Category: Assessment & Feedback

OSCQR – Standard #50

OSCQR – Standard #50

Course includes the opportunity for learners to provide descriptive feedback on their experience in the online course, the course design, content, user experience, and technology.

Review These Explanations

Online learners have first hand experience in online learning environments as learners and users of the online learning technologies. They are immersed within the online experience, and can provide useful feedback on their experiences with the online course design and delivery. This feedback can be used to guide continuous improvements to the course design and delivery practices, and improve the efficacy of the online teaching and learning process. Providing a channel for feedback, and encouraging dialogue among learners, can lead to the improvement of ideas and opinions (Mabrito & Medley, 2008).

Learners may find navigation difficult, or content lacking, which can get in the way of successful course completion. Creating mechanisms for learners to  provide feedback to the instructor and/or course designer on navigation, access, and the overall learning experience, can guide improvements to support learner success while the course is in progress, as well as at the end of the course.

In addition, if new technologies, LMS features, or pedagogical approaches are incorporated into the learning environment, learners need a way to report or explain any issue that arise, offer their insights and suggestions, and share solutions that they may have found that can be shared with their classmates.

Independent from end-of-course surveys, providing channels to collect learner feedback on the online learning experience empowers the learner to have a stake in making the experience better for themselves, as well as for other learners in the future. These channels also enhance group cohesion by exemplifying how instructors value the opinions of their learners.

References:

Mabrito, M. & Medley, R. (2008). Why Professor Johnny can’t read: Understanding the net generation’s texts. Innovate: Journal of Online Education, 4(6).

Refresh Your Course with These Ideas

General Suggestions

  • Develop metacognitive learning activities that ask learners to reflect and express what they are learning, how they know they are learning, and what is helping or hindering their learning using a journal, blog, etc.
  • Set up an online forum-based Suggestion Box to collect informal feedback.
  • Distribute a survey, or poll to collect descriptive feedback from learners at mid-term and again the end of the course term.
  • Ask learners to share three things that they like about the course, and three things that are not working well for them after a few weeks into the course. Repeat this activity at mid-term, and again at the end of the course term.
    • Consider making a minor change/adjustment in the course design or deliver based on learner feedback during the course to demonstrate that responsiveness to learner feedback and experiences.
  • Include a discussion forum to collect feedback at the end of a learning activity, and require learner participation as part of the overall activity grade.
  • Invite learners to participate in the full course review process.
  • Have learners develop course experience feedback as groups, and submit anonymously.
  • Invite learners to specifically share what they would like other learners to do in order to engage the course as a group.
  • Ask learners specific questions, such as what has helped them learn in the course, and what has hindered their learning process and progress.

Examples

    1. What did you like best about this course?
    2. Did any of the technologies used help or hinder your learning experience? How so?
    3. What specific things do you think could be improved in the structure or design of the course and learning activities?
    4. How would you improve the quality and participation in course discussions/interactions?
    5. What changes would you suggest be made to the pacing or sequence of the content and activities for this course? (e.g., Were the due dates manageable for you? Were the course materials sequenced well?)
    6. What changes would you suggest be made to the quantity of work required for this course?
    7. How could the course be improved in terms of my(the instructor’s) interaction, participation, and management of the course?
    8. What other suggestions, comments, or recommendations would you have for the instructor?
  • Create a Feedback Journal – Consider adding a “descriptive feedback/metacognitive journaling” section to the course to elicit feedback from students useful for improving pedagogical style, (based on Rodgers, 2006). Questions might include:
    1. What did you learn? Really think about what it means to have learned something.
    2. Can you say more? Can you give me an example?
    3. How do you know you learned it?
    4. What helped your learning? What would have helped your learning more?
    5. What hindered your learning?
    6. How did you feel?

Rodgers, C. R. (2006). Attending to student voice: the impact of descriptive feedback on learning and teaching. Curriculum Inquiry, 36(2), 209-237.

