Assessment design in an online environment


Recently an assignment got me thinking about what it is to work individually when you are in an online environment. When I was in my undergraduate it was very clearly explained to us during lectures what constituted academic dishonesty. This included having another student read your work prior to submission–but not in all cases. There were also projects that involved peer editing or group work. In some cases collaboration was encouraged in some cases it was not. There was a list of policies presented to us in each syllabus at the beginning of the course. However, nothing prevented students from gathering in the library or computer labs to talk over their assignments. There was also class time or office hours if you needed the support of the instructor.

With online learning things may be a little different. The library is social networking and the teacher’s office is through email. And areas that may be considered dishonest can become a little grey. After all the communication is written, and so copy and pasting sections to which you are referring to…Isn’t that getting help from other students? In order to avoid this I think it is helpful for the instructor or instructional designer to embed the expectations on individual and collaborative assignments, because policy can be overlooked or misunderstood. 

 Tony Bates on cheating: “Cheating is often the result of a poor educational process or experience. Once again, this comes down to the distinction between learning as transferring information vs learning as a developmental process. If, as I do, you believe education is a developmental process, it is the student in the end who loses from cheating, because they have missed the point of the exercise, which is self development and growth.”

I leave you with a very entertaining article written by a man who is said to “be writing your students work”. 

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3 thoughts on “Assessment design in an online environment

  1. Indeed learning is richer when you are exploring and discovering as opposed to obtaining the answers without exploration in some manner. In the latter case, you discover a lot less and therefore you learn less. So, if cheating can produce efficient grades, it will not produce greater learning. But at the end of it all, it will depend on the outcome an individual student is looking for, i.e. learning or grades.

    • That’s so true Fatima the trouble is I find that so much importance is put on grades that it becomes difficult to break out of the external motivation positive-feedback loop. At least, it remains a struggle for me. Thanks for commenting!

  2. My pleasure, Danielle. You are absolutely right the much emphasis is often put on grades in most settings. However, we are to advocate that a cultural shift is much needed to undo that, i.e. less and less emphasis to grades and marks should be there. I still see a benefit or advantage to some means of assessment or evaluation so a learner can receive some feedback on their performance, but I do not like grades to be a definite indicator of success or non-success. I think improvements should be measured/evaluated/assessed in a comparative manner, i.e. what was the performance before and what is it now after the experience, i.e. pre-test, post-test type of things. Or… simply general feedback on areas that appear very positive and those needing attention.

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