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Best Practices for Online Teaching & Learning: Module 4 – Assess

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Best Practices for Online Teaching & Learning:  Module 4 – Assess


Module 4: Making the Connection Welcome to Module 4: Assess. This module focuses around the essential question: “How do I know what the students have learned?” Assessment in Online Courses Assessment is really about answering one question
– How do we know that the students know? Good assessment is aligned with course objectives
and provides evidence of how well students have learned what the instructor intended
for them to learn. Effective assessment has the following properties:
It is aligned with course objectives and activities. It is regular and on-going. It is varied. It provides students with useful feedback. Aligning Objectives, Activities, and Assessments Your choice of assessments should be guided
by your learning objectives for the course. Activities and instruction should be designed
to provide students with the necessary means of learning and practicing the knowledge and
skills that you will be assessing. This is sometimes called the Assessment Triangle
(image courtesy of Carnegie Mellon). When all three elements are aligned, it ensures
that your course is “working” as intended. One model that can be helpful in aligning
your objectives, activities, and assessment is “backwards design.” In backwards design, you begin with end in
mind, considering what enduring understandings you want your students to walk away with. To follow a backwards design process, you
start with the assessments and end with the design of instructional activities:
Identify the desired results (outcomes, goals, and objectives, in other words, what you want
students to learn). Identify what would be acceptable evidence
that the students learned what they need to (assessment). Another way of thinking of this is how would
students be able to demonstrate to you that they learned what you set out to teach them? Plan the instruction and learning activities. Backwards design is described further in the
book Understanding by Design by Wiggins and McTighe. You should also consider aligning the type
of assessment with the type of objective you’re looking to measure. Higher order objectives that require students
to analyze or evaluate, for example, require a different type of assessment than those
that ask students to memorize. Regular and Ongoing Assessment There are two types of assessment – formative
and summative. Summative assessment is the type we are all
familiar with. It sums up the students’ performance at a
certain point in the course, whether it be three weeks into the course or at the end. However, the need to monitor student learning
between summative assessments has led to an increase in the use of formative assessment. Formative assessment is used to gather information
about where students might be faltering and using that information to adjust instruction. It does not involve assigning grades. The assignment resources area at the end of
the Learning Guide provides some resources to learn more about formative assessment and
how it can be implemented. Varied Assessment Students vary in the way they prefer to learn
and in their skills, strengths, and weaknesses. Varying the manner in which you assess students
allows them multiple ways to demonstrate their learning to you. For example, some students may have a good
grasp of the course content but may not be good test takers. Providing opportunities other than multiple
choice tests for them to demonstrate what they’ve learned provides you with a much more
accurate picture of what they know. Rubrics and Grading Criteria In addition to providing a good range of assessments,
it is also important to provide substantive grading criteria and clear grading rubrics. Remember that particularly in the online class,
students can only work with what’s been put into the guidelines. They may ask questions, but the instructor
misses the opportunity to really go over the assignment in detail in class. Within the hybrid class, you want to do your
best to reduce class time on such things as explaining assignments where possible since
you have less time than normal to work with. The assignment guideline provides a clear
means of how to plan, develop and deliver a solid assignment while the grading rubric
helps the student understand the expected level of work to attain the grade of his or
her desire. It also provides a clear explanation of where
the student needs work when the assignment is graded and returned. Thee types of supporting materials are essential
for helping the student to best prepare and execute course assignments. Providing Students with Useful Feedback Good assessment is helpful for you and for
the student. In order for assessment to be helpful to the
student, several factors need to be in place: Identify clearly the purpose of the assessment
and what you expect from them in terms of performance. Clearly explain ahead of time the criteria
on which you will evaluate them. Rubrics are great for this. Provide feedback as soon as possible after
the assessment. Relate feedback to the objectives and the
criteria. If this seems overwhelming, remember that
feedback does not have to be individual and labor-intensive in order to be useful. You can save time by using such methods as
providing feedback to an entire group instead of to individuals, by having students self-assess
against a checklist so they are providing their own feedback, or by using peer review. A Few Words about Cheating Cheating is a major concern in any classroom
and becomes even more of a worry for most faculty when they start teaching online. While we will never be able to eliminate it
completely, there are ways of structuring assessments to making cheating more difficult:
Use some means other than tests to assess your students – case studies, papers, projects,
etc. Overall:
Have a clear cheating and plagiarism statement in your syllabus and in each of your assignment
guidelines. Require ongoing participation in discussion
boards. This will allow you to learn each students’
style of writing and thinking so you can compare them to performance on higher stakes assessments. It is also more difficult to cheat on this
type of activity. Make sure you clearly explain what plagiarism
is and what it looks like. Do not presume students know what it is and
is not. To determine if something is plagiarized,
be sure you have substantive proof before addressing the student (turn on “TurnItIn”
for all assignments and discussions). Tests
Assume that all tests are open-book and write questions accordingly (e.g. write questions
that address higher order thinking skills). Put a time limit on tests so students don’t
have time to look up all answers. Create more questions than you need and put
them in a pool. Moodle can randomly pull a defined number
of questions from the pool. This means students won’t have the same test
questions. Randomize question order and answers. Papers and Projects
When assigning topics for papers, have students relate the content to something in their personal
or professional lives. This makes it much more difficult to filch
someone else’s paper or buy one online. Have students turn in projects and papers
at different stages such as outline, draft, etc. Questions Please feel free to post them in Questions
Forum or send me an email: [email protected] Thank you!

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