  • Conduct a How’s it going? survey after the first couple of weeks, review responses, and select one thing to improve (not a major course design change).
  • End of course, How did it go? Survey. Continuous improvement of course design or delivery is identified and address.
  • Example MidTerm Group Discussion Forum to Collect Learner Feedback

We’re in the middle of our semester. I am interested in your experience and your feedback

  • How is it going?
  • Are you progressing at the pace at which you thought you would progress?
  • Are you happy with how much time and effort you are putting into learning?
  • Do you know where to find your grades? Are you happy with your grades? Do you know why you are getting the grades you are getting? Do you know what to do to continue getting good grades or what to do to improve your grades?
  • What do you need help with?
  • What are you unclear about?

Please respond to these questions to let me know where you are in your learning, I’ll try to do my best to help you out. If you don’t feel comfortable sharing your situation here, you can send me a private message. A response to this discussion is required, but not graded.

Explore More Refreshing Ideas from the Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository (TOPR) at the University of Central Florida (UCF)

This Pedagogical Practice from TOPR explores methods and approaches to collecting learner feedback to inform the design and delivery of higher quality online courses.

Collect Student Feedback using Course Evaluations
This semester, I used the anonymous survey twice in my course (V-mode) and you can get fairly good response rates (27/33 = 81%) to get a feel of how the course has been perceived up to that point. You can also add short comments portion, to which students in distant learning setting would surprisingly type up something to express their opinion. (Read more …)

Explore Related Resources

Li, N., Marsh, V., & Rienties, B. (2016). Modelling and Managing Learner Satisfaction: Use of Learner Feedback to Enhance Blended and Online Learning Experience. Decision Sciences Journal of Innovative Education, 14(2), 216-242.
Thelk, A. D. (2014). Building a Better Course-Evaluation Process. Assessment Update, 26(2), 6-7.

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OSCQR has been developed by a community of online practitioners interested in quality course design. There are numerous opportunities for community members to offer suggestions, donate resources, and help with future development.

Discuss this standard in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

Contribute your own ideas or refresh resources by filling out the OSCQR Examples Contribution Form.

OSCQR – Standard #49

OSCQR – Standard #49

Learners have easy access to a well-designed and up-to-date gradebook.

Review These Explanations

Learners need feedback and guidance to stay on track, especially in online courses. Having a course gradebook that is easy to navigate provides learners with the guidance they need in order to determine and follow a pathway in their online courses (Schaffhauser, 2016).

Online gradebooks provide instructors with the opportunity to automate, customize, and share grades and feedback with learners. Setting up the gradebook with the LMS should be a core competency of any instructor teaching online, as keeping learners on track and informed will promote success and motivation in the online space.

By providing easy access to an up-to-date gradebook, instructors give learners the ability to check in on their progress continuously throughout the course term. The added functionality and reporting features enable faculty to review and analyze the gradebook, as well as create reports on learner progress and course completion.

Learners will also benefit by seeing what assignments and other graded activities they have not yet turned in.

References:

Schaffhauser, D. (2016). How Data from Your LMS Can Impact Student Success. Distance Education Report, 20(1), 4.

Refresh Your Course with These Ideas

General Ideas

  • Provide a direct link to the gradebook within the Course Information Documents Area.
  • Create a short video overview of how to access and navigate the gradebook for your learners.
  • Use short titles/headings for assignments to maximize the column vies in the LMS gradebook.
  • Request a gradebook tutorial from your campus LMS, instructional design, or IT representatives.
  • Encourage learners to check the gradebook after every assignment has been graded to be sure that they can access their grades and any associated feedback.

Explore Related Resources

General Suggestion

Share What You Know

OSCQR has been developed by a community of online practitioners interested in quality course design. There are numerous opportunities for community members to offer suggestions, donate resources, and help with future development.

Discuss this standard in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

Contribute your own ideas or refresh resources by filling out the OSCQR Examples Contribution Form.

OSCQR – Standard #48

OSCQR – Standard #48

Learners are informed when a timed response is required. Proper lead time is provided to ensure there is an opportunity to prepare an accommodation.

Review These Explanations

All learners need clear guidance on when learning activities and assignments are due, and what they need to do in order to meet those deadlines. Providing guidance on when timed responses are required enables learners to anticipate workload and be better organized.

Instructors benefit from promoting effective time management strategies for learners. In addition to providing information on when timed responses are required, instructors can explain the importance of respecting set deadlines, and the courtesy of timeliness.

