Education Beyond Borders

How to Successfully and Accurately Assess Student Online Learning

Back in the times when we, the dinosaurs, went to school, it was all about the pen-and-paper pop quizzes. Tests and quizzes were all there was, interrupted by the occasional verbal quizzes. Much to the joy of present-day students, those days are long gone, and pen-and-paper quizzes are slowly becoming obsolete. Instead, teachers are giving their students a chance to answer questions using hand signals, thumbs up or down, but also online polls and chat boxes if the work is being done online. If you’re a teacher currently at a loss on how to successfully and accurately assess your students’ online learning progress, we’ve got a few ideas.

Vibe checks

Everyone occasionally zones out and stops paying attention, kids and adults alike, and it’s a good idea to check in with your students every once in a while. Ask them a simple question and wait for everyone’s response. For example, you can ask if everyone got that explanation, and if they did, they can give thumbs up/down, drop an emoji in the chat, or raise a hand in their video box. If it looks like everyone could use a short break, check in with them by asking a funny “would you rather?” question (i.e. Would you rather go to school under water or in a tree house?). They can also raise their fingers to show how well they understand the topic – one finger meaning they are still grasping the concept, and five fingers meaning you can go ahead because they got it all.

Use analytics

Your job as an educator isn’t just to do the lecture and provide the materials but also to stay on top of how each and every one of your learners are progressing. You can do this by routinely checking the analytics of your course. Try to find an RTO student management system suited for teachers with a lot of online students. This kind of analytics provides you with useful and accurate data about learner performance during different stages of your course. Not just that, but it can also give you a heads up on what their learning will look like in the future. This will help you identify the learners who are struggling with your course material, and in turn, this will allow you to intervene in time. You can then offer and provide the assistance they might need so that they can be successful during the rest of the course.

Peer evaluations

Virtual classes are a blessing for some, while others might struggle to keep up. This is because some students thrive in traditional classrooms and enjoy interacting with their peers on a regular base. When students are learning outside the traditional classroom, it’s a good idea to encourage and foster relationships between them. If you have younger students, you can assign each of them a virtual buddy for the duration of the course, or perhaps just for the week. You could also pair off students at random and have them talk to each other while assessing each other's learning. If you’re teaching via Zoom, place students in breakout rooms so they can talk. You could also give each of them a general rubric or perhaps even use the TAG feedback process.

Learn through games

Incorporating game elements into your classes is the ultimate way to keep everyone engaged while also encouraging them to interact with each other. There are many different apps you can use to quiz your students about the course material: Quizlet is very popular among teachers and students when learning new vocabulary, as you can easily set up flashcards which pose questions. Kahoot! is another popular app that lets students collect points when they give the right answer, but the time to answer is limited, adding to the excitement. The good thing is that these activities can either be done by the entire class or in pairs.

Act out real life scenarios

With the majority of students already familiar with Zoom video conferencing, you can use it to your advantage and act out reality-based mock interviews, scenarios, as well as dialogues, which will, in turn, equip students with the useful know-how they can use later on in their lives. Plenty of students will have to deal with more future courses, practicums, and internships, and mock scenarios will help put their minds at ease about the future. The best thing is that you, as a lecturer, will be able to assess their skills and knowledge in a casual environment. The feedback you provide them will stick for a long time because they will remember the life-like scenarios they’ve been through.

There are so many new and exciting ways to do formative as well as formal assessments in virtual classrooms that it’s a wonder some teachers are at a loss. These combinations of formal and informal assessments are a great way for teachers to check how far their students have come in their lessons. When teachers are in tune with their student's progress, they can adapt and adjust their teaching and grading to ensure everyone is on the same page.

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