Considering the complex and rigorous academic environment nowadays, assessment has now become an essential aspect of a learning course. Today’s assessment is not just about how much students know but it is more about how well they know. This is also referred as Qualitative eLearning assessment that assists in evaluating the knowledge and proficiency of online learners.
This assessment can be done in two ways. It can be done as a part of ongoing eLearning activities and teaching throughout the year, also known as formative assessment, or at the end of some particular and predetermined time in the academic year, also known as summative assessment.
When you use different evaluation tools to measure the students’ achievement, it is not only indicative of individual student progress but it also helps in measuring how good your learning program is working. It tells you if the course is successfully fulfilling the learning objectives at all levels.
The Innovative Assessment Design
Traditional evaluation methods fail to evaluate the students’ achievement in terms of understanding. To mention the worst, many reports conclude that traditional, outdated and standardized assessment methods give rise to the following issues:
- Drill and practice;
- Rote learning;
- Learning without inquiry-based;
- The omission of content that cannot be evaluated in existing test format.
For this reason, there is a dire need for qualitative and innovative eLearning measurement of students’ achievement. It is the assessment strategy that focuses on quality over quantity. When you incorporate qualitative eLearning assessment in the online course, it works beyond scratching the surface of eLearning course and lets you gauge the true depth of students’ learning.
Let us have a look at some smart ways to gauge students’ achievement. These methods also motivate and encourage students to work hard, focus on self-improvement and to strive more.
Innovative Ways to Measure Students’ Achievement
Here are the smart ways to evaluate the student’s progress and level of understanding on an eLearning platform:
With the technological advancement, the eLearning, as well as evaluation of students’ achievement, is done using different digital platforms and devices. To provide learners with a real-life experience and to give them a chance to fully apply their learning skills and resources, task-based simulations are used as the qualitative assessment strategy.
Simulation provides experiential and practical knowledge. In this assessment method, a learner gets a chance to make the most of their skills and resources to fulfill a given task while being in a safe realistic/virtual environment.
In other words, there are no real-world risks involved while proficiency can accurately be gauged. However, an accurate assessment is only possible when the simulation includes relevant images, background sounds, the right equipment, and software.
For instance, if you want to gauge student on how they use their skills in an emergency situation or under pressure, the simulation must mimic every aspect of that scenario.
This is an eLearning assessment form that enables learners to dig deeper into their understanding and formulate a response to fix a scenario then choosing an answer from a predefined one. This approach is the opposite of closed-ended questions. The best part of this assessment method is that it lets learners analyze a situation from all angles and stimulate them to apply all learned concept to reach the final answer.
To reach the final answer, in their minds, they walk through different problems and solutions that build their communication, critical thinking and smart reasoning skills. Usually, these questions contain words like how, why, what, requiring longer and detailed perspective of the students. This assessment approach offers creative freedom.
Most of the times, this type of assessment help students to let go of their believes and assumptions which hold them back. To compile accurate data or to streamline the assessment process, an instructor can also develop a rubric.
One on One Sessions
Even if you take tests, quizzes or design different smart exercises for the evaluation of students’ achievement, the significance of the direct interaction between learners and students cannot be neglected. In an eLearning scenario, this one on one interaction can be in the form of audio and video teleconference session. This could also be in the form of online chat.
This is also like an on-going assessment where you gauge the student’s understanding while providing them solutions or feedback in the real time. It helps encouraging students and in assisting them with certain improvement or problematic areas.
Encourage students to make use of their strengths and recognize weaknesses. Offer them supplemental learning resources. To make one on one session successful, prepare a list of question to judge the student's knowledge. You can also host live webinars that will help students to interact with each other and discuss the subject. Regardless if we speak of the traditional classroom setup or online learning, one on one session is the most impactful way to assess while solving students’ learning concerns.
Online Forums and Discussion Groups
Nothing could be more impactful for students’ learning than sharing ideas, exploring subjects and discussing out details to improve their comprehension at a single platform. The benefits of discussion groups and online forums are part of every industry as it is one of the best ways to develop a deeper understanding of a subject.
