Best practices to conduct effective online assessments

As the education world grapples with this unimaginable academic session coming to an end, it’s just not about conducting the online sessions efficiently now but making them complete through effective online assessments.

Are my assessments adequate to evaluate student learning, or are they just good enough to respond to the immediate crisis?

How do I incorporate different forms of assessment and experiment with new ideas?

Schools are struggling to find answers to these and many more critical questions regarding assessments. Regardless of the mode of education, they still have the huge responsibility to make this year count, assess student learning and grade them fairly and precisely. They have to ensure the report cards truly reflect each individual’s growth and skills.

Conducting online assessments is quite challenging as schools are unprepared and well-equipped to handle the inherent limitations and complexities of online assessments.

This blog offers guidelines for schools to conduct effective and reliable online assessments.

Assessments should not be just about grades!

Relevant and well-structured assessments should demonstrate what students know, and above all, what they can do.

Assessments should help students succeed and grow by demanding them to reflect, interact and apply their knowledge in new situations, resolve conflicts and communicate information.

Effective online assessments should support progression from – from recalling facts to analyzing facts – from transfer of knowledge through the internet to the creation of new knowledge by using technology creatively.

One assessment cannot measure every skill

A balanced combination of select response methods and constructed response methods works well.

  • Use true/false, fill in the blanks and MCQs for testing quick recall of facts but include open constructed response assessments like essays, to judge deeper knowledge and creative thinking.

Formative and summative assessments are both instrumental at different stages of learning.

  • Use formative ones like quizzes, in-class questions and discussions, polls etc to determine student’s engagement levels and improvise your future lesson plans.
  • Summative assessments are more like final exams given at the end of a unit or a semester to validate and conclude how well your sessions supported the unit’s overall learning targets. You can use these to compare students’ performance to a benchmark and assign grades accordingly.

To discourage academic dishonesty, incorporate performance-based assessments which assess multiple things and can be split into discrete smaller tasks – each gauging an individual learning target. Proctored exams can be used where webcams can track student activity and assist teachers to check suspicious student activities.

Technology and pedagogy must go hand-in-hand

The key is to use the right assessment tool to measure the right skill.

It is important to choose relevant online assessment tools that are efficient as well as easy to use.

Choose from effective online instructional and assessment strategies mentioned below that fulfill your assessment goals:

  1. Presentations
  • Builds confidence and teaches how to organize information
  • Peardeck – students can answer while teachers can simultaneously check each individual’s response
  1. Online Quizzes
  • can take a number of forms, such as multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blanks etc
  • the options can be randomized – each student gets a unique quiz.
  • Socrative – assess on-the-fly at par with the learning speed.
  1. Educational Games
  • fosters the development of non-cognitive skills
  • explore Quizlet and Kahoot for fun and engaging assessments
  1. Open-Ended/Essay Questions
  • tests comprehension ability
  • encourages critical thinking
  • evaluates higher-level learning
  1. Drag-And-Drop Activities
  • both images and text can be incorporated
  • gives a real-world feel helping students solve real world problems
  1. Online Polls
  • captures feedback directly from students
  • gauges engagement levels as well as reasons behind a particular choice.
  1. Independent projects
  • revolve around independent inquiry
  • offers several learning opportunities like research, problem-solving, creativity etc
  1. Self-assessment
  • ask students to reflect on their learning and identify problem areas
  1. E-portfolios
  • a designated portfolio in LMS for each student to submit selected assignments for grading
  1. One-o-one sessions
  • students share their concerns and clarify queries freely
  • teachers can assess learning better and provide individual feedback helps teachers design effective online assessments efficiently with ease, facilitating seamless integration with various tools.

Effective online instructional and assessment strategies

  1. Use different assessment methods to confirm whether work is actually submitted by the student or not.
  1. Communicate clear expectations to students as to what they need to submit and when – provide detailed and specific guidelines and checkpoints.
  1. Encourage peer assessments to enhance learning experiences and build community.
  1. Analyze the data collected to draw meaningful insights like if a particular session needs to be revisited or a certain set of students need support on a specific topic.
  1. Don’t plan assessment for every content standard as it’s infeasible in the online world – differentiate between what is “must to know” and what is “good to know.”

Dear teachers,

Trust yourself and your students!

Use your judgement to evaluate student learning!

Experiment and get creative but use technology mindfully!

Prioritize and design top quality assessments!