What do you want from your assignments? Why are you creating them? Why are they important to you? Why are they important to the students? Is it worth your time to grade them? As you think about these questions, use the following items (from Walvoord & Anderson, 1998) as a guide to designing and constructing the assessment instruments for your course.

  • Consider what you want your students to learn; select tests and assignments that both teach and test the learning you value.
  • Construct a course outline that shows the nature and sequence of major tests and assignments.
  • Check that the tests and assignments fit your learning goals and are feasible in terms of workload. Learning outcomes, activities, and evaluations should match.
  • Collaborate with your students to set and achieve goals.
  • Give students explicit directions for their assignments.
  • Teach what you are grading: the assignments you’ve created align with learing outcomes; why shouldn’t you be teaching to that knowledge you’ve identified as important to your students?
  • Keep in mind that all assignments should align with your learning outcomes.

Assessment Tools For Online Courses

Featuring: Tracy Penny-Light (Waterloo), Timothy A. Pychyl (Carleton), Bob Sproule (Waterloo), Anne Trepanier (Carleton), Maureen Connolly (Brock), Richard Nimijean (Carleton), John Michaela (Waterloo), Vincent Kazmierski (Carleton), Bob Burk (Carleton).

Assessment Strategies

Student self-assessment can be an important part of the total evaluation process which allows for a global look at personal growth. Self-assessment can be assigned as a component of any assignment (e.g., group assignments, presentations), at midterm, or at the end of the semester. Palloff and Pratt (1999) suggest asking how well students feel they have met the learning goals, how well they feel they performed overall, and what grade they think they have earned. They provide a helpful list of possible reflection statements for students:

  • What was most and least useful in my learning process?
  • Did I achieve my objectives?
  • What did I learn about my own learning process?
  • How did I change as a learner through my involvement with this course?
  • Will what I have learned through this course apply in other areas of my life?
  • Am I satisfied with the level and quality of my participation?
  • Did I see myself as an active contributing group member in collaborative assignments
  • How would I evaluate my overall performance in this class?

Self and Peer Evaluation

Peer-assessment also provides helpful information and is particularly supportive for courses emphasizing frequent discussion or collaborative work. This form of assessment could be submitted privately to the instructor or used as feedback from each other throughout the course.

Featuring: Timothy A. Pychyl (Carleton), Denise Mohan (Guelph), Giulia Forsythe (Brock), Andrew Barrett (Carleton), Steve Joordens (Toronto), Alison Gibbs (Toronto), Dan Gillis (Guelph), John Michaela (Waterloo).

Creating and Using Grading Rubrics

Grading rubrics, which have many forms, have been around for a long time. In simplest terms, they help you score assignments objectively and consistently. Walvoord & Anderson (1998) describe the components in creating a rubric (see their book, Effective Grading). This video discusses advantages and disadvantages of using rubrics for assessment in online learning environments.

Featuring: Timothy A. Pychyl (Carleton), John Michaela (Waterloo), John Logan (Carleton), Denise Mohan (Guelph), Zopito A. Marini (Brock), Dan Gillis (Guelph), Vincent Kazmierski (Carleton), Steve Joordens (Toronto).

Here is an example discussion post grading rubric where the primary traits identified are based upon Blooms Taxonomy of Knowledge and basic university writing conventions.

Authentic Assessment

Authentic assessment is an attempt to measure what students can do with knowledge and skills in real-world contexts. Students participating in learning activities and assessments that relate closely to real life application master needed skills and gain the ability to see how their learning can be applied to aspects of their future careers. Student performance can be enhanced by implementing assessments that do more than tell us what students know at a given point in time: students should be measured on what they can do and allowed to both reflect and improve upon their work.


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Guide to Teaching with Technology Copyright © 2019 by Centre for Pedagogical Innovation is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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