If learners are expected to post to discussion forums by a specific day/date and time, that information needs to be clearly detailed in all discussion forum descriptions and overviews.

Understanding learners who need more time for accommodations or extraneous circumstances is critical to promoting learner success in online courses. Some learners may require more time to complete timed exams, or read and post to discussion forums.

Refresh Your Course with These Ideas

General Suggestions

  • Create a downloadable/printable weekly checklist with details on what is due each day of the week during each course module.
  • Set up an automated email that reminds learners at least one day in advance that they need to respond or take action in the course by a specific date/time.
  • Create a link to the course messaging area that is prominently displayed on assignment or activity pages that require timed responses. From there, learners can send a message quickly to inform you if they are going to miss a deadline.
  • Highlight specific days/dates and times in module overviews or weekly announcements that remind learners to respond or post on time.

Explore Related Resources

Patterson Lorenzetti, J. (2013). What We Can Learn from Students Who Leave Online Courses. Recruitment & Retention in Higher Education, 27(7), 8-7.
Zimmerman, W. A., & Kulikowich, J. M. (2016). Online Learning Self-Efficacy in Students With and Without Online Learning Experience. American Journal of Distance Education, 30(3), 180-191.

Share What You Know

OSCQR has been developed by a community of online practitioners interested in quality course design. There are numerous opportunities for community members to offer suggestions, donate resources, and help with future development.

Discuss this standard in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

Contribute your own ideas or refresh resources by filling out the OSCQR Examples Contribution Form.

OSCQR – Standard #47RSI Dashboard illustration

OSCQR – Standard #47RSI Dashboard illustration

Course provides opportunities for learners to review their performance and assess their own learning throughout the course (via pre-tests, self-tests with feedback, reflective assignments, peer assessment, etc.).

Review These Explanations

Pre-tests allow a learner to better understand what they already know and where they have more to learn. It provides information on prior knowledge and gaps in knowledge or understanding that can help the learner more effectively and efficiently focus their learning effort.

Self-assessment involves the reviewing one’s own work, determining what is good, and detailing what needs improvement. It is a multi-faceted method of determining learner mastery, by asking learners to explore their own work, and determine a level of performance or mastery.

Self-assessment and reflective assignments play a role in learner self-efficacy and self-regulation, fosters learners’ abilities to construct meaning, and promotes metacognition. By asking learners to check their skill mastery levels, or reflect on their own work and learning, they learn to examine their own reasoning and decision making process, and understand better what helps or hinders their learning (Cukusic et al, 2014).

Peer-assessment give learners the opportunity to look at the work of others, and apply evaluation criteria to it. This not only provides feedback to the learner who is being peer-assessed, but provides the learner doing the assessing with the opportunity to understand and apply evaluation criteria on work that is not their own. This affords the experience of understanding the application of assignment evaluation criteria in an objective context that can they can then apply to their own work.

References:

Cukusic, M., Garaca, Z., & Jadric, M. (2014). Online self-assessment and students’ success in higher education institutions. Computers & Education, 72, 100-109.

Regular and Substantive Interaction (RSI)

How This Standard Supports RSI

RSI Dashboard illustrationThis standard can support regular and substantive interaction by providing explicit instructions and expectations, rubrics, models/examples, opportunities for peer evaluation and self assessment, and details on how course assignments will be evaluated, and how feedback will be provided. In online courses, pre-tests, self-assessments, reflective assignments, and peer-assessments provide learners with opportunities to check to see how they are progressing, and can offer learners the opportunity to ask for help, clarification, or review or explore additional course materials necessary to master course concepts, or skills. Directing learners to ask questions and interact with the instructor about their understanding of course materials and concepts, and about course assessments, such as in an online discussion forum, further supports RSI, and is a good general practice. Scheduling specific instructor-facilitated discussion in groups, or in private Office Hours with individuals, to discuss course content, activities, assignment feedback, provide help, answer questions, and/or get guidance and clarification demonstrates compliance with RSI.

