Grading and feedback with online tools

There are many options for assessing student work and getting feedback on your class when teaching online – many are useful when teaching a face-to-face course.  The CIT’s Get Ideas web pages include general suggestions for assessing student work. Below are tips and ideas for assessment in online courses.

Use clear guidelines and prepare for any technical problems

  • Use detailed and explicit instructions for completing an assignment or quiz to avoid misunderstandings that can delay student work.
  • Be prepared to offer extended times or alternatives for completing quizzes or assignments in case of technical problems.
  • Create practice exercises and activities at the beginning of the course to make sure students understand how a tool works and that their computer or Internet access will not be a problem.

Consider identity and plagiarism in online assignments and quizzes

  • With online grading, there is an opportunity for cheating.  When designing your course, there are ways to discourage issues with cheating and plagiarism among online students.
  • With online quizzes, use question banks with different questions variations, and randomized questions to minimize opportunities for students to share an answer key.
  • Rather than giving automated feedback at the time the individual student completes a test, do not reveal the answers to questions or feedback on answers until all the student tests have been submitted.
  • Instead of multiple-choice or other types of quizzes, design assignments or tests that include complex and hard to plagiarize questions or activities.
  • If you are concerned about the identity of students taking online quizzes or submitting work, consider online proctoring through a commercial service or by having students take a test online with a webcam that might be periodically monitored by staff or a teaching assistant.

Use polls for quick feedback

How do you know if students understand your class materials? Are all of your online students starting your course or a module with the same basic knowledge or skill set? Polls and surveys are an anonymous way that your students can give you direct feedback about their progress in the course or a particular module or problems they may encounter.

Sakai’s Poll feature can be used for individual quick question feedback from students during an online course. A more comprehensive survey can be given to the students with Sakai’s Test and Quizzes tool or with the Duke-supported Qualtrics survey tool. Anonymous Forums in Sakai are also used for more open ended and ad-hoc feedback from students during an online course.

Use Sakai’s Quiz tool for formative assessment and feedback

Sakai’s Test and Quizzes tool offers a range of options for faculty to create and manage online tests for students.  Several question types are supported, from true/false and multiple-choice to test items that more complex such as matching or image location. Quizzes can be timed and students can be given a single attempt to complete it or allow multiple tries.

The Respondus plug-in for Sakai can be activated when setting up a quiz that “locks down” the student’s web browser and doesn’t allow them to view other web sites during the test.  Sakai’s Test and Quizzes tool can be configured to give feedback to the students on the entire quiz or on particular items in the quiz. Feedback can be distributed either just after submission of the quiz or later when grades for the test are released to all of the students in the course at once.

Assessing and feedback on writing

Faculty teaching writing-based courses or classes with a major writing assignment, do more than just have students turn in their final papers. Students are encouraged to peer-review drafts or final versions of papers through in-person one-on-one feedback or discussion groups and faculty offer feedback on outlines or drafts during office hours.

When teaching online, these activities can be carried out with Sakai and other tools. In addition, online tools can make collecting and grading papers easier to manage.

Use Sakai for feedback and grading on writing

Sakai’s Drop Box tool sets up a folder for each student in the class – students can see their own folder, but not the folders of other students. The faculty member or individual student can upload files to the Drop Box folder. Faculty can use the Drop Box to give annotated feedback on papers by simply downloading the draft from an individual student’s Drop Box folder and then uploading the annotated version. Some faculty use the Drop Box feature in Sakai to easily collect final papers from students.

Sakai also includes a more formal Assignments tool, which can be used for electronic paper submission, commenting and grading to individual students in the course.

Use Sakai for peer-review

Students can provide asynchronous informal feedback on their work by posting it to the Discussion Forums.  You can divide students into groups and set up Forums accessible only to each group of students for “roundtable” discussions of drafts or projects.

Sakai also includes a more formal Peer Review tool that can automate the process of sorting submissions so that students can review each others’ work.

Use VoiceThread for annotating documents

VoiceThread, a tool in Sakai, can be used for annotating documents with text, voice or video comments in online courses.  The faculty member can use the tool to do easy annotating of drafts or final papers to send to individual students. VoiceThread can also be used for peer review of documents by students.



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