How To Effectively Assess Students In Online Courses

The American education system is built on high stakes testing, but now that schools are forced to move to online delivery in the name of public health, they’re faced with the challenge of effectively testing students remotely.

Because of problems associated with administering high stakes exams in remote settings, the best way to accurately assess students in online courses might be to take a different approach to exams altogether. As Vickie Cook, Executive Director of Online, Professional, and Engaged Learning at the University of Illinois Springfield notes, “Testing is not always the best [option] to assess student outcomes, especially in a remote setting. It can be very stressful with students having to shift into new places and new types of learning.”

More Frequent Assessments

Instead of administering two to three exams worth the majority of students’ grades, some educators have switched to administering lower stakes assessments on a more frequent basis. Erin Irish, Associate professor of Biology at the University of Iowa, shifted to weekly quizzes that allow students to earn the same amount of points they would on midterms and exams. “That has actually helped students,” she says. “Having less important quizzes is something that keeps students on track better.”

Timed Assessments

In addition to assessing students on a more frequent basis, educators have been administering more timed assessments. Because it’s not realistic for educators to enforce closed-book testing in online courses, they’ve taken steps to strategically design and time assessments so students don’t have the time to look up answers.

Erin Irish explains her new approach: “We write questions in such a way that you can’t just quickly go to your book or notes and pull the information out. If students decide to read to find answers, the clock is ticking against them.” Educators like Irish have taken steps to ensure answers to test and quiz questions aren’t found in the index of a textbook, forcing students to study the concepts of course material before assessments take place.

Projects & Alternate Assignments

Traditional assessments can also be replaced with projects or alternate assignments worth the same amount of points as a traditional exam. These projects offer students different ways to prove their knowledge of course material without educators needing to worry as much about academic dishonesty. 

Take Advantage Of Technology

A new approach to assessing students in online courses is made easy with technology like CourseKey.

CourseKey’s comprehensive platform, which works alongside any video conferencing solution, provides a suite of engagement and assessment tools that educators can use to measure student comprehension.

With nine different types of questions, educators can vary the ways that they assess their students. For educators who have recently switched from in-person courses to online, CourseKey makes it easy to digitize their existing assessment content.

Plus, CourseKey makes it simple to open assessments for a specific amount of time. Educators can administer assessments to the entire class to finish within a specified amount of time to limit students’ ability to look up answers in textbooks or online. Educators can also schedule assessments to open and close in the future, making it simple to assign homework and larger projects for students to complete outside of class. 

Making The Transition

Because of the challenges associated with administering high stakes exams in online courses, many educators have switched to lower stakes assessments on a more frequent basis. This new approach to assessing students online is made easy through technology like CourseKey.

For a personal walkthrough of how CourseKey’s assessment tools, as well as engagement and attendance solutions, can help effectively assess your students online, request a demo below.

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