OSCQR – Standard #45

OSCQR – Standard #45

Course includes frequent and appropriate methods to assess 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).


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.

Refresh Your Course with These Ideas

  • Ask your textbook publisher for a review of textbook companion materials for quizzes and activities that can be integrated into the LMS.
  • Learn to use the gradebook, grading, and rubric features within the LMS to guide the development of your assessments.
  • Meet with a curriculum developer within your discipline to map out your learning objectives and assessments.
  • Explore tools that enable learners to interact with course videos, such as PlayPosit.
  • Draw out a roadmap of assignments and assessments to visualize the balance of work that learners will be taking on throughout the term.
  • Be explicit about which learning objectives are met through any assessment by listing them along with activity instructions and guidelines.

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.

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