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How to Effectively Facilitate Assessment in Your Online Course to Drive Student Engagement

We interviewed College of Western Idaho Associate Professor, Rhonna Krouse, about building student engagement in online Health Professions courses.

How would you recommend a new faculty member get started?

“Driving student engagement is a top priority in online classes. I think all professors feel like they are invaluable to bringing the content to life.  While this is true, there are so many tools at our fingertips that can be used.  The first step is thinking about the big picture and then evaluating your tool kit. Key questions I ask myself are: What will be peer to peer? What will be peer to professor? What will students do on their own? All these modalities in assignments drive engagement, so it is a matter of artfully picking a balance between them so students are being challenged in multiple ways.”

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

“Though teaching is an art, we are all still held to ensuring that the course standards are met, our students are ready for board/certification exams, or have the knowledge necessary to progress to the next step. When I develop a course, I like to map out all the players, so I understand what standards need to be met by my course. The next step is to align what drives engagement with assessments that measure the standards I am working toward.”

What specific Connect tools would you recommend using?

“Here is a list of my favorite Connect activities that students love (and support my learning outcomes).

First, nothing beats SmartBook®! Students are engaged in the material, and learning is dynamic and responsive to their knowledge base. The best part? Students are taught how to study while they study.

Second, the Connect question bank that is associated with each chapter. There are tons of auto-graded questions, including multiple choice, drop and drag, sequencing, etc. Every book is different but there is a lot of variety. This is important for engagement.

Third, adaptive and application-based activities. These are excellent because they are typically videos, simulations, or case studies that the student walks through and completes. These are great for higher level Bloom’s learning that require students to be actively engaged, and it brings the content I love to life! This is so important in an online environment.”

Of the tools mentioned above, which is your favorite?

“If I had to pick one favorite tool out of everything I listed, it would be SmartBook. My students became far more knowledgeable, engaged, and confident in their material. The quality of their work significantly improved and overall, my course had a higher GPA. The best part, I do not have to do anything! All I do is assign it.”