2.3. Assessment Planning

After establishing learning goals, the second step in the course design process is to determine acceptable evidence that will demonstrate student progress toward each learning goal (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005). Since you will most likely have some remote students in your class, you’ll need to rethink your traditional exam structures (Mateo & Sangrà, 2007). We suggest that, when possible, you create alternative assessments that are accessible and fair for all remote and in-person students by following these 3 steps:

Step 1: Rethink the format and number of assessments you use.

  • In place of a timed, proctored final examination, would a term paper, project, take-home test, oral examination, research proposal, or other assessment type be a suitable substitute? Could more frequent, small, low stakes assessments take the place of a single, large, high-stakes assessment? 
  • The Academic Articles (3.2.1) state that “undergraduate courses require a final summative assessment, such as a written examination, term paper or project, take-home test, or oral examination,” and that this assessment must count for between 20% and 50% of a student’s final grade.
  • Consider, when applicable, these three overall alternative assessment re-design principles:
    • shifting assessment from lower levels (remember & understand) of Bloom’s Taxonomy toward upper levels (apply, analyze, evaluate, and create) of Bloom’s Taxonomy
    • redesigning questions (where feasible) from right-or-wrong multiple-choice questions to open-ended prompts that ask students to apply their knowledge by focusing on process, performance, or a product.
    • allowing partial credit when possible.

Step 2: Develop assessment administration/submission protocols that will be accessible and fair for both in-person and remote students. 

  • When possible, develop assignments/assessments with multiple milestones (e.g. a topic proposal and an outline for a final paper) that keep students on track and reduce the likelihood of academic dishonesty.
  • Be clear about your expectations. 
    • Is an exam open book/open notes?
    • Do you expect a project to be done independently, or are students encouraged or allowed to collaborate?
    • Remind the students of the honor code, tell them if you’ll be using a tool like Turnitin or Sakai to check for originality, and use the conversation as an aid to help them learn about citations, excessive quotations, and more.  Then, trust them. 
  • Be clear about the timing. 
    • Synchronous & time-limited exams make it slightly more difficult to cheat.
    • Time-limited exams with a rolling window may be more accommodating of student lives and time zones.
    • Take-home exams may be more equitable across students.
  • Communicate these expectations clearly to your students  

Step 3: Choose which technology would serve your assessment goals.

  • It is helpful to plan a low or no-stakes practice opportunity for students to use and be comfortable with a platform before an actual high stakes exam or presentation. Consult with the OIT’s Teaching and Learning Technology (TLT) group to figure out which tool and feature best fits you and your students. Note: The three most popular (and supported) campus assessment technologies are:
    • Sakai (specifically the Assignments/TurnItIn, Honor Code Pledge, Test & Quizzes tools)
    • Gradescope (especially the auto grader and rubrics)
    • Zoom (try private chat as a system for questions to the instructor during an exam)

Interested in learning more? See alternative exam examples from Notre Dame faculty.