Assessment Strategies

Jump to: Principles | Adapting your assessment strategiesExample evaluation schemes | Example assessment strategies | Issues with using online proctored exams | Academic integrity | Intellectual property

 

Principles and Examples for Shifting Your Teaching and Assessments to a Remote Teaching Environment

Teaching and assessment strategies that we traditionally use in a physical classroom, such as quizzes, discussions, and group work, can also be done in pedagogically sound ways online. The principles below are intended to guide you in making decisions about how to adapt your teaching and assessments to the current remote teaching environment. These principles are followed by example evaluation schemes that illustrate the application of the principles.

Consult these tables to see which McGill-supported tools best suit your instructional purpose. For discipline-specific resources, such as online labs, see this page.

 

Principles

1: Keep it simple

Try not to make assumptions about students’ technical knowledge. An online teaching and learning environment may be unfamiliar to you and your students. Everyone needs time to adapt. Keep manageability for you and your students in mind, and whenever possible, select strategies that are familiar to you and your students. In choosing technologies, give priority to McGill supported tools: myCourses and Zoom. Text-based and low-tech options, such as email and online discussion boards, may be the route to go.

2: Promote community and well-being

Help students feel connected and part of a class community. Create a profile in myCourses by adding a short bio or an image to personalize your course and build rapport with your students. Schedule online office hours, which can be by appointment or drop-in, so that students can be in touch with you. Share a communication plan with your students: how they can contact you (e.g., email, online office hours) and what your response time is (e.g., “I will reply to your emails within 48 hours”; “I will post daily updates under Announcements in myCourses.” Also, let students know what your expectations are for them to check email and updates in myCourses. Provide opportunities for students to work together—both synchronously and asynchronously.

The current situation is creating stress and anxiety for all of us. Accept that there is a wide variety of conditions affecting students, instructors and staff: varying living conditions, family responsibilities, time zones, and different levels of comfort with technology, as well as varying access to internet, laptops, and other mobile devices. Please keep everyone’s well-being in mind as you plan assessments in your course. Also, keep in mind that students’ ability to concentrate may be hampered. Since students generally take more than one course, they may be faced with multiple changes.

3: Help students become familiar with online tools

Plan for a number of small, low-stakes assessments throughout the course to allow students to familiarize themselves with the tools and to limit stress should technical difficulties occur. For example, plan several timed quizzes and allow students more time to complete the first quiz.

Consider alternatives to final exams, or remove the final exam and distribute the grades throughout course assignments. If a final exam is necessary, ensure that it builds on skills practiced during the term and doesn’t require students to use a new tool. For example, if students had assignments that called for writing short answers and doing multiple choice questions, the exam should have short answer and multiple choice questions. If the quiz tool will be used for the final exam, allow students to do quizzes throughout the course so they become comfortable using the tool.

4: Provide opportunities for students to engage in learning in a variety of ways and across time zones

Note that all assignments must be submitted no later than April 14, 2020.

Normally, there are restrictions on the value of assignments given during the last 14 calendar days of term. Given the circumstances, flexibility is required; please be mindful of students’ workloads in a compressed term, and that regular course work and assessments do need to be completed before the start of the final exam period even though there will not be in-person final examinations. If an instructor does not currently have a final examination scheduled, flexibility around a due date for final assignments or term papers, into the normal exam period, can be considered.

In determining revised due dates for student work, please consider that: (a) students are not required to work during the two-week period when classes are suspended and therefore deadlines immediately following March 30 are not recommended; (b) access to physical campus resources and premises (e.g., libraries, labs, studios) might not be possible even after March 30; and (c) students will have many assignments due during the first two weeks of April at the same time as they will be preparing for final assessments occurring during the final exam period (even if there will be no sit-down final exams held on campus this term). Deadlines for you to return assessed work with feedback may also need to be extended. 

5: Respect privacy

Students have a right to privacy. Therefore, student participation in live, recorded sessions should be optional. Note that you must inform students if your online meetings will be recorded and give them the option of turning cameras off and muting their microphones.

 

Adapting your assessment strategies

This document offers guidelines to help you embed assessment strategies that promote learning into your remote courses. You are not expected to incorporate all the guidelines; rather, we recommend that you select a small number of strategies that would best support student learning in your course context.

