Remote Assessment Recommendations

Focus and Align Assessments

To support your students’ learning experience during extended remote instruction, consider taking the following steps to narrow and focus your assessment strategy.

  • Review your assessments and how they align with course learning outcomes – what you want students to know, be able to do or value by the end of the semester.
  • Select a limited set of assessments that enable your students to demonstrate their knowledge and skills relative to key course content and concepts.
  • Adjust your syllabus to reflect only the essential course activities and assessments, and review these changes with your students.

 

Conduct Regular and Varied Assessments

Providing regular and varied opportunities to evaluate student learning throughout the semester can help you and your students gauge the level and quality of their learning at a distance. The following are three categories of assessment, along with guidance and examples of how to apply them during remote instruction.

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Diagnostic Assessments

Diagnostic assessments are intended to provide you and your students with an understanding of where they are right now in their knowledge and skills. They are usually ungraded and have a feedback component.

WRITING/RESPONSE PROMPTS

Using the Canvas Groups tool, ask your learners to respond in writing or alternative formats to a case study, example, or sample scenario, even before you cover the content or practice together. Collect and review their responses to gauge where the class is, as whole, to determine where the knowledge is already strong, and where, instead, you need to focus your instruction. Avoid grading these responses, unless as part of a larger “participation” grade element.

INFORMAL READING ASSESSMENTS

Ask students to read a brief sample (250-750 words, typically) of professional writing in your field, and then take a quick (10 or fewer items) ungraded reading quiz about the primary lessons or take-aways from the reading. Use the results to identify topics for further discussion.

PRE-TESTS

If you plan to have your students take graded unit tests or quizzes regularly, give them a small, ungraded sample of the same assessments before they begin. Use the Canvas Quiz Question Bank tool and create a quiz with a small number of questions about the unit’s learning outcomes, or share a list of questions similar to, but not identical, to the questions students will encounter on the graded test or quiz. Use their performance on the pre-test to focus their questions and study habits for each unit, and prior to the graded tests.

SURVEYS

Use the Canvas Survey tool or a Google form to create brief check-ins with your students. The shorter, the better, as a survey with just two questions can provide actionable information about your students and their learning. Here are a couple of sample questions:

  1. Respond honestly: how much of the reading are you doing? [100%, 80%, 50%, 10%, none]
  2. What is one thing that is getting in the way of you being able to give your best effort to the course right now?

JOURNALING

Ask students to create a Google Doc for themselves and share it with you. Provide them with a prompt, or just ask them to keep a regular track of their experience shifting to, and being part of, your remote course. Read selectively, especially if you have a large-enrollment course, and use what you discover to adapt and update your course interactions as you go along.

Formative Assessments

Formative assessments are those that measure your students’ progress – beyond their starting point, but before their final understanding and skill-level. These can be graded or not, and usually entail a significant feedback component.

ONLINE DISCUSSIONS

Discussions offer a way for students to share their learning while discovering what other students are learning. You can use discussions to assess student engagement with the course, or as a way to promote critical thinking. You can create a graded discussion in Canvas or manually grade a discussion in Piazza.

PRESENTATIONS

Students can create and record presentations with PowerPoint, or in a Blackboard Collaborate studio that you set up ahead of time, for later viewing. Student presentations can also be conducted live with other students participating via these web conferencing options. As with any synchronous activities, bandwidth use and limitations should be taken into consideration, as some students may not have reliable access to robust internet.

CRITICAL WRITING ASSIGNMENTS

Depending on the length and format of a writing assignment, you can use Canvas Discussion Forums or Quizzes to assess student learning. You can also use the chat function in web conferences as a way for students to respond to short writing assignments. For more formal papers, creating an assignment and grading it using the Canvas SpeedGrader is a recommended way to assess the work and provide feedback.

PEER REVIEW

Canvas offers the option to make any assignment into a peer review activity. Peer review gives students the opportunity to assess their classmates’ work, as well as gain new perspectives on how their classmates approach and solve problems.

QUIZZES

Create regular low-stakes quizzes on content – like reading or content-check quizzes – to help keep students on track and set a baseline for assessing learning. Both short or long-answer questions can be graded in Canvas. Learn more about pedagogical uses of quizzing.

Summative Assessments

Summative assessments measure students’ cumulative understanding and skills in relation to the course learning outcomes. Traditionally, these are evaluative activities designed as course projects, capstone activities, single or group demonstrations, papers, and mid-term and final examinations. These summative assessments provide students with an opportunity to demonstrate higher-order and comprehensive learning. Summative assessments are almost always graded, and feedback often focuses on what to do differently in the future.

GROUP PROJECTS OR PRESENTATIONS

Although it may look and feel a bit different, group projects and presentations can still be conducted remotely. Canvas has an easy way to create groups, which can facilitate students submitting group assignments. Students can create and record presentations with PowerPoint or in a Blackboard Collaborate studio on their own time, and submit for you and/or their peers to review. Student presentations can also be conducted live with other students participating via these web conferencing options. As with any synchronous activities, bandwidth use and limitations should be taken into consideration, as some students may not have reliable access to robust internet.

PAPERS

Depending on the length and format of a writing assignment, you can use Canvas Discussion Forums or Quizzes to assess student learning.  You can also use the chat function in web conferences as a way for students to respond to short writing assignments. For more formal papers, creating an assignment and grading it using the Canvas SpeedGrader is a recommended way to assess the work and provide feedback.

MID-TERM AND FINAL EXAMS

During extended remote instruction, consider breaking up your traditional exams and major projects into smaller pieces. Both short or long-answer questions can be graded in Canvas. You can also:

Promote Academic Integrity: Syllabus, Canvas & Proctoring

There are a number of ways to promote academic honesty and integrity in both in-person and remote learning environments. Here are a few to consider:

 

Address Accommodation and Access

Every student’s ability to demonstrate their learning differs. Accessibility and disability-related accommodations must stay top of mind in any circumstance in order to ensure that all students can fully participate. In circumstances that require an abrupt and/or prolonged shift to remote instruction, instructors will  need to consider students having limited or low internet bandwidth, little familiarity with particular digital tools or learning remotely, or limited access to equipment such as laptops or printers. Assessing students’ situations by offering a quick, one-time or weekly survey (such as this sample survey  in Google Docs) can be helpful to determine what adjustments and accommodations to make. Some examples include providing added flexibility and resource options for students, creating alternative ways for students to demonstrate their learning and prioritizing asynchronous activities.