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How to Facilitate Assessment in Your Online Course

How would you recommend a new faculty member get started?

“My recommendation is to plan out your course schedule first. Start with the things that you know you want to include (for me it’s the grammar tutorials, LearnSmart® modules, and tests) and then create your other assignments with your learning outcomes in mind. For example, if you notice that your students are really struggling with pronunciation, create a set of assignments that focus on that and weigh it a little more heavily to encourage the more dedicated study and effort. However, be wary of over-assigning manually graded work. While some are definitely necessary and helpful to students, if you can't get feedback to them in a timely manner, they become less useful. It is a balancing act.”

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

"Always plan around your outcome goals. Think about what types of assignments meet those goals and confine your assignments to those. Everything you do should serve a purpose. Students don't like busywork, and you don't always have time to grade it. Be intentional and mindful about what you assign, and try to keep everything as balanced as possible.

Another thing that is really helpful is to have your assignments build on one another. Start with the basics like vocabulary, and introduce more complex and involved topics as you move through the unit. These assignments should recycle the vocabulary and reinforce previous concepts from the same and previous chapters to encourage retention.

Finally, if it is at all possible, offer some low-stakes assignments as review, and format them similarly to your tests. This helps students know how to study for your course and encourages them to dedicate more time to the lower stakes assignments if they know it will benefit them on the higher stakes assignments."

What specific Connect tools would you recommend using?

"This really depends on your content area, learning objectives, and teaching style.

If your biggest goal is reading comprehension, you will find that short answer questions about authentic texts push students to achieve their full potential, but they require more manual grading from you. Again, it is all a balancing act.

One thing I have found immensely helpful in Connect is the option to provide students with recorded feedback. I can usually say what I want and provide verbal scaffolding to students in under a minute, but it takes several minutes to type out what I want them to understand.  Connect has several assignment types that allow for verbal feedback."

How would you use our Recordable Video Chat assignment as an assessment online? 

"I plan to use these in my synchronous classes this fall in the same way I do pair and group work in my traditional face-to-face classroom. I will break them into groups randomly each day, so they have the chance to meet and talk with different classmates. This also allows any heritage/native speakers I have to be "shared" with my first-time learners.

Since the instructor can't participate directly in these, I won't be able to participate directly, but I will be able to review each group and provide feedback to the group and individuals.

I envision these being more effort-based than skill-based. I use class time as practice and encourage students to make mistakes, so they get feedback to allow them to use the words/phrases and grammatical constructions and concepts in the real world without fear. I find the biggest hurdle for most students is fear. If I can create an environment where they break out of that fear and try speaking in the target language, it gets easier for them to use the language outside the classroom."