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Alternative & Authentic Assessment Strategies
Designing your course using a variety of teaching methods presents challenges for both students and faculty. Course outcomes are always the same for all students. There may be different activities and assignments throughout the course. Assessment strategies may vary depending on the assignments. At the end of the semester the formative and summative assessments should still measure student achievements in the course. Are the students able to do what the outcomes identify?
Giving students flexibility to complete assignments--whether that’s choosing which assignments they can complete or giving more flexible deadlines--can provide some relief to those students facing a multitude of new struggles. Flexibility is a component of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) which is described more in this article Universal Design for Learning.
Empathy goes a long way, also, in helping students achieve their educational goals, so as you are revising deadlines and assessments, it may help to think about options for deadline extensions and the possibilities for alternative assessments.
Communication & Feedback
Communication is critical no matter what changes you make in assessments. Using a variety of methods to share the changes helps to ensure students understand what is expected in the course. Examples of a few different methods to use for communication include; Blackboard Learn Original announcements (posted and sent by email), syllabus, rubrics, FAQs discussion forum, lesson/weekly unit descriptions with outcomes, and short video overviews of expectations.
Tool Tips to Provide Feedback to Students
- Rubrics: online set of criteria for students' work that includes descriptions of levels of performance quality (Blackboard Learn Original Rubrics tool or attach a Word document of the rubric to the assignment)
- Annotations: notes or comments with suggestions for improvements and good work. (Blackboard Learn Original Annotate within the Assignment tool)
- Audio: add audio feedback by recording a short in YuJa and send it (privately) to the student in the gradebook assignment section. The sound of your voice engages the student in what you are saying and “humanizes” your presence in grading
- Video: same as the audio, by adding video you just talk to the student. Another idea is to open up the student’s digital assignment and record your screen while you scroll through the document, commenting on different points. The helps students to focus on what they did well and what needs improvement. This is a great video from a professor at Kansas State, Make Super Simple Videos for Teaching
- Peer review: Blackboard Learn Original has features available to add peer reviewing to your assignments. Blogs, Journals, Groups, Wikis, Discussion
Adding formative assessments throughout the course asking students how their experiences are in the course engages them in the learning process. Show how important students are in helping to make it a successful course. More information on formative in the alternative assessments section, below.
Academic Integrity and Rigor
Keeping in mind the flexibility and change that will occur during the semester, what should not change is the academic integrity and rigor. The following are some suggested strategies to help ensure students understand the work that is required to achieve the outcomes.
- Think about the content you are planning to present in the course. What is most connected to your outcomes? Do you need to include everything? What do the students need to know? Consider less and more in-depth. It all depends on your outcomes.
- Flexibility and options. Provide students with some options for assessments. This helps with the stress they are under and still assesses their strengths and learning. Possibly a project, paper, adjusting test time, or group work.
- Add rubrics to all assignments to make expectations clearer to the students. Rubrics can be used by student to identify the key elements of the assignment and helps them to set achievable goals.
- Move your assessment online. Remote and in-class students can complete assignments, quizzes, exams and projects all within Blackboard.
Alternative & Authentic Assessments
Thinking about your course size, types of exams, and outcomes you may be able to limit use of multiple choice and switch some assessments using other methods. Ideas include; papers, videos, individual or group projects, research studies, charts, and case studies. What assessment types best demonstrate what your outcomes describe? What could be authentic type of assessment that connect directly to the course creating an opportunity for deep learning?
- Formative Assessments can be about many different areas of the course, not just about the content you are teaching. Examples can include
- Ungraded quizzes to help students do self-checks of what they have learned
- Low-stakes quizzes with opportunity to drop the lowest scores
- Clicker questions – use the new TurningPoint Web questions during class questions to assess students understanding at different points in the class
- Bb Learn survey to provide feedback throughout the semester on how the course is going overall. Since the HyFlex model is new to the students, how it is working for them? What can you do to improve their experience?
- Short videos with quiz questions included - Creating YuJa Video Quizzes
- Bringing in a guest speaker and opening a discussion forum to continue the conversation
- Discussion forums can be used as an FAQ area for students to help each other answer questions
- Discussion forums set up with students as leaders each week to guide and summarize the responses
- Classroom Assessments Techniques CATS, Angelo & Cross, include many ideas from low to high stakes types (muddiest point quiz every class, one-minute paper weekly, and think-pair-share)
- Summative Assessments are the most commonly used in courses, high-stakes midterm and final exams. In higher level courses they may be supplemented with research papers and projects. The following are some examples for other methods of summative assessments.
- Take-home exams with open book and no time limits other than due dates. Questions in these exams can include data sets, complex questions, comparisons and synthesis. These are the type of answers that can’t be copied from elsewhere.
- Case studies are great examples of reflection and contrast in developing the study.
- Portfolios, which can include semester long journals from each student reflecting their progress in the course
- Some instructors offer opportunities to create videos for final projects.
Resource Best Practices in Alternative Assessments - Ryerson University Learning & Teaching Office
Quizzes and Exams
- Blackboard Learn Original for Instructors - Tests, Pools, and Surveys
- Many different question type
- Random blocks of questions displayed
- Pools of questions based on chapter, lesson, theme
- Timed exams and password protected
- Respondus 4.0 to convert Word document test to Blackboard
- Respondus LockDown Browser to prevent students from using search features and opening files during the exam