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Assessments for online courses


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  • 1. Presentation to the Legal Studies Faculty By: Michele Lamontagne
  • 2.  Kaplan Faculty are all specialists in their fields Most of us are not trained teachers We are all working to better the program As part of our Professional Development program and to meet accreditation standards, we must work to uniformly assess the program and align our learning objectives.
  • 3.  The reputation of our program is dependent on our students entering the workplace with the requisite knowledge and superior performance standards. Setting learning objectives will insure that each graduate meets these standards. Learning objectives must be set in the following categories: declarative knowledge, procedural knowledge and problem solving. (Oosterhof, Conrad & Ely, 2008).
  • 4.  “Any knowledge that can be expressed verbally, such as factual information and explanations of principles, procedures and trends” (Oosterhof et. al,2008, p.16). Learning objectives for declarative knowledge will include: ◦ Law terms and proper use of vocabulary ◦ Research sources and their hierarchy ◦ Civil and criminal procedural rules ◦ Understanding of judicial system in government
  • 5.  “Knowledge that involves doing something, such as making discriminations, understanding concepts, and applying rules that govern relationships” (Oosterhof, 2008, p.16). Learning objectives for procedural knowledge will include: ◦ Determining jurisdiction elements for a case ◦ Distinguishing between a subpoena and a summons ◦ Organizing documents for depositions ◦ Completing electronic filing of court documents
  • 6.  “Involved when one has a goal and has not yet identified a means for reaching that goal; requires use of existing declarative and procedural knowledge” (Oosterhof, 2008, p.16). Learning objectives for problem solving will include: ◦ Procedure for maintenance of privileged documents in multidistrict litigation ◦ Organization of system to check potential client conflicts
  • 7.  Learning objectives should logically flow from the course curriculum. In setting objectives, follow the tasks to be learned in the order of the course. Learning objectives should actively express what a student will learn or be able to do by the end of the course. For example “help student to …”; “student will identify …”; student will discover the …; “introduce student to …” (Mihram, 2007).
  • 8.  Opportunity to assess student outcomes through observation. An example of this assessment would be having a student participate in a mock trial. Four components of Performance Objectives: Type of capability – information, discrimination, concept or rule Behavior – learning outcome must be observed by a specific behavior Situation – context in which the behavior is exhibited Special Conditions –must be present to show the objective from the learner’s behavior (Oosterhof,2008).
  • 9.  Use multiple measures of student performance Structure authentic assessments that are based in real life Assessments must be designed with the question in mind –What do we want our students to know and do at the end of the course? Assignments should have explicit, clear directions and grading criteria (Palloff & Pratt, 2009).
  • 10.  Assessments must be constructed to align with the outcomes of the course. Assessments should meet the higher learning levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy – application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation. By reviewing the different levels of learning, instructors can create assessments that “measure outcomes appropriate to the course level” (Palloff & Pratt, 2009, p.23).
  • 11.  Formative assessments should be designed to give a student a better understanding of the standards required of them in a particular discipline (Yorke, 2003). In the legal studies curriculum, the formative assessment must evaluate student performance as it relates to an understanding of the applicable rules and procedures. For example, a multiple choice test that asks the student to pick the best answer in light of particular facts would assess understanding of the rules.
  • 12.  Examine what a student has learned over a longer period of time and review overall application of the course. Students examine a wide spectrum of rules and concepts across several disciplines in light of their own real life expectations. Performance would be measured on how well they apply the rules to the plan and their ability to create a cohesive strategy. A clear rubric for this assessment would be essential for the student to gauge their performance against that expected by the instructor (Palloff & Pratt, 2009).
  • 13.  Allow the instructor to observe student skills in action Good at evaluating procedural knowledge particularly application of rules and problem solving These assessments evaluate the learning process not just the end product. Scoring these assessments can be challenging since a “holistic judgment” is made. Rubrics are critical to guide students for the overall task and expectation (Oosterhof, 2008).
