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Innovative Assessment Strategies in Higher Education

by  Jones & Bartlett Learning     Jun 1, 2022
1082011364_hubspot_600w250h

The COVID-19 pandemic sent education into a frenzy as instructors tried to continue regular testing processes in an online environment. While helpful when facing unprecedented challenges with few solutions, online proctoring didn’t turn out to be the ideal long-term strategy for many schools due to privacy and other concerns. Other schools had difficulty accessing online proctoring options for students, making it not an option.

Fortunately, there are several alternative innovative assessments in education and some creative ways to assess students' progress. Here are five top assessment techniques to integrate into online classes.

 

1. Use Large Pools of Questions and Shuffle Choices

To help maintain the integrity of assessments and safeguard students' privacy and security, a classic strategy employed in the pre-internet world can be utilized in our digital one. For different assessment activities, instructors can strive to use large pools of questions and then randomly assign a designated number of questions per exam. This ensures all students won’t get the same questions on exams. Additionally, digital tools can be used to automatically shuffle choices, making certain students see different choices for answers.

 

2. Ask Open-Ended and Open-Book Questions

Traditional multiple-choice and true/false questions are valuable ways to assess students, but in an online environment, it can limit choices. Consider integrating open-ended questions, such as essays or fill-in-the-blank questions. Since most students can use their textbooks when being tested remotely, create open-ended questions or permit them to use resource materials as they take their test. Setting time limits or using specified windows of time where the test is open can help increase the integrity of these exam types.  

 

3. Integrate Learning Technologies

Cornell University uses a variety of learning technologies to assist in formative and summative assessments. Examples of tools they utilize include:

  • Canvas, a learning management system that includes several assessment tools, including quizzes, peer assessments, discussions, and assignments.
  • In-Video Quizzes. These tools enable students to immediately test their comprehension of course material presented through instructional videos.
  • Classroom Polling. This approach allows instructors to ask questions in class and receive instantaneous answers from students, either in or outside the classroom.

Other strategies Cornell employs are survey tools and electronic portfolios (e.g., Digication).

 

4. Use Multimedia Projects

Last year, an article published in Chronicle outlines a few unique strategies instructors have used to assess students, including multimedia and artistic approaches. This, of course, won’t work for every type of study but can work quite well in some disciplines. For instance, Johanna Mellis, an assistant professor of world history at Ursinus College, found great results with her 100 and 200-level courses. What Mellis did was assign students to put together creative, end-of-the-semester projects. Students would do traditional research and then “remixed” what they found using a digital tool of their choosing. The idea was to create the project for an audience that wasn’t highly familiar with the content – in other words, designed for the average layman to understand. Tools they were taught to use include StoryMaps, Fakebook, Microsoft Sway, and TimelineJS. Other options could include podcasts, video, digital drawing tools, writing – the possibilities are numerous. Not only does it allow educators an additional way to assess students, but it also gives them a fun way to express themselves and apply concepts they’ve learned to present them in different formats.

 

5. Use Collaborative Testing

Rather than test individuals by themselves, assign pairs or small groups to allow the students to have deeper discussions about the questions and come up with agreeable answers. In this respect, it stimulates conversation about key subject topics, encourages diverse ideas and thought processes, and promotes critical thinking. In the end, students can help each other gain a deeper understanding of the subject matter. The actual test itself can be a group effort, or students can turn to their own answer sheets and select the choice they believe is the right answer. These types of assessment activities not only give instructors insight into student learning and provide students with a unique and potentially fun way for them to view their own progress. 

As we advance in a digital world, educators will need to continue to think outside of the proverbial box to find new assessment techniques to gauge students' progress. Traditional and, in some situations, antiquated assessment approaches won’t necessarily give an accurate snapshot of how students are learning and grasping the materials they are being taught. Alternative, innovative approaches can offer educators better insight and help create a better student experience. 