Refresh Your Course with These Ideas

General Suggestions

  • Leverage the features and functionality in LMS testing tools to incorporate rich incorrect answer feedback in pre-tests, self-tests and tests,  enhances the learners ability and opportunity to self-correct, and be directed to look further into specific course content, materials, to clarify understanding.
  • Have learners develop a Personal Goals (or Learning Contract) statement for the course, and reflect on how they are meeting those goals at midterm and end of course.
  • Include a non-graded Test Your Knowledge quiz at the beginning of each module that learners can use to assess their prior knowledge to help guide and focus their learning efforts.
  • Include a non-graded Test Your Knowledge quiz at the end of each module that learners need to score a specific grade on (80% or higher) before they can move on.
  • Provide clear guidance on what learners should provide in any reflective exercise, including writing style samples, questions/prompts to consider in their reflections, and objectives that they should be taking into consideration.
    • For example, a Metacognitive Journaling activity can ask students to reflect on what is helping or hindering their learning, what they are learning and how they know they have learned. Coupled with instructor feedback or self assessment and/or peer review can help learners better understand their own learning and progress in the course. This can support learner sense of self-efficacy and scaffold learner self-regulation.
    • Online journals or blogs can be incorporated into online course activities for learners to post reflections on their learning within each module.
  • Ask learners to rate their own participation in the discussion forum, considering questions related to what they contributed, as well as what they chose not to contribute.
  • Explore ePortfolio options. If available, use ePortfolio tools, and have learners post all course work and related reflections there, so they will have access to it beyond the end of the term/course/program.

Examples

  • Scenario-based discussion of course rubrics – students are given a scenario (e.g., Jane participated in the discussion by submitting an initial post, but nothing more) and then asked to assess the grade they would give based on a course rubric. Students discuss together. Instructor provides feedback in the discussion, or summarizes the activity in an announcement after the discussion closes.
    • Example: Instructor directs class discussion around the following scenarios to provide an opportunity for learners to practice using the discussion rubric

In this assignment, you will be presented with several scenarios that you are likely to encounter in this course, and I ask you to “grade” them. Use the discussion and assignment evaluation rubric provided to determine the points that would be awarded for each scenario. Post the grades you would award for each scenario as a reply. The purpose of this assignment is to give you experience with applying the discussion rubric and understanding the criteria, so you will better understand what is expected of you in our online course discussions. If you have any questions about this assignment, please post them in the Ask a Question forum associated with this module. You must complete this activity, before can advance to the next course module. I will provide you with individual and group feedback on this assignment by the end of the week. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this assignment, the feedback you receive, of your understanding of how you will be evaluated in this course, please come to our scheduled Office Hour.

  • Scenario 1: In a discussion, student A submits one discussion post. The post was submitted on time, it addresses all the questions asked in the discussion instructions. The post is approximately 500 words long and is pretty well developed. There are some minor APA offenses. How many points will student A earn for this discussion submission? Why?
  • Scenario 2: Student B is very active in the discussion and posts several posts. The student’s first post answers three out of four questions posed in the discussion instructions. The first post is approximately 350 words long. A couple of other posts are about 500 words long. The student’s arguments are well developed, but the student does not cite any reading materials. How many points will student B earn for these posts? Why?
  • Scenario 3: Student C submitted a brilliant assignment that answers all the questions posed in the instructions and is approximately 450 words long. The submission came 3 days after the deadline and the student had not communicated this with the instructor. The assignment also does not cite any sources. How many points will student C earn for this submission? Why?

Explore More Refreshing Ideas from the Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository (TOPR) at the University of Central Florida (UCF)

This Pedagogical Practice from TOPR explores methods and approaches to incorporating self-assessments in support of learner success in online courses.

Use Self Tests to Guide and Motivate Students’ Learning
Self‐assessment can play a central role in learning, revisions and review (Andreade & Du 2007; Weimer, 2009). The self‐assessment process involves a complex process of internalization and self‐regulation, and with implications for research and practice. (Read more …)

