FurmanFlex Assessment

Assessing student learning is a critical component of all complete instructional designs. Instructors with experience teaching will be familiar with a variety of assessment techniques and tools, and are likely to be effective in using them to assess learning in their primary instructional delivery mode. The major challenges for assessment in a FurmanFlex course are to:

  1. develop assessment skills using techniques and tools effective in alternative F2F modes (online synchronous and asynchronous, most commonly), and
  2. ensure that assessment in any mode measures equivalent learning outcomes and maintains expectations around rigor and academic integrity.

Instructors adept at assessing learning in the F2F classroom might elect to continue to use the same assessment approaches for classroom students as they would in a single-mode classroom-based class. The question then becomes how will assessment of the same learning outcome be carried out with online students? Will slight revisions (timing, format, etc.) be sufficient? Will new approaches be needed? Is it possible that a new design is warranted that allow students in both modes to engage in assessment in an identical way (e.g. all quizzes online in Moodle) (Beatty, 2019)?

Adapting Exams

It can be challenging to replicate standard, timed exams in online environments for a number of reasons, not the least of which is concerns about academic integrity. To adapt a standard, timed exam, some ideas include converting an exam to an applied take-home version, or utilizing the asynchronous exam format that is part of Furman’s learning management system, Moodle. Moodle has a quiz feature with built-in capability to scramble answer and question order for added protection against academic dishonesty. More information about developing non-biased, application-based multiple choice questions is available here. If you do utilize standard exams in your course, you might also think about incorporating exam-wrapper activities into your assessment system. You can find a detailed exam-wrapper step-by-step guide from Stanford or look through examples from Duquesne and Carnegie Mellon. If you feel as if proctored, synchronous exams are essential for your course, you might consider proctoring those via an online video conferencing platform like Zoom. In order to do this, you would set up a timed Moodle Quiz, gather students in a Zoom session, and proctor the exam live. 

Expanding Assessment Practices

Exams are not the only way to assess learning, and perhaps not even the best. Other options include open and closed-book application activities for your assessment. Assessing learning through project reports, individual or group presentations (delivered live or recorded and shared online), and other forms of authentic assessment are often appropriate in all modes of instruction with very little variance needed. For those interested in capturing more advance input responses (formulas, calculations, etc.), consider using draw and write with ink features in Office 365 applications (word, excel, PowerPoint) for capturing student work (equations, formulas, show-your-work scenarios) for assessment. 

Integrating robust self-assessment and peer assessment activities not only provide opportunities to collect rich evidence of student learning outcomes, but also help students develop valuable analytic and critical thinking skills.

Finally, instead of confining assessment to a few high-stakes evaluations, you might consider assessing student learning more often with classroom assessment techniques. For example, using index cards (or virtual note codes) to ask students to apply a concept to a real-world situation in class, or having students write down the most important point of the class and submit their answers is a quick and simple strategy to assess comprehension. Using classroom polling is another opportunity to have students answer a variety of questions to gauge understanding in real-time.

Additional Tips to Consider:

  • When it comes to assessment, less might be more. In alignment with your course learning outcomes, what do you really want your students to know? What evidence of that learning is most critical?
  • Providing assessment options can allow students to demonstrate evidence of their learning in ways that play to their strengths and interests. As long as you have clearly articulated learning outcomes and have determined what kinds of evidence will demonstrate that outcome, you might find that students are able to show that in many different ways. Grading may be more interesting for you, too!
  • The use of well-articulated rubrics for assessment is advisable as this alleviates student worry by outlining your specific expectations and criteria and helps to ensure that no matter the mode or format of assessment, you are evaluating student learning in an equitable and consistent fashion. Rubrics are also helpful at streamlining your grading. Moodle provides options to utilize traditional rubrics and grading guides in the online system.
Still looking for assessment ideas? Check out this resource bank.


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