Taking Your Classroom Assessment Techniques Online

Last week was quiz week, where we talked a lot about how to set up exams in your course. While some of your summative assessments may have to change when you move your courses online, your quizzes and assignments are pretty easy to move into your course in Moodle with only minor changes and considerations.

What most instructors struggle with is formative assessment. When you don’t see your students for those three hours each week, it can be challenging to understand where they are at and how they are doing. Well, it’s your lucky day! We are going to give you the low down on some of our favourite classroom assessment techniques and how you might use them in your online course!

Ticket out the door

The ticket out the door is a quick activity to ensure that the students have grasped the key concepts of the lesson. In a face to face class, you might hand out a slip of paper and ask each student to identify the key concept from the class and collect them as they leave. In an online class, you can do the same thing!

Moodle has a wonderful feature that allows you to keep content hidden until a student meets certain completion criteria. For example, you can set the criteria up so that a student cannot view the Week 3 material until they have written a quiz on the Week 2 material. This can be set up in the Restrict Access section of any Moodle activity, resource, or content block.

Below is an example of a question you might ask (click the photo to enlarge).

Ticket out the door

One minute essay

A one minute essay, sometimes called a quick write, is exactly what is sounds like. A few sentences where the students summarize their key learnings, questions, or comments on their learning in the course. This is a quick way to check that students are keeping up with the material and understanding the content. You can collect these in different ways in an online course: a discussion forum, an assignment, a quick Google Forum (so all of the responses end up in one spreadsheet!), etc.

Learning logs

Learning logs are used for students’ reflections on what they are learning. You can ask your students to reflect on any number of things, such as their learning process or unanswered questions. By reading and responding to their learning logs, you are building rapport, maintaining presence and contact (which many people find difficult in online courses), and getting feedback that can help you teach more effectively and efficiently.

You could use a learning log in Moodle through the assignment activity, you could set up a wiki or forum for each student, or you could use a Google Doc that the student contributes to over the entire semester. The E-Learning Office can help you weigh the pros and cons and set up your learning logs.

Graphic organizers

Graphic organizers are visual models that help students organize information in order to communicate more effectively. Students can use graphic organizers for brainstorming, organizing writing or research, or decision-making. There is a whole internet full of resources for creating graphic organizers such as venn diagrams, KWL charts, mind maps, double-entry journals, chain of events, concept maps, and decision making charts (to name a few!). The E-Learning Office can help you find the resource or template that will meet your needs!

Four corners

Four corners can be used to identify students’ understanding of a topic, or to determine where they stand on a particular topic. In a face-to-face classroom, you would label the four corners of the room words that represent what you are trying to get from the students. For example, some version of “Strongly agree” to “Strongly disagree” or “Completely understand” to “Completely lost”, depending on what you are trying to accomplish.

In an online course, you could use this classroom assessment technique in a few different ways. One possibility is to do a survey in Google Forms. Include a couple of questions about a controversial topic you are discussing and have students respond. Once all of the responses are in, you can present the breakdown of responses to the class and discuss it, or use the responses to adapt your teaching.

If you were teaching in Blackboard Collaborate, you could also use this technique by setting up a slide with your options in the four corners of the slide, and have your students use their pointers to choose where they are. This way is completely anonymous – so you could also use this strategy to ask some higher risk questions without running the risk of making your students feel uncomfortable if they answer honestly.

With a little bit of creativity, we can help you incorporate formative assessment to engage your online students in new ways. Contact the E-Learning Office today to talk about your favourite strategies for in-class assessment!