Explore Related Resources

Boud, D., Lawson, R., and Thompson, D. “Does Student Engagement in Self-Assessment Calibrate Their Judgement Over Time?” Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 2013, 38 (3), 941-956.
Hwang, W., Hsu, J., Shadiev, R. r., Chang, C., & Huang, Y. (2015). Employing self-assessment, journaling, and peer sharing to enhance learning from an online course. Journal Of Computing In Higher Education, 27(2), 114-133.
Falchikov, N., and Boud, D. “Student Self-Assessment in Higher Education: A Meta-Analysis.” Review of Educational Research, 1989, 59 (4), 395-430.
Raymond, A. a., Jacob, E. e., Jacob, D. D., & Lyons, J. j. (2016). Peer learning a pedagogical approach to enhance online learning: A qualitative exploration. Nurse Education Today, 44165-169.
Zimmerman, B. J. 1989. “Becoming a Self-Regulated Learner: An Overview.” Theory into Practice.
Frank, T., & Scharff, L. F.V., Learning contracts in undergraduate courses: Impacts on student behaviors and academic performance. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, Vol. 13, No. 4, October 2013, pp. 36–53.

Share What You Know

OSCQR has been developed by a community of online practitioners interested in quality course design. There are numerous opportunities for community members to offer suggestions, donate resources, and help with future development.

Discuss this standard in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

Contribute your own ideas or refresh resources by filling out the OSCQR Examples Contribution Form.

OSCQR – Standard #46RSI Dashboard illustration

OSCQR – Standard #46RSI Dashboard illustration

Criteria for the assessment of a graded assignment are clearly articulated (rubrics, exemplary work).

Review These Explanations

Rubrics are recommended as a best practice for communicating criteria and achievement levels for assignments in online courses. Elikai & Schuhmann (2010) found that grading policies and associated rubrics motivated learning by associating levels of mastery and performance with a specific grade, and guiding achievement progress.

According to Worlf & Goodwin (2007), rubrics:

  • Make learning targets clearer;
  • Guide the design and delivery of instruction;
  • Normalize the assessment process; and
  • Give learners self- and peer-assessment guidelines.

Guidelines or rubrics for the assessment of graded work should include performance criteria, setting desired performance/proficiency levels for learners, and creating performance descriptions. This includes providing details for what constitutes the continuum of accomplishment, from unsatisfactory through to exemplary, and includes grades associated with each level along the continuum. Criteria for grading schemes (points and percentages) and ranges should be clear (what gets and A, B, and so on), and tie directly to the goals and objectives of the assigned work that is to be evaluated.

Showcasing exemplary work provides learners with a clear example of what outcomes the assignment demands, and what mastery levels need to be reached. Before posting exemplary work, be sure to get permission from the learner whose work you would like to showcase.

References:

Elikai, F., & Schuhmann, P. W. (2010). An examination of the impact of grading policies on students’ achievement. Issues in Accounting Education, 25 (4), 677-693.

Wolf, K. K., & Goodwin, L. L. (2007). Evaluating and Enhancing Outcomes Assessment Quality in Higher Education Programs. Metropolitan Universities, 18(2), 42-56.

Regular and Substantive Interaction (RSI)

How This Standard Supports RSIRSI Dashboard illustration

This standard can support regular and substantive interaction in the online course design by providing explicit instructions and expectations, rubrics, models/examples, opportunities for peer evaluation, and self assessment, as well as details on how feedback will be provided, when it can be expected, and how course work will be work evaluated. Directing learners to ask questions and interact with the instructor about course assignments, activities, and the related grading criteria and expectations, such as in an online discussion forum, further supports RSI, and is a good general practice. Scheduling specific instructor-facilitated discussion in groups, or in private Office Hours with individuals, to discuss course content, activities, assignment feedback, provide help, answer questions, and/or get clarification demonstrates compliance with RSI.

Refresh Your Course with These Ideas

General Suggestions/Resources

Rubrics/Tools:

Examples

Explore More Refreshing Ideas from the Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository (TOPR) at the University of Central Florida (UCF)

This Pedagogical Practice from TOPR explores methods and approaches to providing clear rubrics for learners in support of learner success in online courses.

