A well-developed course regardless of the delivery method needs a good assessment strategy. When designing assessments there are four questions to consider:
- Are they consistent with course materials and activities?
- Do you provide clear grading criteria?
- Do they allow students with different learning styles to demonstrate their mastery?
- Do they provide opportunities for formative assessment?
The first question focuses on alignment of core components. Do students have what they need in the course to successfully complete the assessment? You would not want to ask students to solve a quadratic equation if the knowledge had not been imparted and the student had not had an opportunity to practice that activity.
The second question requires you to think through how you will assign points for an assessment and then articulate the criteria to students. Clear instructions, and grading rubrics are useful ways to accomplish this.
The third question addresses the diversity of student learning styles. By providing different types of assessments students there is a greater chance students with different learning styles will be able to demonstrate their mastery. For example, those who are visual learners may do better with a multimedia presentation.
Finally, the fourth question asks you to consider whether or not students have had an opportunity to practice accomplishing the learning objectives and received prompt and frequent feedback throughout the course. This can be accomplished through self-graded activities, multiple drafts, or peer-review activities for example.
Asking yourself these four questions will help you develop a better assessment strategy and improve student outcomes.
Palloff, Rena M. and Keith Pratt. 2009. Assessing the Online Learner: Resources and Strategies for Faculty. John Wiley and Sons. San Francisco.
Creating Rubrics: Establishing Standards. Teaching and Learning Center, Temple University: http://www.temple.edu/tlc/resources/handouts/grading/Creating%20Rubrics_Establishing%20Standards.pdf
The Whys and Hows of Assessment. Eberly Center: Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation, Carnegie Mellon: http://www.cmu.edu/teaching/assessment/basics/formative-summative.html
Online Classroom Assessment Techniques. Center for Teaching Excellence, Virginia Commonwealth University: http://www.vcu.edu/cte/resources/OTLRG/06_05_CATs.html