9 points to remember when building your online assessments

At a recent ISU Online Learning Community, three faculty discussed how they tackle assessments in their online courses while upholding academic integrity that focuses on their students and instructional objectives. As you begin to build your online final exams, consider these tips:

Elizabeth Stegemoller (Kinesiology) shared,

  • Remember, not all students are as tech-savvy as you may think. So, step by step instructions on how to navigate various online learning tools is beneficial. This action also eliminates a large portion of emails on this topic.
  • Accommodations are challenging. Have options prepared in advance, just in case, because students often make requests at the last minute. Also, know that some requested accommodations are not feasible given your class makeup, and this is o.k. Students will understand if you clarify your rationale.
  • Let things go and focus on what you want students to learn in your course. Reduce activities if needed but maintain your expectations for what they need to learn. Communicate your expectations and trust that students will do the right thing (academic honesty).

Monica Lamm and Karen Burt (both from Chemical and Biological Engineering) shared,

  • Communicate clear expectations during the assessment. Ask students, “Given the established ground rules for the assessment and the fact that no one is watching you, what choices are you making? How are you conducting yourself?”
  • Have students sign an academic integrity pledge. As an example, use this language, “I understand that academic integrity is expected of all Iowa State University students at all times. My submission of this assessment for grading certifies that I have read and understood the ground rules. By my signature below, I pledge that I have neither given nor received unauthorized aid on this assessment.”
  • Build critical reflection within each assessment. For example, “This question must be answered to receive any credit for the rest of the assessment. Reflecting on how you completed this assessment, in less than one page, describe how you adhered to the academic integrity standards of this course, the ethical standards of the Am. Inst. of Chemical Engineers, and the dignity of the profession. Be specific in your response.”

Sayali Kukday(Genetics, Development and Cell Biology) shared,

  • Keep it Simple. Avoid making drastic changes to your assessments. A sudden radical change in the format and nature of assessments might add to student anxiety. Maintain consistency as best as you can.
  • Be Flexible. Make appropriate adjustments to grading policies and incorporate flexibility in terms of providing extra credit activities that still achieve your learning objectives, but may take some pressure off of your students.
  • Communicate expectations. Be transparent about how you expect your students to maintain academic integrity when completing formative and summative assessments.
For next steps in planning your final exams, use the following resources: