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How to Facilitate Assessment in Your Online Course | Cheri L. Kittrell, State College of Florida

We interviewed State College of Florida instructor, Cheri L. Kittrell, about bringing assessment into your online course.

How would you recommend a new faculty member get started?

“How do you facilitate assessment in your online psychology course? Assessment is tricky because faculty need to demonstrate that students understand the course concepts, but faculty do not have unlimited time and resources to make such determinations, especially for large classes. In addition, faculty and students have gotten to the point that the word “assessment” has become equivalent to a “multiple-choice test.” Faculty fear online cheating because they worry their assessment method will be compromised, and they will have no way to determine if students are actually learning. In the students’ point of view, exams are so high value that some students are cheating because they are concerned they will not get the grade they need or want if they are not good at test-taking. They often report seeing little educational value to memorizing and regurgitating facts that they feel are likely to be irrelevant or forgotten by the time they begin their careers.

When developing assessment and feedback for an online course, new faculty may wish to consider several areas. To begin, instructors will want to consider the development of meaningful assessments and how they align with learning objectives. This might best be constructed through backward design. Faculty should first determine the knowledge that students should possess at the end of the course or unit and then make decisions regarding items such as: the desired frequency of assessing learners’ mastery of content, the variety of assessments provided to demonstrate different skills or catering to different learning styles, and the chance to design assessments with universal design in mind and to eliminate or reduce timed assessment where appropriate.”

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

“Next, faculty should think about the method by which they will communicate to learners regarding how to take assessments, including the provision of a schedule of assignments, the creation of clear expectations regarding academic integrity and plagiarism, and the clarity of grading policies.

Finally, learners should have an opportunity to assess their own learning throughout the course prior to any high-stakes assessments. I, personally, think that SmartBook®——with its embedded LearnSmart® questions——provides a wonderful way for students to do some of this self-assessment leading up to an assessment and note which learning objectives are providing them with particular trouble. In addition to a variety of formative assessments, it provides learners with access to an up-to-date grade book to be able to check their current progress and provides multiple opportunities for learners to receive descriptive feedback on their learning and the course experience.”

What specific McGraw Hill Connect® tools would you recommend using?

“Using assessments as a learning tool, rather than as ‘“jump-through-the-hoop'” activities can provide faculty with the needed opportunity to evaluate student performance, but also augment the learning experience. These assessments are much more difficult to cheat on as well, as there is no set of answers to copy over, but rather the experience is part of the process. I suggest Quest: Journey Through the Lifespan, a tool inside Connect for Ddevelopmental Ppsychology designed to help students apply the concepts and theories they are learning about in real-life scenarios, as a perfect example of this type of assessment. Students are not only able to demonstrate their knowledge of material, but they are also encountering new content during gameplay. This allows the assessment to provide progress and learning, in and of itself, rather than just rehashing all of the same terms and definitions that they learned in lecture.”