The three primary roles of assessment in all higher education courses, face-to-face, blended and online are:

Quotation

We may not like it, but students can and do ignore our teaching; however, if they want to get a qualification, they have to participate in the assessment processes we design and implement.

Sally Brown (2004)
Higher education consultant

  1. Diagnostic – determine a student's pre-knowledge and identify strengths and weaknesses.
  2. Formative – provide a student with feedback on their progress during a course.
  3. Summative – estimate performance at the end of a course and 'grade' student's work (Reeves & Herrington, 2009).

In this unit we will consider how principles of good assessment feedback practice can be applied to an online course.

Assessment feedback practice

At the heart of any assessment process is constructive feedback that enables students to achieve the learning outcomes for a course (Assessment Reform Group, 2002). Too often the focus is on 'high stakes' summative assessment practices at the expense of providing students with ongoing feedback about their growth and development.

summative assessment

Assessment of learning intended to be used to evaluate a learner's knowledge of a topic at a particular point in time.

The purpose of this unit is to demonstrate how the Community of Inquiry (CoI) framework can be applied to online learning environments in order to create meaningful assessment activities that align with intended learning outcomes.

Take a moment now to reflect on your experience of assessment feedback practice.

In the following activity, consider the question and make note of your response in the space provided before clicking 'View feedback' to see some thoughts based on Nicol and Macfarlane-Dick's (2006) seven principles of good feedback practice.
Consider the question and make a note of your thoughts, then continue on to reflect on some feedback.

Useful links

Conditions under which assessment supports students' learning...

Your context

Be sure to refer to your institution's assessment policies...

Useful links

Nicol, D.J. & Macfarlane- Dick, D. (2006) 'Formative assessment and self-...

PROGRAMME | Teaching Online
COURSE | Being a successful online teacher
UNIT | 5 : Using assessment in online teaching
PAGE TITLE | Principles of online assessment

In your experience, what are the key characteristics of good assessment feedback practice?


Feedback:

Seven principles of good assessment feedback practice identified by Nicol and Macfarlane-Dick (2006) are:

  1. Helps clarify what good performance is (goals, criteria, standards)
  2. Facilitates the development of self assessment and reflection in learning
  3. Delivers high quality information to students about their learning
  4. Encourages teacher and peer dialogue around learning
  5. Encourages positive motivational beliefs and self esteem
  6. Provides opportunities to close the gap between current and desired performance
  7. Provides information to the teacher that can be used to help shape their teaching.
Source: Nicol & Macfarlane-Dick (2006). Copyright © Society for Research into Higher Education,
reprinted by permission of Taylor & Francis Ltd., www.tandfonline.com,
on behalf of The Society for Research into Higher Education.
Portfolio icon

You may wish to copy your responses and the principles presented in this activity into your Teaching Online portfolio for future reference.

You may wish to copy your responses and the principles presented here into your Teaching Online portfolio for future reference.

Nicol and Macfarlane-Dick's (2006) assessment principles clearly align with the concept of an educational community of inquiry, which is 'composed of a group of individuals who collaboratively engage in purposeful critical discourse and reflection to construct personal meaning and confirm mutual understanding' (Garrison, 2011, p.15). When such a community takes place in an online learning environment there are a variety of opportunities for self, peer, and teacher assessment feedback.


Quotation

We may not like it, but students can and do ignore our teaching; however, if they want to get a qualification, they have to participate in the assessment processes we design and implement.

Sally Brown (2004)
Higher education consultant

What do you think of this statement by Sally Brown? How does your response reflect your approach to designing assessments for your online course?

Useful links

Your context

Be sure to refer to your institution's assessment policies.

Useful links