Use Rubrics to Evaluate Students’ Online Discussions
While faculty might hope that students can “just discuss” a topic online with little or no support, Beckett, Amaro‐Jiménez, and Beckett (2010) found that “even doctoral students may need explicit grading instructions, and therefore provide rubrics and sample responses while not stifling creativity” (p. 331). Rubrics provide clear expectations for students regarding how an assignment, that can otherwise be subjective, will be graded. (Read more …)

Explore Related Resources

Andrade, H. 2000. Using rubrics to promote thinking and learning. Educational Leadership 57, no. 5: 13-18.
Arter, J., and J. Chappuis. 2007. Creating and recognizing quality rubrics. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Merrill Prentice Hall.
Reddy, Y., & Andrade, H. (2010). A review of rubric use in higher education. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 35(4).
Stiggins, R.J. 2001. Student-involved classroom assessment. 3rd ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Share What You Know

OSCQR has been developed by a community of online practitioners interested in quality course design. There are numerous opportunities for community members to offer suggestions, donate resources, and help with future development.

Discuss this standard in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

Contribute your own ideas or refresh resources by filling out the OSCQR Examples Contribution Form.

OSCQR – Standard #45RSI Dashboard illustration

OSCQR – Standard #45RSI Dashboard illustration

Course includes frequent, appropriate, and authentic methods to assess the learners’ mastery of content.

Review These Explanations

Consistent and regular assessments help learners demonstrate their progress and deficiencies. As learners move through an online course, they should encounter regular assignments, activities, and interactions designed to assess how well they have mastered the learning content, and how close they are to meeting program, course, or module learning objectives.

They key to establishing an appropriate assessment strategy is first making sure that established goals are measurable, and then mapping activities back to those goals to see which best lend themselves to conveying learner mastery. It comes down to one simple question – how will you know that learning has taken place?

According to Palloff and Pratt (2013), “A learner-centered assessment is an assessment that links what the student is learning in the course to the assessment process”. Multiple choice tests and quizzes may be easy to grade, but writing assignments, collaborative exercises, case studies, and interactive discussions provide a more authentic assessment of learner mastery by requiring reflection, synthesis, and the creation of new knowledge.

Learners can become lost in online courses that fail to measure mastery on a consistent or regular basis, as they have little to motivate their participation. Mastering competencies on a regular basis within an online course helps learners succeed by developing competence, understanding, and comprehension, which leads to the ability to demonstrate competence and elicit feedback (Hulleman et al., 2010).

References:

Hulleman, C., Schrager, S., Bodmann, S., & Harackiewicz, J. (2010). A meta-analytic review of achievement goal measures: Different labels for the same constructs or different constructs with similar labels? Psychological Bulletin, 136(3), 422.

Palloff, R. M., & Pratt, K. (2013). Lessons from the virtual classroom: the realities of online teaching. Second edition. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Regular and Substantive Interaction (RSI)

How This Standard Supports RSI

RSI Dashboard illustrationThis standard can support regular and substantive interaction by including a variety of ways to assess learning, and by ensuring that learners receive timely feedback on their work and course progress, and scheduled opportunities to review or discuss their work with the instructor. Authentic online assessment is an essential part of an effective high-quality online learning experience. Instructors can design online learning assessments and evaluations of student learning/mastery by considering approaches that are more effective and appropriate in online learning environments. With the understanding that some online assessments can be largely “take home,” open book, and potentially collaborative in nature, instead of relying on 1 or 2 high stakes multiple-choice-type exams, alternative methods can be leveraged to help learners make their thinking, understanding, and learning visible to the instructor, and others in the course for assessment, feedback, and guidance. Effective practices online include opportunities for more frequent self-assessments, peer evaluation, and formative assessments. Some suggestions include:

  • Place a higher value on online course interactions and discussions.
  • Provide learners with choices in how they demonstrate their learning/mastery.
  • Provide opportunities for learners to make their thinking and learning visible to you in ways that demonstrate how they can apply their learning and understanding. Instructors can establish this in the design of the course by providing explicit instructions and expectations, rubrics, models/examples, opportunities for peer evaluation and self assessment, and details on how they will provide feedback, and evaluate work.
  • Focus on the importance of timeliness, interaction, and feedback from the instructor.

Directing learners to ask questions and interact with the instructor about their understanding of course materials and concepts, and about course assessments, such as in an online discussion forum, further supports RSI, and is a good general practice. Scheduling specific instructor-facilitated discussion in groups, or in private Office Hours with individuals, to discuss course content, activities, assignment feedback, provide help, answer questions, and/or get clarification demonstrates compliance with RSI.

