. This exam is graded and contributes significantly to the final course grade. Summative assessments may include a final research paper or a culminating presentation in which students demonstrate their comprehensive understanding of the course material.

Diagnostic Assessment

Characteristics: Diagnostic assessment is used to identify students' prior knowledge, skills, and misconceptions before beginning a new unit or course. It helps educators tailor instruction to students' needs.

Methods: Diagnostic assessments can include pre-tests, concept maps, interviews, or informal discussions.


  • Individualisation: They allow instructors to differentiate instruction based on students' starting points.
  • Curriculum Alignment: Diagnostic assessments ensure that the curriculum aligns with students' readiness levels.
  • Baseline Data: They provide baseline data for measuring growth and improvement

Associated Risk of GenAI: While the primary purpose of diagnostic assessments is to determine students' readiness and inform instruction, there is a limited potential for academic misconduct through the use of GenAI. Students may use it to provide incorrect information on pre-tests or diagnostic quizzes.

Example: In a mathematics course, a diagnostic assessment may begin with a pre-test that assesses students' prior knowledge of algebra concepts. This helps the lecturer identify areas where students need additional support. Diagnostic assessments can include short quizzes or tests focused on fundamental concepts.

Authentic Assessment

Characteristics: Authentic assessment aims to measure students' abilities in real-world contexts and tasks. It emphasises the application of knowledge and skills rather than rote memorization.

Methods: Examples include case studies, simulations, performance tasks, and portfolio assessments.


  • Real-world Relevance: Authentic assessments promote skills that are applicable in real-life situations.
  • Complexity: They often involve complex, open-ended problems or projects.
  • Subjectivity: Scoring can be subjective, requiring clear rubrics and assessment criteria.

Associated Risk of GenAI: The potential for academic misconduct in authentic assessments depends on the task. If the assessment requires students to demonstrate practical skills or creativity, the risk is significantly lower. However, in tasks like written reflections or reports, students could misuse GenAI to generate content that lacks authenticity and originality.

Example: In the fields of Medicine, Nursing, and Pharmacy, assessment is carried out through Objective Structured Clinical Examinations, (OSCEs), where students are assessed in a structured, controlled, clinical environment on diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment planning.


Criterion-Referenced Assessment

Characteristics: In criterion-referenced assessment, students' performance is measured against specific criteria or standards. The focus is on whether students have achieved predefined learning objectives.

Methods: Criterion-referenced assessments involve setting clear criteria or rubrics to evaluate student work.


  • Objective: This type of assessment is objective, as it measures mastery of specific learning outcomes.
  • Accountability: It is often used for accountability in education, ensuring that students meet established standards.
  • Individual Progress: It allows educators to track individual student progress toward objectives.

Associated Risk of GenAI: The potential for academic misconduct using GenAI in criterion-referenced assessments exists if students use it to generate responses that do not align with the established criteria or standards. This can lead to artificially inflated scores.

Example: In a language course, a criterion-referenced assessment might involve an oral examination where students are evaluated based on their pronunciation, vocabulary usage, and grammatical accuracy, using predefined criteria. These assessments can also include essays or presentations in which students are explicitly graded against established criteria related to language proficiency.

Case Studies

School College Webpage Alternative Download
Law College of Business & Law Open Webpage Law Case Study 
Cork University Business School College of Business & Law Open Webpage CUBS Case Study
Philosophy College of Arts, Celtic Studies & Social Science Open Webpage Philosophy Case Study
Applied Psychology College of Arts, Celtic Studies & Social Science Open Webpage Applied Psychology Case Study
Computer Science College of Science, Engineering & Food Science Open Webpage Computer Science Case Study
Physics College of Science, Engineering & Food Science Open Webpage Physics Case Study
Dentistry College of Medicine & Health Open Webpage Dentistry Case Study
Neuroanatomy College of Medicine & Health Open Webpage Neuroanatomy Case Study

Toolkit for the Ethical Use of GenAI in Learning and Teaching

(AI)2ed Project

Toolkit for the Ethical Use of GenAI by Loretta Goff and Tadhg Dennehy, UCC Skills Centre. This work is licensed under Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International ,