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How to Facilitate Assessment in Your Online Course | Nahel Awadallah, Nash Community College

We interviewed Nash Community College instructor, Nahel Awadallah, about bringing assessment into your online course.

How would you recommend a new faculty member get started?

"For lectures, start with SmartBook and use the question banks. Initially, the SmartBook assignment is posted for each chapter covered. The assignment is posted two days before the lecture and is due one week after the lecture presentation. It allows students to start reading the chapter before the lecture and to continue reading afterward.

Chapter assessment consisting of level 1 and 2 Bloom’s Level questions is posted after the lecture. It is due one day before the next lecture.

Finally, students take the unit exam covering 2-3 chapters. It is similar to the chapter assessment but is designed to assess for mastery. Higher-order thinking questions, interactive video questions, and case study questions are used to evaluate them. 

For labs, start with Anatomy & Physiology Revealed (APR) and Virtual labs."

1. Assessment and activities depend on the class being a synchronous or asynchronous online course or a traditional course. Virtual Labs are assigned as a pre-lab, a substitute for a lab, or as a post-lab activity to align with each delivery format.
2. APR and Practice Atlas assessments are used as post-lab activities, lab practicals, or as a lab activity for traditional courses.
3. APR dissection activities are added to all the lab reports.

Chapter assessments and APR: Assessment scores are visible as soon they submit the assessment. Detailed feedback becomes available one hour after the submission due date and time. The assessment is not time-restricted. The goal is to allow students to learn the content and prepare them for the unit exam. The chapter assessment is utilized as a learning resource for students to use as a study guide for unit exams. 

Unit exams and final exams have special settings. Feedback is not available until after the exam due date. Exams are 80 questions selected from a pool. It is set for two hours and Tegrity for proctoring is mandatory.  

To address academic dishonesty, I use Tegrity for lecture capture and exam proctoring. It is a screen capture recording software that records students when taking the exam. Students are asked to activate it and present a 360-view of the room and their desks among other restrictions. The computer screen and the student are clearly visible in the video during the time of exam. The video automatically uploads into Connect within 10-15 minutes after submission for the instructor to view.

I also use the analytics/reports in Connect. Connect's performance analytics include an “at risk student” feature. I use it to view the student's chapter assessment grades before I start a new chapter. Connect analytics provide assignment statistics, item analysis, student performance, and category analysis. I approach the “at risk student” during lab time to discuss the questions they missed. It allows for targeted counseling and tutoring in the lab and during office hours. Overall class performance data is used to tailor my lecture and address the most challenging concept that students struggle to understand. The first 15-20 minutes of lecture is designated to address the most missed questions in the chapter assessments and provide follow up resources for students in the LMS. This strategy targets my "C" average students to help them maintain or improve their score. The "C" category students can easily drop one letter grade if neglected.

What are some of the standards you need to keep in mind?

1. A logical, consistent, and uncluttered layout is established. The course is easy to navigate (consistent color scheme and icon layout, related content organized together, self-evident titles).

2. When possible, information is displayed in a linear format instead of as a table.

3. Course offers access to a variety of engaging resources that facilitate communication and collaboration, deliver content, and support participant learning and engagement.

4. The course content and learning activities are directly related and in support of the achievement of the stated learning objectives.

5. Course provides for multiple means of engagement, representation, and action and expression to meet the needs of diverse learners.

6. Any videos or interactive presentations used in the course are either closed captioned or include transcripts.

What specific Connect tools would you recommend using?

"1. SmartBook. As the instructor, I’m able to see where students are struggling in the reports and address.

2. Question test banks. These summative assessments provide the exam and homework outlets in a digital format that corresponds with the content they’ve learned in the textbook.

3. APR. The APR question banks assess what they’ve learned in the virtual dissection tool and from the animations. Within APR, there are even lower stakes questions for practice.

4. Virtual Labs. Upon completion of the lab simulations, I am able to provide post-lab assessments to understand and confirm what they’ve learned from the lab objectives."

How do you instill critical thinking using Connect?

“Interactive videos are integrated in the Connect question bank. I assign these videos as pre-lecture activity or a post-lecture or lab assessment.  At least 10% of my final exam are video questions.”