Online assessment basics


New opportunities

Online education offers a range of assessment options that you might not have previously considered as the old system worked fine.  The options available in online assessment may provide additional flexibility for students (in terms of when, where, and how they complete assessments), for graders (in terms of when, where, and how they grade assessments), and for you in terms of the types of assessments you use and how the information from those assessments impact your teaching and your engagement with students.

The Tools and Strategies pages have a collection of technological solutions for streamlining or automating assessment online, as well as for engaging students through forms of peer assessment.

New challenges

In shifting assessment online, it is important to recognize this may create challenges for students.  Is it fair for students in other times zones if you expect them to deliver a live presentation online or write a course exam at what may be the middle of the night in their time zone?  In addition, consider that not all students have reliable internet connection at home (even a normally high-speed network may slowed by others on video calls or downloading large files).  In addition to fast, reliable internet, some online proctoring tools for exams require webcams, microphones, and large amounts of computer storage space, which the student may not have.  Finally, consider that some student’s study space may be a shared area in a home, with distractions from others around them to contend with.

Maintaining Integrity

One of the biggest single issues to consider with online assessment is integrity.  In many traditional courses, we could be reasonably confident that in a midterm or final exam students were behaving honestly and that the work they submitted was their own.  The shift to online removes much of our ability to monitor student behaviours during exam-type assessments.  In turns out that the situation is potentially even worse, as most research shows academic misconduct is already quite common and models of academic misconduct as well as some studies speaking to students suggest it is likely to get worse online.  At the same time, treating all students like criminals is not the answer either, and a balance is required.

The Academic Integrity pages more fully explore what the literature reveals about the current state of academic misconduct, as well as providing a framework, strategies, and specific guidelines for reducing incidents of misconduct.

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