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How to Facilitate Assessment in Your Online Course | Ginger Fisher, University of Northern Colorado

We interviewed Associate Professor of the University of Northern Colorado, Ginger Fisher, about bringing assessment into your online course.

How would you recommend a new faculty member get started?

"For assessment, it is important to be sure you have aligned your assessments with your course objectives. You need to be sure you are giving students the tools to reach those objectives and then assess if they have done so.

When creating assessments, using both formative and summative assessments is critical. Formative assessments allow students to test their knowledge in a low-stakes environment and identify where they need to improve. Summative assessments then provide a measure of what the student has learned and if they were able to improve in those areas."

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

"One assessment standard to consider when teaching online is transparency. This means that instructors must clearly communicate the goals and rationale for the various assessments. Clear grading policy is important, but it is also crucial that instructors explain why each assessment is used and how these assessments are beneficial for students. Additionally, the process of creating these explanations for students can also help the instructor determine if the assessment is truly needed.

Another assessment standard to consider is providing valuable feedback. This is especially important in formative assessments, but it is beneficial for summative assessments as well. Feedback allows students to learn from their mistakes and make changes to be more successful. Feedback is even more important in an online class when the connection between the instructor and the student can be more difficult. Providing feedback shows that the instructor values the student's contribution and can encourage increased student engagement."

What specific Connect tools would you recommend using?

"I would recommend the SmartBook® assignments in McGraw Hill Connect® as a formative assessment. These provide an adaptive learning experience for the students and provide automatic feedback for both the student and the instructor.

I would also recommend using the question bank questions to create a summative assessment. In these assignments, I would suggest using filtering the questions by Bloom's level and then only using the higher-order questions. This allows the instructor to get a better sense of students’ ability to do more than memorizing the material and therefore measures their ability to use what they have learned and apply it."

Which tools inside Connect do you use to facilitate your online assessments?

“I would suggest using the Data and Graphing Interactive tools as a summative assessment. These tools require that students comprehend the basic material at a lower Bloom's level before they can truly be successful with the Data and Graphing Interactive tools. Thus, I would suggest using these as a mechanism to measure a student's ability to apply their content knowledge. In an online course, these Data and Graphing Interactives would be an excellent assignment at the end of a chapter or unit so students can see how what they have learned can be applied to real-world situations.”