The Summative Assessment highlights summative assessment practices in the online classroom, and the interrelationship between effective summative activities and continued feedback.
While all teachers need to be able to write good assessments, the scale of online learning makes this especially key. The tests will not just be taken by a class of students but could instead impact students across semesters as the course is copied and offered in the future. Therefore, it is important to learn the traits of effective assessments. Additionally, learning management systems offer detailed data to allow for analyzing of student work on assessments. Teachers must be equipped to interpret this data and adjust assessments as needed.
Whether it is a traditional test or project-based learning, assessments in the online class must be valid, reliable, and secure.
Validity and reliability remain an integral part of the summative assessment, and online instructors must ensure that all assessment meet established criteria and ensure student mastery.
Assessments need to measure what it is the students have learned. If students complete the assessment before learning the material and they still score high, this either means they have already learned the material or they are being assessed over more on general intelligence than specific content.
Multiple choice questions need to have distractor options that seem like reasonable answers to someone who has not learned the material well. Visit the eLearning Coach article Are Your Online Tests Valid? to learn more.
Regardless of whom evaluates an assessment, a student should generally receive the same score. If a student took the same assessment twice in a row, without any other feedback, students should score similarly both times if the assessment is reliable.
After giving an online assessment, check the test reports, statistics, or analytics page to get detailed item analysis. The scores on an assessment should have a high correlation with the overall average in the course.
For assignments with rubrics, consider bringing in another teacher or students for peer grading. The scores others give using the same rubric should be similar to the grade distributions provided.
For more on test reliability, read the eLearning Coach article Are Your Online Tests Reliable?
The following is an example of a report looking at the correlation between quiz score and overall course grade. Note question four in particular. This question likely needs to be revised. With a negative correlation, students who do better on that question do worse on the overall test.
In the example below, take a moment to evaluate discrimination index. This notes how well a question separates the high performers from the low ones. A low index score documents which questions the majority of students answered correctly or incorrectly. This score does not offer the teacher specific information regarding how well students understand the material or the extent a student has mastered the material as compared to others.
How does an online teacher know the student is actually the one doing the work and that the student is not just looking up all the answers? If an assessment can be completed by just looking up answers, it was not well designed initially.
A traditional test in the online environment should utilize test security tools. Here are a few best practices:
As for who is doing the work, one individual student should generally score similarly across assessments. The online teacher becomes well acquainted with the work quality of his or her students just as teachers in a traditional setting.
Some schools automatically invalidate a final exam if it is too many standard deviations from the average going into the final. If after grading student work, a teacher suspects that the student received assistance, consider asking the student to redo the work in a proctored setting. The proctored environment could be as simple as the online teacher watching the student with a webcam, asking a staff member at a local school to oversee a student, or utilizing an outside proctoring agency.
Virginia Commonwealth University’s resource-rich Center for Teaching Excellence houses a very timely Online Teaching and Learning Resource Guide that contains a number of helpful features such as its Formative and Summative Assessment webpage.
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