Refresh Your Course with These Ideas

General Suggestions

  • Break complex projects/assignments down into smaller components and provide feedback at each step.
  • Use rubrics to articulate and provide detailed expectations for assignments and student performance.
  • Consider using self-assessment quizzes formatively to help learners check their own understanding.
  • Incorporate self- and peer-assessments to promote student teaching presence and community, deepen their understanding of your rubrics, and reduce your workload.
  • To maximize your time and efficiency, consider where you may have opportunities to provide feedback to the entire class– be strategic in where you spend your time producing individual feedback. If you find yourself writing the same/similar feedback on a particular assessment/assignment, consider group feedback.
  • Review textbook companion materials for quizzes and activities that can be integrated into the LMS.
  • Learn to use the grade book, grading, and rubric features within the LMS to guide the development of your assessments, and to assist you to provide rich feedback.
  • Meet with a curriculum developer within your discipline to ensure your course learning objectives align well with your assessments, content and activities.
  • Explore tools that enable learners to interact with course videos, such as PlayPosit, Panopto, etc.
  • Prepare a roadmap of assignments and assessments to visualize the balance of work that learners will be taking on throughout the term.
  • Be explicit in instructions and guidelines about each course activity and its assessment aligns with specific course learning objectives.

Examples

Assessing Asynchronous Interaction

Supporting Academic Honesty

Explore More Refreshing Ideas from the Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository (TOPR) at the University of Central Florida (UCF)

This Pedagogical Practices from TOPR explores methods and approaches to creating assignments and assessments that enable instructors to assess learner mastery of course materials and concepts in online courses.

Individualizing Assignments in an Online Course
Individualizing assignments in an online course promotes student and instructor interest, challenges students to strengthen their research skills, and prevents students from paraphrasing other students’ work and presenting it as their own. (Read more …)

Explore Related Resources

As online education moves into the mainstream of the higher education ecosystem, one question still persists: “How do I know what my online students have learned?” There are no easy answers, just as there aren’t in face-to-face courses, but with a little creativity and flexibility, you soon discover that the online learning environment opens up a host of new educational assessment possibilities.
Ng, C. (2015). Learners’ Goal Profiles and their Learning Patterns over an Academic Year. International Review of Research in Open & Distance Learning, 16(3), 86-109.

Share What You Know

OSCQR has been developed by a community of online practitioners interested in quality course design. There are numerous opportunities for community members to offer suggestions, donate resources, and help with future development.

Discuss this standard in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

Contribute your own ideas or refresh resources by filling out the OSCQR Examples Contribution Form.

OSCQR – Standard #44RSI Dashboard illustration

OSCQR – Standard #44RSI Dashboard illustration

Course grading policies, including consequences of late submissions, are clearly stated in the Course Information/ Syllabus materials.

Review These Explanations

Learners need to know how their work will be assessed in a clear and transparent manner. Grading policies can guide learner progress, and promote fair and objective review and assessment of all graded work. Research shows that grading policies directly impact learner motivation. Elikai & Schuhmann (2010) found that strict grading policies motivated learner learning by associating levels of mastery and performance with a specific grade, and guiding achievement progress. Having a clear understanding on how one will be assessed and evaluated also scaffolds online learner self-regulation.

All activities, assignments, and graded activities should have clear goals and criteria for assessment within their descriptions. Linking back to grading policies from each graded activity will provide more opportunities for learners to understand what is expected from them, and the associated guidelines, or rubrics can help guide their progress through the assignment or graded activity.

Including clear course grading policies in both the Course Information/Syllabus materials will also mitigate issues related to and learner questions, concerns, or challenges regarding grades received.

References:

Elikai, F., & Schuhmann, P. W. (2010). An examination of the impact of grading policies on students’ achievement. Issues in Accounting Education, 25 (4), 677-693.

