Assess student learning

The information here is part of a series intended to help instructors Keep teaching during prolonged campus or building closures.

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It is fairly easy to give small quizzes to hold students accountable or do spot-checks on their learning, and this might be ideal to keep students on track during class disruptions. Providing high-stakes tests online can be challenging, however; they place extra stress on students, and test integrity is difficult to ensure. If you know there is a date for resuming on-campus classes, consider holding off on exams until you return. UITS is adopting proctored online testing tools for fully online courses, and will work to expand this capability in the event of a campus closure.

General tips for assessing student learning during class disruption:

  • Embrace short quizzes: Short quizzes can be a great way to keep students engaged with course concepts, particularly if they are interspersed with small chunks of video lecture. Consider using very-low-stakes quizzes to give students practice at applying concepts—just enough points to hold them accountable, but not so many that the activity becomes all about points.
  • Move beyond simple facts: It is good to reinforce concepts through practice on a quiz, but generally it is best to move beyond factual answers that students can quickly look up. Instead, write questions that prompt students to apply concepts to new scenarios, or ask them to identify the best of multiple correct answers.
  • Check for publisher's test banks: Look to see if your textbook publisher has question banks that can be loaded into Canvas; see How to Connect Your Canvas Course with Various Publisher Tools. Even if you don't use these questions for your exams, they can be useful for simple quizzes. Some textbooks also have their own online quizzing tools that can help keep students engaged with materials.
  • Update expectations for projects: Campus disruptions may limit students' access to resources they need to complete papers or other projects, and team projects may be harmed by a team's inability to meet. Be ready to change assignment expectations based on the limitations a crisis may impose, including options for allowing individual rather than group projects, having groups record presentations with Zoom, or adjusting the types of resources needed for research papers.
  • Consider alternate exams: Delivering a secure exam online can be difficult without a good deal of preparation and support, so consider giving open-book exams or other types of exams. They can be harder to grade, but you have fewer worries about test security.

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Tools for online student assessment

Canvas Quizzes

The Quizzes tool, despite having the word "quiz" in its name, can be used for both low-stakes assessment (for example, quizzes, practice quizzes, surveys) and high-stakes assessments (tests or exams). Its strength lies in the ability of Canvas to automatically grade many question types, including multiple-choice, true/false, matching, numeric, and fill-in-the-blank. You can also include short answers and essay questions, and grade those manually using SpeedGrader. The quiz questions themselves can easily incorporate images or video, in addition to text.

Other useful quiz options include the ability to scramble answers for multiple-choice questions, allowing multiple attempts (and keeping only the high score, or average score of all attempts), and showing one question at a time. Canvas can also randomize quiz questions for you if you set up a question group.


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Canvas Quick Check

Quick Check is a tool that makes it easy to program low-stakes quizzes that appear at the bottom of Canvas content. They're best used for formative feedback, helping students determine if they've understood the content.

As with other Canvas tools, you can enable Quick Check from the course navigation menu. Similar to the Quizzes tool, Quick Check includes multiple choice, matching, fill-in-the-blank, drop-downs, and numerical question types. These questions are meant to be automatically graded (no essays) and taken multiple times. The results are passed to Canvas.

After enabling the Quick Check tool in your course in Canvas, you'll want to create sets and subsets of questions. Many instructors create sets based on a course or group of courses, and subsets based on modules or chapters within those courses, but you can organize them in whatever way suits your course. Once you've created a few sets, you put them into action using the Assignments tool. Place the content that you want your students to learn in the Assignments instruction area, choose External Tool as the submission type, select Quick Check, and then choose the one you want to associate with that content.


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This option for proctored online tests is available without fee to courses offered via IU Online; check to see if your course is on the list. During campus emergencies, UITS may work to temporarily expand availability. Examity offers several levels of proctoring, from checking identity before a student begins a test to video-based proctoring as the student takes the test.

Because taking a higher-stakes exam online with proctoring can add to anxiety, try to schedule a low-stakes, participation-only practice test using Examity before scheduling a high-stakes exam. This allows students to confirm that they have the required equipment (a computer with a camera and a microphone) and sufficient internet speed. It also gives them a chance to get familiar with the process beforehand.

This is document arye in the Knowledge Base.
Last modified on 2019-11-19 16:29:50.

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