Best Practices | Assessments

Overview

Choosing an Effective Assessment

When developing a course, an instructor must consider how to effectively measure student progress and performance. A high-quality course should integrate a variety of assessments that are aligned with objectives, learning activities, and instructional materials. Consider the following table - which includes assessment types and respective purposes, examples, and implementations - when exploring assessment options:

 

Table of Assessment Types

(Table taken from Julie Carter’s Best Practices Online: Improving Student Learning with Assessment article.)

 

Implementing Peer Assessment

Peer assessment is an authentic tool that is used to evaluate student learning while contributing to the growth of critical thinking and metacognitive skills. By utilizing this instructional tool in courses, instructors give students the opportunity to consider the attributes of quality work as they appraise the work of their classmates.

 

As students construct knowledge and produce artifacts to showcase their learning, constructive feedback can serve as a guide to help them develop an improved end product. Peer assessment is a reflective mechanism that, when done well, can lift the level of student performance.

 

Strategies for including peer assessment in your course:

  • When including peer assessment in your course, it's important to make clear to your students why you are using peer assessment and how it will impact their learning. By stating a purpose for incorporating the tool, you add relevance to the assignment, which will increase student motivation.
  • When developing activities that will be used for peer assessment, instructors should establish detailed and precise criteria and standards for how student work will be evaluated. Similar to developing a rubric, peer assessment criteria should use specific language that gives students consistent benchmarks for which to assess the qualities of their peers' work.
  • It is good instructional practice to make peer assessments anonymous. Anonymity allows students to feel comfortable about giving an honest review of the work of their peers.
  • Instructors should allow students to practice using peer assessment on a structured low-stakes assignment prior to it being used to measure high-stakes summative assessments. This will accustom students to exposing their work to more public scrutiny, giving them safe opportunities to improve their performance using informal feedback while developing their competence as assessors (Lutze-Mann, 2015).
  • Before employing peer assessment in courses, instructors need to make sure that their students have abundant knowledge and are sufficiently equipped to make educated decisions about the work of their peers.
  • Breakdown more complicated assignments into several smaller chunks to be assessed individually and then allow students to revise their work based on commentary from their peers. This assists in supporting the importance of peer assessment as part of a greater knowledge development system.

(Excerpt taken from Rozy Parlette’s Best Practices Online: Peer Assessment article.)

 

In Practice

Canvas enables instructors to create a wide range of assessments to challenge their students and measure their progress in the course. Consider the following features when constructing assessments for a course:

 

Quizzes allows instructors to create quizzes with a variety of question-and-answer formats - including true-false, multiple-choice, and open-ended response. Whether utilizing quizzes as diagnostic, formative, or summative assessments, quizzes in Canvas can be quickly scored and used to provide feedback to students on their progress in comprehending and applying concepts from the course.

 

Discussions is a great tool for implementing peer assessment. Have students post their works-in-progress and final products to the discussion board for their peers to evaluate according to stated grading criteria. This strategy for peer assessment will encourage students to reflect upon the expectations of the assignment, and to think about the progress and quality of their own work.

 

Assignments also expands the possibilities for implementing effective and varied assessments by allowing for students to submit work in an array of formats - including text entry, website URL, media recordings, and file uploads. Instructors can use Assignments to assign and collect a variety of assessments: persuasive blog entries, case study responses, collaborative projects, reflective journal entries, critical thinking and application exercises, and multimedia presentations.

 

Additional Resources

Read more about Authentic Assessment to guide the creation of effective assessments for a course.

 

References

Lutze-Mann, L. (2015, March 30). Student Peer Assessment. Retrieved August 19, 2015, from https://teaching.unsw.edu.au/printpdf/544.

 

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