 

Sources

https://cei.umn.edu/support-services/tutorials/integrated-aligned-course-design-course-design-resources/alternative 

 

 

https://ce.uwex.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/UnproctoredAssessments.pdf

 

https://www.niu.edu/flexteaching/resources/options-for-delivering-exams-via-virtual-instruction.shtm

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Innovative Assessment Strategies in Higher Education

by  Jones & Bartlett Learning     Jun 1, 2022
1082011364_hubspot_600w250h

The COVID-19 pandemic sent education into a frenzy as instructors tried to continue regular testing processes in an online environment. While helpful when facing unprecedented challenges with few solutions, online proctoring didn’t turn out to be the ideal long-term strategy for many schools due to privacy and other concerns. Other schools had difficulty accessing online proctoring options for students, making it not an option.

Fortunately, there are several alternative innovative assessments in education and some creative ways to assess students' progress. Here are five top assessment techniques to integrate into online classes.

 

1. Use Large Pools of Questions and Shuffle Choices

To help maintain the integrity of assessments and safeguard students' privacy and security, a classic strategy employed in the pre-internet world can be utilized in our digital one. For different assessment activities, instructors can strive to use large pools of questions and then randomly assign a designated number of questions per exam. This ensures all students won’t get the same questions on exams. Additionally, digital tools can be used to automatically shuffle choices, making certain students see different choices for answers.

 

2. Ask Open-Ended and Open-Book Questions

Traditional multiple-choice and true/false questions are valuable ways to assess students, but in an online environment, it can limit choices. Consider integrating open-ended questions, such as essays or fill-in-the-blank questions. Since most students can use their textbooks when being tested remotely, create open-ended questions or permit them to use resource materials as they take their test. Setting time limits or using specified windows of time where the test is open can help increase the integrity of these exam types.  

 

3. Integrate Learning Technologies

Cornell University uses a variety of learning technologies to assist in formative and summative assessments. Examples of tools they utilize include:

  • Canvas, a learning management system that includes several assessment tools, including quizzes, peer assessments, discussions, and assignments.
  • In-Video Quizzes. These tools enable students to immediately test their comprehension of course material presented through instructional videos.
  • Classroom Polling. This approach allows instructors to ask questions in class and receive instantaneous answers from students, either in or outside the classroom.

Other strategies Cornell employs are survey tools and electronic portfolios (e.g., Digication).

 

4. Use Multimedia Projects

Last year, an article published in Chronicle outlines a few unique strategies instructors have used to assess students, including multimedia and artistic approaches. This, of course, won’t work for every type of study but can work quite well in some disciplines. For instance, Johanna Mellis, an assistant professor of world history at Ursinus College, found great results with her 100 and 200-level courses. What Mellis did was assign students to put together creative, end-of-the-semester projects. Students would do traditional research and then “remixed” what they found using a digital tool of their choosing. The idea was to create the project for an audience that wasn’t highly familiar with the content – in other words, designed for the average layman to understand. Tools they were taught to use include StoryMaps, Fakebook, Microsoft Sway, and TimelineJS. Other options could include podcasts, video, digital drawing tools, writing – the possibilities are numerous. Not only does it allow educators an additional way to assess students, but it also gives them a fun way to express themselves and apply concepts they’ve learned to present them in different formats.

 

5. Use Collaborative Testing

Rather than test individuals by themselves, assign pairs or small groups to allow the students to have deeper discussions about the questions and come up with agreeable answers. In this respect, it stimulates conversation about key subject topics, encourages diverse ideas and thought processes, and promotes critical thinking. In the end, students can help each other gain a deeper understanding of the subject matter. The actual test itself can be a group effort, or students can turn to their own answer sheets and select the choice they believe is the right answer. These types of assessment activities not only give instructors insight into student learning and provide students with a unique and potentially fun way for them to view their own progress. 

As we advance in a digital world, educators will need to continue to think outside of the proverbial box to find new assessment techniques to gauge students' progress. Traditional and, in some situations, antiquated assessment approaches won’t necessarily give an accurate snapshot of how students are learning and grasping the materials they are being taught. Alternative, innovative approaches can offer educators better insight and help create a better student experience. 

 

Sources

https://cei.umn.edu/support-services/tutorials/integrated-aligned-course-design-course-design-resources/alternative 

 

 

https://ce.uwex.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/UnproctoredAssessments.pdf

 

https://www.niu.edu/flexteaching/resources/options-for-delivering-exams-via-virtual-instruction.shtm

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