Assessment of Student Learning

Moving a traditional, face-to-face course online can be challenging and it requires a reassessment or "rethinking" of assessment strategies. Translating assessments that worked in the face-to-face course to an online or blended course is not always a one-to-one proposition. Sometimes assessments have to be augmented or adapted, and sometimes entirely new assessment strategies must be embraced instead. It is beneficial to approach moving a face-to-face course online as a new opportunity to re-examine how you assess student learning and perhaps adopt new and different assessment strategies.

Examine Your Overall Assessment Strategy

Any time you plan learning and instruction in a course, start with your course goal(s) and learning objectives. They should guide any instructional decisions. As you re-examine your assessment strategy, consider how you may convert some of your 'high-stakes' assessments to more 'low-stakes' assessments that allow students to check their own knowledge progression. Such low-stakes strategies can be employed more frequently using more informal methods. 

Exams: Traditional, timed proctored exams present several challenges and put some students at a disadvantage. Band-width is a top issue facing many of our students at JSU. For some, staying online for a solid two hours during a test is difficult, as the Internet signal may drop at any moment. Students are also already stressed out due to the pandemic, and high-stakes testing adds to this stress. Rather than using longer, timed exams, consider implementing shorter, more frequent low-stakes quizzes instead. There are certain benefits associated with low-stakes quizzes. Another option is to use open-book tests. Open-book tests allow students to practice more high-order thinking skills. 

Assignments: As an instructor, we believe that all assignments are essential assignments! Dig a bit deeper, however, and we usually have to admit that some assignments or more essential than others. You are the content expert, and you are the one most qualified to determine what is essential and what is not. Are there any assignments that you can break down into smaller components? Are there any assignments that can be turned into activities and assessed with checklists? Most importantly, effective instruction in an online course requires clear instructions and directions, and concise, direct assessment criteria. In short, students should have no question about where to find an assignment, how to complete an assignment, how to submit an assignment, and how they will be assessed on their work. Feel free to use this transparency template to help you design your assignments. Assignment transparency can help all of your students succeed in your online course.

Informal Assessments: Frequent, informal assessments accomplish two goals. One, you, the instructor, are able to track student progress toward course goals more frequently. Two, your students are also able to track their own progress more frequently as well. These informal opportunities allow students to measure their knowledge progression as well. If you are having difficulty thinking of informal activities and assessments, view these examples to help you jump start your creative process.