Planning Assessments

Effective assessment strategies for online delivery are purposeful and strategic. Testing and assessment methods should not simply be adapted for online learning – they should be constructed and developed with online delivery and execution as the guiding framework. Any assessment in a course, big or small, should be meaningful to learning, effective in checking for understanding, and relevant to real-life application of content to new contexts.


The University of Ottawa compiled survey data from May-June 2021 focusing on student perceptions pertaining to online assessment practices during the COVID-19 pandemic (University of Ottawa, 2021). Amongst the identified themes, several important considerations related to negative impacts on student success emerged:

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When developing assessment strategies, timing, and frequency, it is important to deliberately consider not only the set learning outcomes for the course, but how the assessment will translate into an authentic and meaningful demonstration of learning for students. Authentic assessment provides students the opportunity to develop their knowledge or skills through scaffolded activities and feedback, and the flexibility to demonstrate their learning in a way that is connected to each of them personally.

Equity, Diversity And Inclusion

Removing barriers to successful demonstration of learning is an important part of designing assessments that are equitable. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) outlines requirements to meet the needs of a diverse array of learners, and Universal Design for Learning (UDL) offers ways to make assessments more accessible, and meaningful, for all learners.

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Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)


Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

Global Access

Decolonizing and Indigenizing Assessment Practices

Decolonization vs. Indigenization

Decolonization refers to removing or reducing the colonial biases inherent in our assessment and feedback practices.

Indigenization involves creating space for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis worldviews and ways of knowing when we ask our students to demonstrate what they have learned.

All instructors can work towards including decolonizing and Indigenizing practices into their assessment strategies by considering the following:

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The following resources may assist you:

Vowel, C. (2016). Indigenous writes: A guide to First Nations, Métis & Inuit issues in Canada. Highwater Press.

Preston, J. P. & Claypool, T.R. (2021). Analyzing Assessment Practices for Indigenous Students. Frontiers in Education. Vol 6.

Steinhauer, E., Cardinal, T., Higgins, M., Madden, B., Steinhauer, N., Steinhauer, P., Underwood, M., Wolfe, A., & Cardinal, B. (2020). Thinking with Kihkipiw: Exploring an Indigenous Theory of Assessment and Evaluation for Teacher Education. In S. Cote-Meek, & T. Moeke-Pickering (Eds.), Decolonizing and Indigenizing Education in Canada (pp. 73-90). Canadian Scholars.


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Rethinking Assessment Strategies for Online Learning Copyright © 2022 by Seneca College; Durham College; Algonquin College; and University of Ottawa is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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