by Dr. Pamela Speaks
The value of assessment lies in defining the purpose of the course and this is based solely on the course goals and outcomes established and stated in the course syllabus. These goals and outcomes are established in collaboration with experts in respective fields that contribute to expectations of the Higher Learning Commission Criteria for Accreditation section 4B requires that:
The institution demonstrates a commitment to educational achievement and
improvement through ongoing assessment of student learning.
- The institution has clearly stated goals for student learning and effective processes for assessment of student learning and achievement of learning goals.
- The institution assesses achievement of the learning outcomes that it claims for its curricular and co-curricular programs.
- The institution uses the information gained from assessment to improve student learning.
- The institution’s processes and methodologies to assess student learning reflect good practice, including the substantial participation of faculty and other instructional staff members.
Assessment refers to a systematic and continuous process of collecting and analyzing information that informs instructional strategies that target what we want students to know and do upon completion of instruction within a course or program and how we determine mastery (that they really “got” it).
“Assessment is essential not only to guide the development of individual students but also to monitor and continuously improve the quality of programs, inform prospective students and their parents, and provide evidence of accountability to those who pay our way,” (Gardiner, 1994, p. 109).
Understanding goals, objectives and outcomes are key to making a course relative and relevant. Following these guidelines are foundational to online courses and provide the guidelines necessary for accountability for faculty and ownership for students. According to Gikandi, Morrow, & Davis (2011), “As online and blended learning has become common place educational strategy in higher education, educators need to reconceptualise fundamental issues of teaching, learning and assessment in non traditional spaces.” Their study reveals key themes and findings in the field of online formative assessment. Instructional feedback plays a critical role and differs from feedback within a traditional setting. Use of tools necessary for success within Blackboard regarding assessment and evaluation for student comprehension involve Collaborate, Discussion Board forums, Wiki, self-test quiz, groups, e-portfolios and virtual classroom to name a few. Each of these opportunities require practice and/or training for effective implementation. In addition, many online students especially those who are new to the online/distance/remote learning environment may require more tutorial guidance than instructors are accustomed to providing. Time spent mastering these assessment opportunities in a front-loading manner allows for focus on content through the online instructional process in maintaining integrity and limiting compromise detracting from intent and purpose of course goals and outcomes.
Considering the heightened priority of validity and reliability of online course assessment to serve the intended purposes of meeting goals, objectives and outcomes in an online learning environment, attention to detail and best practice or innovative practice is a requirement to successful online formative assessment of student learning.
Gardiner, Lion F. (1994). Redesigning higher education: Producing dramatic gains in student learning. ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report No. 7.
Gikandi, J.S., Morrow, D., & Davis, N.E. (2011). Online formative assessment in higher education: A review of the literature. Computers & Education, 57(4), 2333-2351.
Higher Learning Commission 2015
University of Connecticut
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