📄  Download the Adapting Your Assessment Strategies for Remote Teaching resource document

 

Example evaluation schemes

The examples are intended to provide inspiration as you plan assessments for your course(s). Each example evaluation scheme is made up of different combinations of assessment strategies. We encourage you to mix and match these strategies to best support student learning in your course(s). Each strategy begins with learning outcomes, is followed by an example assessment type, and an explanation of how this assessment allows students to demonstrate their achievement of the learning outcomes. Each strategy concludes with a description of McGill-supported tools for implementing the assessment.

When making decisions about how your students will demonstrate their learning, always have your course learning outcomes in mind. Depending on the relative importance of the different learning outcomes, you may wish to provide multiple assessment occasions and formats throughout the term.

For more information about McGill-supported tools for teaching, check out TLS’ Tools for Remote Teaching and Assessment resources. 

Learning outcomes

Students will be able to recall basic concepts and definitions.

10 mini quizzes (1.5% each) or 12 quizzes and the best 10 count

Regular quizzes can sustain engagement, and promote review and comprehension of material. Frequent, low-stakes assignments have the potential to promote student well-being as they allow students to become familiar with the assessment type and minimize the stress for each quiz. Provide students with practice opportunities by allowing students multiple attempts for each quiz. In an online setting, regular quizzes can be a substitute for participation grades. Counting the best 10 of 12 quizzes can minimize students’ stress in the event they have to miss a quiz. It can also reduce time instructors spend dealing with student absences.

Tools: Use the Quizzes tool in myCourses to set up quizzes that auto-grade students’ submissions. Quizzes can be linked to the myCourses Grade Book.

15%
Learning outcomes

Students will be able to

  • discuss the benefits and shortcomings of different theoretical models as they apply to real-world problems/actual data.
  • articulate the pros and cons of policy decisions for different stakeholders.
  • make connections between theoretical concepts and ideas discussed in the course, and their own experiences and topics discussed in the news or on social media.
2 short papers (20%, 25%)

Writing short papers encourages students to organize their thoughts on a topic, delve deeper into selected issues, grapple with course material, and practice written communication skills.

Tools: Have students submit their papers using the Assignments tool in myCourses and provide students with oral or written comments through the same tool in myCourses. Use the Rubrics tool in myCourses to create a rubric that you can attach to the assignment.

45%
Learning outcomes

Students will be able to

  • discuss the benefits and shortcomings of different theoretical models as they apply to real-world problems/actual data
  • articulate the pros and cons of policy decisions for different stakeholders
  • make connections between theoretical concepts and ideas discussed in the course, and their own experiences and topics discussed in the news or on social media
Open-book exam

Open-book exams have a set time limit for completion, for example, 3 hours. Allow students 48 hours in which to complete the exam so they have flexibility due to time zone considerations. Students start the exam at a time that is convenient for them and once started, have 3 hours to complete it. Make it clear to students before the exam which materials they are permitted and expected to refer to (e.g., course textbook, class notes, any book online). Also make it clear that consulting other people is not permitted. Use of an honour code statement can be helpful.

Tools: Use the Quizzes tool in myCourses to set up an exam with a time limit and a release window.

40%
Learning outcomes

Students will be able to explain study results and implications to a lay audience.

2 short blog posts (10%, 15%)

Two posts allow students to practice and receive feedback on a first assignment in order to improve for the second.  

Tools: Students submit their blog posts through the Assignments tool in myCourses. The instructor, TA, or Grader provides students with written or oral feedback comments and grades through the Assignments tool in myCourses, which is linked to the myCourses grade book. Alternatively, students submit their blog posts to a Discussion forum for viewing by the whole class. The instructor, TA(s), or grader(s) provide feedback comments and a grade in the Discussion forum, which is linked to the myCourses Grade Book.

25%
Learning outcomes

Students will be able to

  • identify whether claims have been supported with evidence.
  • describe the structure of a blog post.
 Peer feedback on first blog post

By having to comment on the extent to which peers have supported claims and respected the assignment structure, students will develop an awareness of their own ability to meet assignment criteria.