Regular and Substantive Interaction (RSI)

How This Standard Supports RSI

RSI Dashboard illustrationOnline courses can support regular and substantive interaction by providing explicit instructions and expectations, grading schemes, rubrics, models/examples, and details on how they will evaluate work, provide feedback, and any consequences for not meeting course requirements/ expectations clearly in the course information area or syllabus. The opportunity for learners to discuss, ask questions, or how learners can appeal, make up work/missed classes, or co-create any course expectations is visible in the design of the course.Course communication plans for regular, predictable, and substantive instructor-to-learner interaction, and clearly stated expectations for timely and regular feedback from the instructor are provided. Course expectations for all assignments, activities, assessments/evaluations, and their associated grading policies, including instructor and learner roles, communications, interaction, collaboration, criteria and any consequences/penalties for not meeting stated requirements, need to be explicit, clear, and easy to find. The Course Information/Syllabus materials and course assignment instructions provide details such as purpose, description, learning outcomes, methods and criteria for evaluation, and any other requirements. Directing learners to ask questions and interact with the instructor about course grading policies and consequences for not meeting expectations, such as in an online discussion forum, further supports RSI, and is a good general practice. Scheduling a specific instructor-facilitated discussion on these topics demonstrates compliance with RSI.

Refresh Your Course with These Ideas

General Suggestions

  • Course grading policies and guidelines, including performance expectations, scheduled communications for feedback, expectations regarding timeliness of feedback and returned work/grades, examples/models, grading schemes, extra credit, and missed deadlines, late submissions, missed/incomplete work and the consequences, are clearly articulated in the Course Information/Syllabus materials.
  • Establish criteria that ties back to program, course, and module objectives. Consider characteristics of work such as clarity, precision, spelling, grammar, creativity, critical inquiry, demonstrable skills, etc.
  • Keep things simple. If an assignment or graded activity can be measured by pass/fail, consider using a simplified grading scale.
  • Set strict re-grading rules and stick to them. Including a clear policy on changing grades, or disputes will mitigate learner grade inquiries.
  • The importance of meeting deadlines, on-time and complete submissions of course work, is emphasized in the grading policies.
  • Create a handbook of grading policies and rubrics that learners can download and keep on hand while they are working on assignments/projects.
  • If you set up peer-reviewed graded work, be sure to provide establish a grading system and/or rubric specifically for the learners, and ask for feedback on how well they think the system and/or rubric is working.
    • For group projects, include a team reporting tool with a grading rubric for learners to provide feedback on how other learners fulfilled their roles on the team.
  • Explicitly state in the Course Expectations/Evaluation materials that a learner can not not choose to not engage or complete (i.e., fail) any one aspect, or component of the course, and still pass the course.
  • Classroom Management for Online Courses.

Examples

Supporting Academic Honesty

Explore More Refreshing Ideas from the Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository (TOPR) at the University of Central Florida (UCF)

These Pedagogical Practices from TOPR explore methods and approaches to providing clear grading guidelines and rubrics for learners in support of learner success in online courses.

Create a Course Contract Assignment to Help Students Learn about Course Policies
It is very important to design an online course in a way that supports students to get started on the right foot (Chico, 2009). When a student starts an online course, they read the essential course information (syllabus, course expectations, instructor introduction) and learn about the course policies and expectations. Otherwise, miscommunications can happen due to a lack of understanding of the essential course information. (Read more …)
Use Rubrics to Evaluate Students’ Online Discussions
While faculty might hope that students can “just discuss” a topic online with little or no support, Beckett, Amaro‐Jiménez, and Beckett (2010) found that “even doctoral students may need explicit grading instructions, and therefore provide rubrics and sample responses while not stifling creativity” (p. 331). Rubrics provide clear expectations for students regarding how an assignment, that can otherwise be subjective, will be graded. (Read more …)
Use Syllabus Quiz to Familiarize Students with Course Policies and Expectations
In the online environment, it is important to provide clear expectations, policies, and grading expectations and to ensure that students are familiar with these policies and expectations (California State University, Chico, 2014). You may have a very detailed syllabus. However, students may not carefully read all of these details. (Read more …)

Explore Related Resources

Karimbux, N. Y. (2013). Knowing Where We’re Going in Assessment. Journal of Dental Education, 77(12), 1555.
Yalcin, A., & Kaw, A. (2011). Do Homework Grading Policies Affect Student Learning? International Journal of Engineering Education, 27(6), 1333-1342.

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