In fact, meaningful discussion occurs naturally on an online platform where some learners improve their learning while others reveal their knowledge. To assess the knowledge of students, instructors can use this platform to post questions or problem-solving scenarios. Instructors can also make participation in these online discussions mandatory. In this method of assessment, instructors’ best tool is to observe students activities and contribution, silently.
Monitor which students are active participants in discussion groups and which don’t participate. Sometimes, students who do not participate in such online forums are not always the ones having lack of knowledge but they might also be the ones who avoid social activities or interactions.
Group Projects and Peer-Based Feedbacks
Just like group activities or exercises, group or collaborative projects are also a smart technique to evaluate students’ attitude, knowledge, and understanding of the subject, perceptions, and others.
You may also incorporate peer-based eLearning feedback to receive qualitative data for assessment. The best way is to divide the students into groups and provide them with a prompt or topic as their project. This could be anything that requires group work like a video presentation. Students must be asked to create the finished product and solve the challenges involved in the project.
However, the activity that set apart this assessment method from a basic group project activity is that students must observe their peers. For this, instructors can also provide them with a questionnaire or checklist that students must fill during the project. For instance, which student contributed the most?
What are the weak areas and strengths of each student? To encourage students and to ensure their maximum participation, clear out activity guidelines in advance and let students know that they are being assessed individually and by other students.
Scenario-Based Assessment and Case Studies
This is not a new method of assessment but it is an inevitable one regardless if you are in a traditional classroom setup or conducting an online course. A problem-solving case study stimulates their critical and analytical thinking. This is one of the best ways to put students’ skills or learning to test.
Case studies are part of every kind of learning all around the world. This is more like a basic version of the task-based stimulation. Case studies involve real-world examples that students must resolve using the learned skills and knowledge. An instructor must develop case studies that would allow the student to brainstorm the solution. It is not just about yes/no answer or to choose an answer from pre-determined answers.
A case study is about reaching a logical conclusion by taking well-thought steps. The students must show their understanding and explain how they reached a conclusion and what makes them believe it to be the best approach. In brief, case studies enable instructors to measure the level of thought process put in by the student in reaching the end results. That is; what strategy they followed and how they utilized their knowledge in the best possible manner. It is one of the most effective ways to gauge students’ level of understanding and progress throughout the learning course.
Qualitative Assessment is Better than Quantitative Assessment
To make the best assessment strategy to measure students’ achievement, you must include a variety of methods. Make the most of technological advancement and a vast array of online resources to develop innovative and smart scenarios for students. Keep a learner-centered approach as this will help to address various learning needs of the students.
The focus of your assessment should be on performance. This will assist in getting into the online learning essence. When you incorporate different learning methods and evaluate the performance of students before, during and after the learning course, it not only help in determining if the skills or knowledge of your students has improved but it also indicate the effectiveness of your online strategy.
To design an effective online assessment:
- Design a learner-centered assessment which includes self-reflection;
- Include and design grading rubrics to measure contributions to the discussion and for projects, collaboration, and assignments;
- Use assessment methods that perfectly fit the context and properly align with students’ learning objectives;
- Design assessment that is easy to understand, clear and perfect for an online learning environment.
One of the smartest ways to assess the students’ achievement is to use the previous feedback as the assessment tool. Once you know what didn’t work last time for a student, it will help you form new quizzes or assessment material to gauge the progress of students. Smart instructors use previous feedback technique to assess the effectiveness of their eLearning course. This will help ascertain what teaching methods or strategies they must use to improve students’ knowledge and understanding to meet the learning objectives.
So use any of the above discussed smart assessment tools to measure the students’ achievement or use the combination of these methods to develop a perfect and accurate assessment strategy for students. This will help you create a more personalized assessment strategy, keeping in mind the learning needs of students. A good assessment method is the one that not only helps you accurately measure the students’ achievement but also enable students to put their knowledge in the best possible manner.