Tools: Assign students to private groups of three in myCourses Discussion forums. Each student provides feedback to the two peers in the group. All students in the group see the feedback. The instructor and TA(s) can access all groups. The instructor, TA(s), or grader(s) provide feedback comments and a grade in the Discussion forum, which is linked to the myCourses Grade Book. Large classes will benefit from using Peergrade, a peer assessment tool that is integrated into myCourses. 

    5%
    Learning outcomes

    Students will be able to explain to a lay audience the science behind how X works. 

    Video demonstration of how X works
    •  Written outline (10%)
    • Practice video (15%)
    • Demonstration showcase: 8-10 minute video (25%)

     Students submit their topic to the instructor for approval to ensure students are working on different topics. The outline creates a structure in which students must plan their work. A low-stakes practice video allows students to become familiar with the technology. It also allows them to receive feedback comments that they can use to improve their work for the final video submission.

    Tools: Students post their outlines to a myCourses Discussion forum. The instructor and TA(s) can post oral or written feedback comments on the outlines. You can set the forum so that students see peers’ outlines once they have posted their own. A grade can also be assigned in the Discussion forum and linked to the myCourses Grade Book. Students submit the practice video using the Video Assignments tool in myCourses. The instructor and TA(s) can post feedback comments at specific places in the video. The demonstration showcase video can be posted in the Discussions tool in myCourses for the whole class to see. The instructor, TA(s) or Graders can provide oral or written feedback comments and grade. The assignment can be linked to the myCourses Grade Book.

    50%
    Learning outcomes

    Students will be able to explain concepts collaborate on a project.

    Learning portfolio

     Students regularly document both process and progress as they prepare their demonstration. Regular documentation helps students keep up-to-date with their course work and is a strategy for fostering academic integrity.

     Tools: Use the Portfolio tool in myCourses.

      20%
      Learning outcomes

      Students will be able to illustrate processes.

      Infographic

      Students who typically work with text-based material practice conveying information concisely through images. Designing infographics can foster creativity.

      Tools: Students can create their infographics using Microsoft Word or PowerPoint and then submit them as PDFs through the Assignments tool in myCourses. The instructor, TA, or Grader provides students with written or oral feedback comments and grades through the Assignments tool in myCourses, which is linked to the myCourses Grade Book. Alternatively, students post their infographics to a myCourses Discussion forum for viewing by the whole class. The instructor, TA(s), or grader(s) provide feedback comments and a grade in the Discussion forum, which is linked to the myCourses Grade Book.  

      20%

      Learning outcomes

      Students will be able to

      • recall information.
      • apply theoretical concepts to real-world problems.
        3 quizzes (10% each)

        Multiple quizzes allow students opportunities for practice and feedback. Quizzes can include a variety of question types (e.g., matching and ordering, multiple choice, short answer, T/F).

        Tools: Use the Quizzes tool in myCourses to set up timed quizzes that can auto-grade students’ submissions.

          30%

          Learning outcomes

          Students will be able to

          • recall information.
          • apply theoretical concepts to real-world problems.
            Take-home exam

            Let students know in the instructions which materials they are permitted and expected to refer to (e.g., course textbook, class notes, any book online). Take-home exams do not have a set time within the assigned window during which they must be completed. However, the exam itself should still be of a length and difficulty that would take approximately 3 hours to complete. Allow students 48 hours to complete the exam so as to address accessibility and time zone considerations.

            Tools: Use the Assignments tool in myCourses and link it to the myCourses Grade Book.

              50%

              Learning outcomes

              Students will be able to

              • design X.
              • orally defend a design choice.
              • do collaborative writing.
              Team project
              •  Proposal and workplan: choice of topic, rationale for choice, division of responsibilities, timeline (10%)
              • Oral presentation (10%)
              • Final written report (20%)

              Having students submit a proposal and workplan provides focus and encourages students to be accountable to one another. Team projects also have the potential to promote community.

              Tools: Students can collaborate using the Groups tool in myCourses and breakout rooms in Zoom. It might be appropriate to plan for collaboration using both tools. Peer assessment of teamwork can be done with Microsoft Forms. Students can submit their outlines and final reports through the Assignments tool in myCourses. For the oral presentation, students can use the Video Assignments tool or record themselves using a smart phone, tablet, or laptop, and share the recording in myCourses with the instructor (using the Assignments tool in myCourses) or the whole class (using the Discussion tool in myCourses). Students can also use Camtasia to record a slide show with audio. "Live" presentations can be done in Zoom.

