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Learning Assessments

Introduction to Learning Assessments

Once you have established your student learning outcomes you can move to the second step in planning your online course.  This second step is to determine exactly what you want to measure and how learners will be evaluated as a result of the learning experience.  These will become your learning assessments.  The assessments that you decide upon should directly align with your learning outcomes.  In order for your course to be in alignment, you will want to be sure you are actually measuring, through your learning assessments, what you state they should have learned, the learning outcomes.

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Types of Assessments

There are a few different commonly used assessment types: diagnostic, formative, and summative. Depending upon what you are trying to accomplish you may choose to mix and match a variety of assessment techniques to see a clearer picture of student learning.

Diagnostic Assessment

Diagnostic assessment can be thought of as a pre-assessment and is often given to student prior to the start of instruction. These can be used prior to the start of the course or throughout the course as you introduce new concepts or topics. Diagnostic assessments can help determine your students' current knowledge, skills, strengths, and weaknesses in order to better address the needs of your current course student make-up. 

Formative Assessment

Formative assessment of learning most often utilizes low-stakes or no-stakes assessment strategies that have little to no effect on a student's final grade. These assessments can benefit both instructors or the students because they provide a quick snapshot of content comprehension. A great example of a formative assessment in a traditional classroom would be polling. In an online class you could include a check your knowledge quiz. 

Summative Assessment

Summative assessment of learning most often utilizes high-stakes assessment strategies that result in a student's earned grade. These assessments are used to evaluate learning once instruction has been completed and are the primary way to determine student mastery of the student learning outcomes. An example of a summative assessment strategy. is a written paper or a group project.

Alignment with Learning Outcomes

When selecting assessments, it is important to keep in mind what your learning outcomes are. What is it that you want your students to do? Do they need to explain something? Do they need to discuss something? Based on what you want them to do you will need to pick an assessment that aligns with that outcome.

Student Learning Outcome:

Explain the process used for planning and developing a class.

Aligned AssessmentMisaligned Assessment

Write a paper describing the steps used in planning and developing a class.

This is in alignment because the student is provided an opportunity to explain the process in a written document. 

Complete a multiple choice quiz about planning and developing a course. 

This is not in alignment because a multiple choice quiz does not provide an opportunity to explain the process.

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