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Helpful Strategies and Tips: Self-Assessments

Submitted by on September 25, 2012 – 3:18 pmNo Comment

This post is part of the series Helpful Strategies and Tips: Designing an Online Course, which provides guidance through common challenges instructors face during online course development.

Self-assessments can be used throughout the course to vary the pace of student learning. With self-assessments, students can track their progress to ensure they have mastered the course information. Practice provides students with the opportunity to master course materials before proceeding to the next level of instruction. For example, quizzes in the LMS allow the student to get immediate feedback on their mastery of the content and to continue to the next level. If a student fails to master or understand the information, they can identify difficulties they are experiencing and either ask for help or continue in their practice of the materials.

Self-assessments have the following advantages in an online course:

  • Keeps students tuned into where they are in the learning process
  • Help students pace their learning
  • Serve as a tool for learner reflection
  • Reinforce understandings (another form of built-in redundancy)
  • Actively engage students in the course content
  • Provide instantaneous feedback on their progress

Best Practices When Administering Online Assessments

Students might have difficulty submitting an assessment for several reasons, for example server issues, an internet connection failure, double clicking inside an assessment, hitting the delete key, or using the browser’s back or forward buttons.

The following recommendations help minimize problems or issues that students might encounter with online assessments:

  • Provide a practice test with similar characteristics. Give students a chance to check their computer and browser configurations and Internet connection by providing a practice test similar to the real test they will be taking.
  • Provide ample notice to your students. Inform students how long they will have to complete the test, and include clear instructions for each test you administer.
  • Make the assessment available for a longer period of time. In large classes, make the assessment available for a longer period of time to minimize server overload (i.e., students overwhelming the LMS because they are taking the test in a narrow window).
  • Make any modifications to test questions, such as question wording, point values, and feedback before the test is deployed in a content area. Actual test questions cannot be changed once the assessment has been deployed.
  • Pay attention to Blackboard warnings, such as a warning given when you attempt to modify a test after it has been opened. Blackboard Learn will warn instructors when attempting to make changes to questions, correct answers, and points after an assessment has been deployed. If you proceed with such changes, it will permanently delete all student data associated with those students that have already taken the assessment.
  • Avoid creating lengthy assessments. Break down assessments into a series of smaller exams. Use the Adaptive Release option to allow students to take the next short exam in a series of assessments, sequentially, as they complete each assessment. Keep in mind that large assessments require more server resources when submitting, which can lead to failure in the application when several students attempt to submit their assessment at the same time.

Regarding Quality Matters and Assessments

  • QM 3.1: The types of assessments selected measure the stated learning objectives and are consistent with course activities and resources.
  • QM 3.5: Students have multiple opportunities to measure their own learning progress.

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