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Online Teaching

Online Assessment Ideas

Online Assessment Ideas


Assessment is the most significant factor in encouraging and sustaining student success. There are two types of assessment; each serves an important role in the learning process.


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Formative assessment

Formative assessment (Assessment For and As Learning) helps to provide students and instructors with an opportunity to check on understanding, clarify learning targets, re-calibrate, and build for success. This kind of assessment needs to happen minute by minute, throughout lessons and activities; there needs to be a constant going back and forth of checking and rechecking. Formative assessment focuses on providing meaningful feedback and coaching, so students are better able to demonstrate competency in their summative assessments.

Summative Assessment

Summative Assessment (Assessment of Learning) usually comes at the end of a cycle, and it helps students and instructors to measure success against clearly defined parameters. Summative assessment requires educators to establish routines and procedures that promote fairness, reliability, and validity. Summative assessment usually involves evaluation and appraisal in terms of marks or letter grades.

Online facilitation can both enhance and complicate assessment practices.

Online instructors can find themselves asking:

  • How can I be sure that my students are catching on?
  • Can I keep using my old in class exams and assignments?
  • How might I assess in a way that is fair, reliable and valid?
  • How do I prevent academic dishonesty?

Taylor Institute (University of Calgary) has developed some very helpful and thorough resources on online assessment:

Catching on…

How can I be sure that my students are catching on?

Knowing whether your students are learning new skills, content and professional attitudes can be challenging in an online environment. Conducting regular check-ins and providing more opportunities for students to practice and show competency (varied assignments and assessments) will help provide assurance in the work and competencies of your students and give them more confidence. Closely linked to this is the need for timely, focused feedback that helps your students understand where they have grasped the essentials and where they need to re-apply themselves.


Can I keep using my old in-class exams and assignments?

The online environment makes recycling old assignments and exams problematic. This is especially the case when using content recall assessments. Students can easily share tests and specific questions. You might consider building new assessments that require synthesis, application and description.

If it is challenging to re-write or redevelop your assessments, you may need into look into using e-proctoring software or services. For more information on this, please contact the Academic Support Centre.

Being fair…

How might I use assessments in a way that is fair, reliable and valid?

Providing clarity early in the term and throughout the term is essential. Students need to know assessment criteria as well as and when and how assessment will happen. Sharing rubrics and exemplars at the beginning of the assignment or assessment cycle helps.

In addition to this, using a variety of assessments that challenge students to show understanding in different ways also helps provide better evidence of understanding. That said, simply piling on more assignments and assessments may not be fair to your students or to you as an assessor. So coming up with an assessment plan at the beginning of the term and blueprinting the outcomes to the assessment activities is essential.

Preventing dishonesty

How do I prevent academic dishonesty?

Instructors can work to address academic dishonesty through prevention and enforcement. One of the most important ways is in properly preparing students for major assessments. This would include providing sufficient resources and time, tracking student progress, giving students opportunities to rehearse, and providing timely feedback. Students who feel confident and ready are less inclined to cheat. In addition, instructors might consider e-proctoring, randomizing test questions, requiring critical thinking and application, and using multiple iterations of the same assessment (with different questions and challenges).

However, there is no one way to fully prevent academic dishonesty, so it is important to be aware of NorQuests’s policies, procedures and supports so you can deal with situations as they arise in a thoughtful and measured way.