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How to Facilitate Assessment in Your Online Course | Laurie Miller, University of Nebraska

We interviewed University of Nebraska instructor, Laurie Miller, about bringing assessment into your online course.

How would you recommend a new faculty member get started?

“When thinking about your assessments, it is important to start with your course and module learning objectives. A great exercise is to fill out a table that lists the learning objective, the learning activities for that objective, and then the assessment for that learning objective. I also like to think about different types of assessments in terms of low, medium, and high stakes. I use a combination of these throughout the semester (I have outlined these below).”

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

"There are many different types of learners, and economics allows us to assess a student’s understanding of a concept in many ways (i.e. graphically, numerically, verbally). I try to make sure to have a mixture of these either within an assessment or across different assessments.

You also really want consider accessibility when creating assessments. I think about this primarily when it comes to videos. You want to make sure students are aware of closed captioning resources. Videos are great for online learning, except when you are hard of hearing. The videos within Connect have closed captioning, but this is also important to keep in mind when we as instructors make our own content.”

What specific Connect tools would you recommend using?

“The Connect tools that I use most for assessment are LearnSmart assignments, exercises, and then multiple-choice exams. In my opinion, LearnSmart assignments represent low stakes assessments, and exercise problem sets that I create within Connect are more medium stakes. I say medium stakes because I take the student’s average score across multiple attempts opposed to taking the student’s highest score. While I generally use a multiple-choice exam format for my high-stakes assessments (and this can be done directly within Connect), Connect also allows for other types of examinations, not just multiple choice.”

Do you have a favorite Connect report that you use and why?

"Favorite two reports: Most Challenging Learning Objectives and At-Risk Student Report

MCLO – I really like pulling this one up with students either before an exam (if they come into office hours for help) or after an exam (when reviewing the exam with a student). Before an exam, the MCLO allows the student (and I) to see what they are struggling with. One of the biggest challenges for students is knowing what they do not know. This report breaks down what LO they think they know and are not answering correctly, along with the LO they are not confident with but are answering correctly.

At-Risk Student Report – This report is helpful especially in an online framework because it identifies the students who are not engaging with the course materials. Engagement is such a struggle in an online class that this report helps take out some of the guessing on the instructor’s part. I use this report to see which students may need a more personalized email or nudge to get back on track with course engagement."