Designing Online Assessments

Being a teacher is more about asking the right questions than giving the right answers. Find best practices for designing online assessments !

Assessments are vital to the learning process for more reasons than one. Not only do they facilitate better learning but are also an indicator of student progress and allow educators to evaluate the effectiveness and quality of their teaching strategies and practices. Therefore, it is important for educators to understand how to design quality assessments online in order to check for student progress.

  •  How are you Assessing? 

There are 3 different types of assessments which can be used for different purposes at different times during the learning process. 

  1. Diagnostic assessments: These evaluate students’ prior knowledge before introducing new concepts and help in establishing a baseline to track student progress;
  2. Formative assessments: These are useful for periodically evaluating student progress at different intervals, and; 
  3.  Summative assessments: They evaluate student performance at the end of an instructional period. 
  • What roles do assessments play? 

There are three essential roles that assessments play in learning. Assessment FOR learning provides simultaneous feedback, is formative and diagnostic. While, Assessment AS learning is self assessment by the learner or peer assessment. It supports metacognition and provides the mindfulness needed to be a better learner. On the other hand, Assessment OF learning judges the results against established criteria or standards and is performance based. Tools like Google Classroom Question can be used for creatively designing assessments online.

  • What role does Feedback play?

Assessment is not beneficial without feedback. Feedback is essential because it helps students to see where they stand and where they’re headed. Good feedback consists of the following elements- it is timely, goal directed, descriptive, ongoing, encourages self reflection and is collaborative. Educators can also refer to the ladder of feedback to better understand how to go about giving feedback to students. Online tools like Floop and Kaizena may be used for the same. 

  • What to do if students are not progressing?

If students are not progressing, educators should Pre-Teach, Peer- Teach and Re- Teach as well as introduce students to the concepts of Peer and Self assessment which helps students to see where they stand. However, when it comes to peer assessment, students need to be taught to give constructive criticism and act with empathy  as opposed to being hard critics. Students also need to be provided with clear success criteria and examples of what excellence looks like.

  •  How to design innovative assessments? 

The key to an innovative assessment is one that allows students to demonstrate their learning in a variety of ways, and also gives students a clear indication of what they should do in order to succeed. Moreover, authentic, innovative assignments would also build in real-world connects and not simply test for content. Take advantage of creative internet resources to build unconventional and innovative assignments for students that extend to them the freedom to use their artistic skills and perform in class. Allow students to express what they’ve learnt in their own creative ways. Digital portfolios on apps like Seesaw, videologs or role-plays using Flipgrid, or even rap songs designed around a compelling social problem – these could all feature as assessments in your toolbox. 

Read our feature on the need for designing Formative Assessments:

Formative Assessments: To Test or Not To Test?

How to eliminate parent dependency and how to determine that students aren’t engaging in unethical practices on online tests? 

The balance between synchronous and asynchronous learning comes into play here. While synchronous learning is going on, an educator must ensure that all students give answers while formative checks are taking place during an online class to assess where students stand and how they are progressing. Using apps like Nearpod or Peardeck which allow for simultaneous interactive checks for understanding are good options to try out. 

Lastly, remember to view assessments as windows into what your students are doing as opposed to viewing them as milestones they need to cross. Shift the focus from a “one size fits all” kind of an approach while designing assessments online and be open to broadening your horizons by incorporating more creativity and art into your process by taking advantage of creative resources on the Internet!


Designing Assessments: Secondary School
Designing Assessments: Primary School

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