Assessing Student Learning Online

Defining Assessment

A question often asked by faculty developing an online course for the first time is "How will I know that my online students are learning if I can’t see them?" The short answer is assessment. Crafting an assessment strategy that informs your teaching, fosters learning, and provides ample opportunity for accurate measurement of student learning.

Rather than focus on what you cannot do online, it will be more useful to use the online environment’s strengths to your advantage.

  • Student-Centered Learning: Online students are required to take a more active role in their own learning. As an instructor, you can quickly determine whether or not a student is engaged and meeting the course requirements.
  • Connectedness: By virtue of the fact that students have 24/7 access to their course, you can build in more frequent and ongoing assessments (often called formative evaluations). This type of assessment can be used to provide an early (and ongoing) indicator of how well your students are learning the material.
  • Collaborative and Exploratory Nature: Due to the collaborative and explorative nature of online learning, the types of learning assessments used can be more personalized and authentic in nature; students can engage in real-world learning assessments that provide an opportunity to apply what they learn in their course directly to their work environment.

Building an Assessment Strategy

We recommend more frequent assessments and a variety of assessments in our online courses so that faculty get better and what we consider the more authentic view of a student’s achievement in an online course.

Assessment Types

Formative assessment with Dylan Wiliam

“Formative assessment describes all those processes by which teachers and learners use information about student achievement to make adjustments to students learning to improve their achievement.” —Dylan Wiliam

Rick Wormeli: Formative and Summative Assessment

Summative assessment is actually anticlimactic. It really refers to post-learning, after all is said and done – so it’s a final declaration. —Rick Wormeli

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