The instructor designs and utilizes a variety of formative and summative assessments to help students achieve the course learning objectives.
The instructor includes clear learning outcomes and explains the connection between these outcomes, course content, and assessments;
The instructor uses a variety of assessments appropriate to the objectives;
The instructor includes formative feedback and/or grading rubrics to help students achieve the learning objectives;
The instructor includes opportunities for self-assessment.
Reflection In the pursuit of designing a successful online course, it's essential that students are provided with a diverse range of feedback methodologies that motivate growth. Some methodologies need to happen at the end of a unit and have high stakes consequences, and other methodologies need to happen in a practice-based environment where mistakes are encouraged and where the consequences are minimal. What makes assessment somewhat intimidating is how much influence it can have—in some instances it can completely motivate a student and enable him/her to grow, and in others, if used inefficiently, it can cause students to withdraw or even feel a sense of frustration or anger. This standard, I realize, may be the most difficult part of the work I do. Before choosing the means of assessment I give, I know I first have to design an entire course in such a way so that the objectives align with the assessment. So, with the help of folks like Grant Wiggins and the training I've received on the job, I know that successful assessments first begin with backward design thinking. Typically, when I design a course, I begin with the end in mind. What are the skills that I want my students to demonstrate at the end of the course and how will I get them there? How can I use a scaffold the lessons in such a way so that I am setting the students up for success by the end of the semester? And yes, how do my assessment methodologies connect with a given set of SLOs? Am I clearly pointing out what the goals are of a class, a given unit, or a given assignment? In an online environment, instructors are usually not given the luxury of giving spontaneous real-time feedback because the class operates in an asynchronous environment. This presents another challenge, as I know I need to come up with new ways of giving feedback that work for online learners. Over the years I've tried to use assessment methodologies that are effective but also efficient and time saving, so that I'm not completely overwhelmed or risk burnout. Some of the new tools I've utilized have helped me find a balance between these two goals.
Artifacts Weekly Writing Forums/Posts I am given an opportunity to make formative assessments every week in the student's weekly written forums. As a rule, in a given week I will ask the students to do the reading and to review material that I teach. They are given a week to absorb the material before responding and demonstrating their own skill. In every blackboard writing forum that I give, I give the directions, which point back to the work from the previous week, and I point out how they will be graded. The students are graded on their ability to demonstrate a given skill (whether that be reading comprehension or researching or revising or documenting or quoting, etc) and on reacting to other posts from a classmates. Among the different forums that I have students do, I occassionally ask them to reflect on work that they've previously submitted and do a self assessment. Here's a picture of the directions for one writing forum that includes a self-made rubric.
After I read a student's entry, I have the option of using two kinds of feedback. I click on the rubric feedback options, which contains boilerplate language that gives a further explanation, and I can write in specific feedback. Here's a screen shot that shows what I am describing.
Also, early on in the semester I like to provide students with an example of what an "exceptional" writing post looks like so they have a better idea of what my expectations are. Here's an image of what I share with them.
Facebook Feedback and Class Cafe One of my favorite ways of giving formative feedback is through the use of Facebook because the questions are so specific and the response if timely. Social media bypasses a lot of the lags associated with email or blackboard posts. In the example below, you 'll see a student of mine who wanted to share her research topic with me. You'll see my feedback stressed the importance of finding valid sources if she wanted to move forward with this topic. Thus, in addressing her concerns at the outset, I think I was setting her up for success.
The class cafe is another spot where I can give feedback and make formative assessments. Because everyone can see these posts, I try to limit specific feedback that details exact grading. In this entry, a student was having trouble printing out the readings that I was providing through Scribd. To solve the problem, I decided to just provide the students with the PDFs. Pitfall averted!
Peer Response/Student to Student Interaction Student feedback is another means of formative assessment that I utilize through turnitin. Below is a picture of a student's draft along with written feedback. I develop the questions, and each student has to review two papers and respond to the questions to get full credit. In addition to responding to my questions, student reviewers can include their own separate comments.
Turnitin Feedback The turnitin tools embedded into Blackboard provide me with a wide range of feedback approaches. Apart from its use as a plagiarism prevention tool, I use it for self-created rubrics, boilerplate feedback, typed feedback, and even audio recorded feedback. Below is an image of a students paper that includes some specific summative feedback.
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