  • 14.  Students need to be empowered learners for both learning and assessments. Need to include activities with discussions, collaborative activities and self-reflection Peer review and evaluation will help students develop good feedback skills. Reflective journals can assist students in evaluating their own performance over the entire course. (Palloff & Pratt, 2009).
  • 15.  Online assessments go beyond standard test and quizzes. Instructors are encouraged to use additional methods for student involvement and to measure learning that require student reflection. Instructors should provide opportunities to demonstrate understanding through activities that allow a student to apply a concept to situations. This will assess a student’s abilities beyond rote understanding. Blogs, wikis and posts allow students to actively participate with classmates and obtain instructor feedback. Reflective Journals and portfolios permit students to self assess their program advancement (Palloff & Pratt, 2009).
  • 16.  Assessments should strive at the course level to measure the six levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy. Knowledge and comprehension can be measured through traditional, objective criteria. (formative assessments) However, the remaining levels, application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation will require assessment through performance evaluation criteria. (Palloff & Pratt, 2009).
  • 17.  Learner feedback can be utilized as peer review, self-reflection, and assessment/instructor feedback. No matter how the student input is to be incorporated, it needs to be closely regulated by the instructor. Peer review should follow a close rubric to be sure that the responses are focused and useful. Reflective Journals are helpful for self assessment and are usually shared with the instructor. Course and instructor evaluations are essential to obtain information about particular assessments and their usefulness to the student. (Palloff & Pratt, 2009).
  • 18.  Student assessment should contain a component for learner feedback. These responses should be on a discussion board so that the instructor can monitor responses and intervene if necessary. Instructor should set expectations for the feedback: ◦ Responds to a question ◦ Reflects on what is being discussed ◦ Move the discussion in a new direction ◦ Ask a question or reflection for further thinking (Palloff & Pratt, 2009).
  • 19.  Can be created to measure a single task or complex-task performance There must be a specific capability to be assessed Guidelines include: ◦ Describing the particular task ◦ Is the focus on the process or product ◦ Identify skills that will be verified ◦ Set clear instructions (Oosterhof et. al,2008).
  • 20.  Challenges are present when the instructor cannot observe student behavior. Ambiguity in the assessment can be a major obstacle to student success. Clear directions and use of rubrics assist students in meeting instructor expectations. Increasing the number of observations of student work will increase the opportunity to measure student competencies. Scoring plans will assist instructor in measuring more complex summative and performance assessments. Feedback also plays an important role in grading student performance. Grading papers and tests require more time from the instructor while a comment during a discussion or experiment can be immediate. (Yorke, 2003).
  • 21.  Comparison with a Model – student work is compared to a sample or model completed by the instructor Checklist - provides a listing of crieria that the student must meet Rating Scales – similar to a checklist but it supplies a rating of how well the student completed the task Scoring Rubrics – supplies a range of how well the student completed an activity but allows several skills to be assessed at one time. (Oosterhof et. al, 2008).
  • 22.  When assessments are complete the next step is to determine if the assessment met the learning objectives developed at the beginning of the course. Use multiple measures including all feedback processes to review the assessments. Check to see if the assessment practice is reliable, valid and useful. (Palloff & Pratt, 2009).
  • 23.  We must continue to evaluate the tools for assessment and whether they support the curriculum. As an ongoing task we must review: ◦ Student surveys ◦ Alumni surveys ◦ Employer feedback and student job placement ◦ Professional standards ◦ Student performance on standardized tests (Palloff & Pratt, 2009). Then the process starts again!
  • 24.  Mihram, D. (2007). Assessment tools. 07_Final_.ppt Oosterhof, A., Conrad, R., & Ely, D. (2007). Assessing learners online. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson. Palloff, R., & Pratt, K. (2009). Assessing the online learner. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley and Sons. U.S. Department of Education, Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development. (2009). Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning: A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies, Washington, D.C. based- practices/finalreport.pdf Yorke, M. (2003). Formative assessment in higher education: Moves towards theory and the enhancement of pedagogic practice. Higher Education, 45(4), 477.