Assessment is often the one thing students focus on. We suggest you address the assessment decisions for your unit before the activities and resources. This should ensure that your assessments will be strongly linked to the intended learning outcomes, and not just to the 'content' you cover. It should also help you decide what learning activities your students will need in order to pass the assessment.
It is also important to consider what assessments are listed in any official unit guides or handbooks for the unit before you change or modify assessment, as often the handbook entries for assessment are binding for that particular unit until they can be changed through the appropriate curriculum review processes.
To design assessments for online learning, follow the same principles as for face-to-face assessment. These include fairness, relevance, responsiveness to current discipline needs, appropriateness and ability to cater to diverse student cohorts. But also consider how to take advantage of the Web-based platform to:
- provide a wider choice of assessment types for all students - whether they are on- or off-campus
- create a sense of an 'online learning community' with and for the entire student cohort - to keep them interested and engaged in the unit, and to broaden the range of students they can interact with
- provide timely feedback - a key factor in using formative assessment to enhance learning.
Online assessment is so much more than quizzes and online assignment submission. Other options include reflective journals to assess higher order learning, group-based wiki work to assess multiple types of skill and knowledge in one activity, eLive to assess oral presentation skills, and e-portfolios to assess graduate attributes.
The Deakin Assessment (higher education courses) operational policy contains detail on assessment requirements.
- Open your Unit design matrix, which should already contain your intended learning outcomes for the unit. For each ILO, consider what would be an authentic way to assess it, that is, how the student would perform the outcome in a real context, given the kinds of standards and supports available in a real context. You might be able to assess several ILOs in one authentic assessment such as a collaborative problem-based assignment using a wiki.Write a description of the assessment in the 'Assessment' column. You might need more than one assessment to properly assess some ILOs.
- Do any of the DSO technologies lend themselves to providing a platform for the assessment? Consider Desire2Learn discussions, dropboxes, e-portfolios; eLive presentations; wikis; Drupal-based virtual learning environments.
- Can you provide a choice of different types of assessments, to suit students with different preferred learning styles? For example, can you provide a choice of collaborative/individual, text/audio/visual, computer-based/paper based/practical assessments?
- If you can't think of a way to assess some ILOs authentically, consider the type of knowledge or skill each ILO requires and the most appropriate way to assess that type. In terms of DSO technologies, you might consider Desire2Learn quizzes for the lower-order thinking skills. These can work well for formative assessment: you can build in immediate feedback and allow students to re-submit. Complete the Assessments column in the matrix.
- What criteria will you use for each assessment? These should state clearly the evidence that is required to show that the student has achieved the intended learning outcome at the required standard. Write these in the Assessment column of your matrix.(Later you can transfer them to a Desire2Learn rubric to attach to dropboxes, discussions and e-portfolios.
Examples of good practice in online assessment
Using the Desire2Learn instructional design wizard
If you are using the Desire2Learn instructional design wizard:
- Open your unit site and click on Edit site at the top right side of the screen (next to the help link).
- Click on Instructional Design Wizard in the Design menu.
- Click Resume at the bottom of the screen.
- The step to decide on your assessments is Step 2.1: Define and categorize assessment activities aligned to objectives. You will first be asked which type of learning approach you favour: direct or indirect instruction, collaborative or independent learning, or experiment. The wizard presents a variety of assessment methods that are appropriate for the type of intended learning outcomes you have set. If it involves a Desire2Learn assessment tool then the wizard will create a placeholder for that assessment automatically.
- See the Guide to using the Desire2Learn Instructional design wizard for instructions.
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