Assessment and Measurement: Learn More

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Assessment and Measurement: Learn More

Assessment methods should help you answer the questions, “How do I know the required learning has taken place? What might I need to modify about the course to best support student learning?”

Ms. Janice Florent on assessment and measurement module objectives (0:50)
Ms. Janice Florent video transcript (PDF)

Purpose: The purpose of the Assessment & Measurement module is to teach you about the importance of aligning learning objectives with assessments and to develop a balanced assessment strategy to help your students stay on track and succeed in your course.

The information presented in this topic will assist you in meeting the following objectives:

  • Develop an online course that incorporates eight general standards for quality online teaching.
  • Build an online course in the Brightspace learning management system.
  • Design an online course specifically for the education of XULA students.

  • Design assessments that will measure the achievement of your learning objectives.
  • Develop criteria for evaluating assessments that are clear.
  • Design assessments that are sequenced, varied, and suited to the level of the course.
  • Identify effective ways to construct your Brightspace course such that learners will have multiple opportunities to track their learning progress with timely feedback.

Align Learning Objectives with Assessments

Alignment between assessments and desired learning objectives is foundational if your assessments are to be valid. Just like in a research study where you want to make sure that your research instrument is measuring what you want it to measure, by aligning your assessments to your learning objectives you are making sure you are assessing what you want to assess.

Learning objectives must align with measurable and authentic assessment activities that indicate what students should be able to do upon completion of course learning materials.

Assessment is more than just tests, quizzes and final projects. Truly “informative” assessment helps students measure their progress and helps to guide your instruction.

While it may seem counter-intuitive to design assessments before the materials and activities, it is helpful to think about how you will find out that students have gained the knowledge and skills that you want them to learn as soon as you write the learning objectives. This backwards design helps to keep the learning objectives and student assessments aligned. Many times, learning materials and activities teach or practice more than the specific things we want to assess.

How will you assess?

Alignment between assessments and desired learning objectives is foundational if your assessments are to be valid. Just like in a research study where you want to make sure that your research instrument is measuring what you want it to measure, by aligning your assessments to your learning objectives you are making sure you are assessing what you want to assess.

How will you embed informal and formal assessments for students to demonstrate understanding of major course concepts? Consider including low-stakes assessments that help students self-monitor their progress. Create rubrics, if appropriate, to guide your grading and help students understand in which aspects of the assignment they did well and in which aspects they can improve. Brightspace has a rubric tool that can facilitate grading and displaying graded assignments to students. Keep in mind that assessments can be placed in any part of a module; it doesn't necessarily have to be at the end.

Clear guidelines, frequent and timely feedback, and the ability for students to track their progress will reduce student questions and confusion.

In an online course, it is important for students to get frequent feedback on how they are doing. Are they learning what they are supposed to be learning? Are they achieving the learning outcomes?

The most effective way to ensure that students get the feedback they need to stay on track is through a comprehensive, balanced assessment strategy that includes both formative and summative assessments.


Alternative Assessments for an Online Class

The Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE) at Texas A&M created this short video that examines several alternative forms of assessment that can be easily modified to fit online courses.

Alternative Assessments for an Online Class (3:45)

(Re)Thinking Exams

Research shows that students learn better by applying their knowledge. Refer to this Active Learning Leads to Higher Grades and Fewer Failing Students in Science, Math, and Engineering article in Wired for more information.

Active learning is a great way to both get students engaged and to help them learn. Just because you're teaching behind screens doesn't mean you have to give up on active learning. Research also shows that frequent low-stakes assessment of students is more effective (and less stressful) than infrequent high-stakes testing. Refer to this Less is More: Low-Stakes Assessments and Student Success article by Steven Volk for more information.

In an Inside Higher Ed opinion piece, Eric Loepp challenges us to rethink the premise that multiple-choice questions cannot meet the standards of authentic assessment. He argues that there are cases where higher-order multiple-choice questions can be used for assessment. Refer to his Rethinking Multiple-Choice Tests for Better Learning Assessment opinion piece for more information.

If you want to learn about ways you can challenge your students to demonstrate what they've learned while teaching in an online environment, watch this (Re)Thinking Exams workshop recording. In this workshop, Elizabeth and Jay discussed and demonstrated ways that focused active learning activities can be used in place of more traditional methods of assessment like quizzes and tests.

Proactive Approaches for Academic Integrity in Remote and Online Learning

The sudden shift to remote learning has led to concerns about new opportunities for students to engage in unauthorized shortcuts. A few academic integrity and STEM professionals from the University of Maryland Global Campus, a primarily online institution, share research on academic integrity in online courses, strategies for promoting integrity in remote learning environments, and examples of how content learning is achieved in any setting designed for online education in this workshop recording.

Proactive Approaches for Academic Integrity in Remote and Online Learning (1:04:43)
Proactive Approaches for Academic Integrity video transcript (pdf)

Tests and Quizzes

The Quizzes Tool in Brightspace enables you to create and manage points-measured assessments. As part of your quantifiable assessment procedures, you can use quizzes to help evaluate users' learning progress and learning outcomes. We held two workshops on using the Quizzes Tool in Brightspace. ICYMI, you can watch a recording of the workshops:

There are many ways you can leverage the inherent features within Brightspace to encourage independent work during online exams. In a Faculty Focus article, Dr. Stephanie Smith Budhai suggests 14 simple strategies to use when setting up online exams.

Resources for Assessing Student Learning

Here are a few assessment resources that you may find helpful:

Brightspace Grade Book

When students don’t receive meaningful and timely feedback about their coursework, they are unable to make the necessary adjustments to improve their performance.

The Brightspace Grades Tool is useful for providing students with up-to-date information about their current standing in the course. For instructors, it’s useful for assigning and keeping track of student grades. Students can view grade entries and monitor their progress throughout the course.

Setting Up Your Grade Book

The number one Grade Book challenge I encounter with instructors is that they have not taken the time to setup their Grade Book to accommodate their grading system.

Are you new to working with the Brightspace Grade Book?

If you are not familiar with the Setup Wizard, watch this Back to Basics: Brightspace Grades workshop video. Once you have watched the video, refer to Brightspace Tip #109: Grade Book for additional information on using the Grade Book.

Grading with Rubrics

Brightspace interactive rubrics help instructors:

  • Increase Efficiency - Rubrics are built into the grading workflow. Rubrics click-and-score simplicity saves time.
  • Provide Consistent and Quality Feedback - Rubrics enable instructors to provide consistent evaluation and contextual feedback to students.
  • Promote 21st Century Skills - Rubrics make it easier to assign essay questions, individual and group assignments, and discussion forums as assessment activities, which foster critical thinking and collaboration.

Better Practices for Creating Rubrics

If you are looking for a resource to help you with designing rubrics, try these resources:

Using the Brightspace Rubrics Tool

For more information on using the Brightspace Rubrics Tool, refer to Brightspace Tip #167: Interactive Rubrics.

Time-Saving and Transparent Rubrics Workshop

This workshop was the first of our #LEX Advance sessions. It was designed to help instructors create, publish, and use rubrics in their Brightspace classes.

NOTE: Once you know which assessments you want to use in your course, you need to determine which course tools you will use to accomplish the assessments. For information on course tools that are available in Brightspace, refer to the Course Technology module. For more information on active learning, refer to the Activities and Interaction module.

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