If you’re accustomed to teaching in-person, I’m sure hybrid or online teaching has required some changes to your lessons. At first glance, the modalities of synchronous online classrooms and in-person classrooms may seem at odds. However, many types of assessments (e.g., exams, essays, quizzes, discussions) can be used for both synchronous online and face-to-face (f2f) classes with some adaptation!
Let’s consider the assessments that have not changed. Many summative and formative assessments used in the f2f context only need some digitization for the same effectiveness in the synchronous online classroom. These assessments include: surveys, discussion boards, pre-tests/post-tests, papers, projects, portfolios, quizzes, and tests. When choosing the platform, consider (1) the user experience (for both you and your students) and (2) how the content/data will be used to inform your teaching, and (3) assessing whether students have reached their learning outcomes. When possible, use platforms that are familiar to you and your students in order to lower cognitive load. For example, most students and instructors are already familiar with Canvas and Zoom, which both have options for surveys in the form of ungraded quizzes and polls, respectively. How the data will be used determines whether to choose Canvas or Zoom. With synchronous online courses, quick check-ins are best used “in the moment” with Zoom polls.
For the immediate assessments that are different in the two learning contexts, many techniques may be smoother in the online classroom compared to the f2f one. If your students have their cameras off to prevent lag, it could be tough to read faces in the room to gauge understanding. Quick reactions (e.g., thumbs up, hand raising) in Zoom are a great way to check the temperature of your class. For mid-length, just-in-time assessments, consider having students using the annotate feature in Zoom to respond to a passage or image with your share-screen function. For group work, breakout rooms in Zoom and a shared Google doc help create an interactive space and a way to document learning for you to review later.
For a longer discussion of the techniques introduced here, take a look at the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning (CIRTL). CIRTL is a network of many institutions across the nation that creates content and workshops to train instructors to enhance undergraduate education. Check out CIRTL’s video on YouTube and their upcoming events.
The CITL encourages you to share this information with your friends and colleagues. Interested in learning more about assessing student learning? Consider attending a CITL workshop or contact our office for an individual consultation.