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How to Facilitate Assessment in Your Online Course

We interviewed Boise State University instructor, Tracie Lee, about bringing assessment into your online course.

How would you recommend a new faculty member get started?

"Assessments can be formative or summative. Before I used McGraw Hill Connect, I have to admit that I focused more on summative assessments, with an emphasis on high-stakes tests and quizzes. Connect enables me to offer a more balanced approach, with plenty of formative assessments. These are still worth points, but the difference is that these points are within students' control.

For example, students have multiple attempts at Connect homework assignments. I also add a check-my-work option so they can see whether their answer to a problem is correct and make changes before submitting it. I choose problems with guided examples, aka a video walk-through for that problem with different numbers. Once students submitted their attempts, they can see detailed feedback. The problems are also available for practice attempts after the due date. I want to send the signal to students that practice is important, and I want them to succeed.

SmartBook® assignments introduce students to each chapter. These are low stakes, yet 95% of students complete all the SmartBook assignments and earn all the points.

These are two great options in Connect to give students a way of practicing and focused engagement with the material that they'll be assessed on in quizzes and exams. I also align my lecture videos with these assignments, so students are not wondering what they'll be tested on.

I periodically review my lecture videos to make sure that they align with what's being covered in the eBook and therefore Smartbook. Over time, I've noticed a tendency for my content to drift away from alignment with the book, which leaves some learners confused, especially if my terminology differs from the book.

If a high proportion of a student's grade will come from assessments that don't allow students to show their work or thinking processes, for example, multiple-choice questions or fill-in-the-blanks, which is common in our high-enrollment introductory courses, then I also carefully evaluate my test questions to ensure that they are aligned with the homework and any practice problems."

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

"I keep in mind the following "Assignments" standards of the OLC Quality Scorecard Suite when teaching online with Connect:

  • Assignments are directly related to the course/lecture learning objectives.
  • Assignments are meaningful, purposeful, and relevant to learning outcomes
  • Assignments include grading rubrics with clear expectations
  • Instructor provides a variety of assignment types to enable different learner’s opportunities to demonstrate skills.
  • Assignments promote critical thinking and problem solving
  • A schedule of assignments is provided that includes due dates and time frames."

What specific Connect tools would you recommend using?

"My Connect course is deep-linked to my LMS course, so grades flow seamlessly from Connect to Blackboard, and students have a single sign-on in the LMS to access all Connect assignments.

By logging into Connect, faculty, and students have access to performance data beyond what is shown in the Blackboard grade book. The scorecard performance indicates in Connect offer faculty a big picture view at how the class as doing, or we can dive deep into the data, down to individual questions, and learning objective performance.

On my Connect homepage, on the bottom right, there's a Section Performance bar graph that has a bar for every graded assignment with a due date. This is a quick glance at whether the class is in the "green," meaning a high proportion of students completed and did well on each assignment. At the top of my Connect course's home page is a Performance button, which offers multiple ways of drilling down into how the class is doing, down to the individual student level, including the amount of time spent on an assignment.

Students have a dashboard for their individual performance, a visual display of how they're doing in the course, and what areas they need to focus on."

How would I deploy Operations Management videos within Connect and online?

“The Operations Management videos in Connect are a good formative-style, low-stakes assessment. After watching a short video that summarizes an Operations Management topic, students answer true/false and multiple-choice style questions to assess comprehension of the videos.”