              40%
              Learning outcomes

              Students will be able to

              • apply theoretical concepts to real-world situations.
              • do collaborative writing.
              3 short written assignments (15% each)

              Provide students with questions or prompts to help them advance the team project (e.g., Find a scholarly article related to the topic of your team project. Discuss how the research described in the article advances knowledge in the topic area.). Students have the option of submitting one of these short written assignments as a group so they can practice their collaborative writing skills.

              Tools: Have students submit their writing through the Assignments tool in myCourses and provide students with oral or written comments through the same tool. Set up the evaluation scheme using the Rubrics tool in myCourses. You can attach the rubric to the assignment and link the assignment to the myCourses Grade Book.

              45%
              Learning outcomes

              Students will be able to

              • draw connection between course content and personal experience.
              • analyze the group’s ability to function as a team.
              5 individual reflection questions/prompts (3% each)

              Reflections can raise students’ awareness not only of what they are learning but also how they are learning. You can assess reflections according to a simple evaluation scheme. Example criteria: question answered completely; response linked to course discussion or personal experience; viewpoints supported by examples.

              1 = submitted on time; fewer than half the criteria met
              2 = most criteria met
              3 = all criteria met

              Tools: Have students submit their written reflections through the Assignments tool in myCourses and provide students with oral or written comments through the same tool. Set up the evaluation scheme using the Rubrics tool in myCourses. You can attach the rubric to the assignment and link the assignment to the myCourses Grade Book.

              15%
              Learning outcomes

              Students will be able to

              • identify relevant points in selected readings.
              • draw connections among ideas.
              8 quizzes (5% each)

              Regular quizzes help students keep up with course readings and maintain engagement with course content. Frequent, low-stakes assignments have the potential to promote student well-being as they allow students to become familiar with the assessment type and minimize the stress for each quiz.

              Tools: Use the Quizzes tool in myCourses to set up short answer response questions. Short answers can be auto-graded in myCourses. The instructor, TA(s), or Grader(s) can provide feedback comments and a grade on written responses (i.e., long answers). The Quizzes tool can be linked to the myCourses Grade Book.

              40%
              Learning outcomes

              Students will be able to

              • identify relevant points in selected readings.
              • support an argument with evidence.
              • demonstrate research and synthesizing skills.
              • draw connections among ideas.
              • provide constructive feedback to peers. 
              Term paper submitted in stages
              • Annotated bibliography (10%)
              • Submission of outline, including working thesis statement, to two peers for feedback (5%)
              • Submission of draft to instructor (3%)
              • Final paper (22%)

              Multi-stage assignments encourage students to develop their ideas incrementally over time and avoid deferring work until the last minute. Asking students to provide evidence of their work is a strategy for promoting academic integrity. You do not have to provide feedback on all stages of the assignment. For example, you can give students a deadline for submitting a first draft and assign 3% of their grade for completion. Asking students to engage in peer feedback can be a way to build community in the class.

                Tools: Students can submit annotated bibliographies, draft papers and final papers through the Assignments tool in myCourses. The instructor, TA(s), or Grader(s) can provide oral and written feedback comments and a grade with the Assignments tool, which can be linked to the myCourses Grade Book. Peer feedback can be set up in myCourses, for example, by using the Groups tool in myCourses and assigning two or more students to each group. Large classes will benefit from using Peergrade, a peer assessment tool that is integrated into myCourses.

                40%
                Learning outcomes

                Students will be able to

                • identify flaws in an argument.
                • draw connections among ideas.
                Participation in two discussions (2 x 10%)

                Online discussion forums require structure. You can set up forums with headings that align with how content will be addressed throughout the course (e.g., Week 1: [topic], Week 2 [topic]). Post specific questions or other prompts for students to address (e.g., What links can you make between this week’s topic and current events? Find one flaw in X’s argument and explain the flaw in 1-2 sentences.). Let students know what constitutes a quality contribution (e.g., it addresses the question, provides support for claims, and adds one new idea). Ask students to respond to a peer’s post to encourage students to read others’ posts and create a conversation. Consider providing students with examples of both good and poor quality posts so that they understand your expectations. Let students know how their contributions will be assessed (e.g., quality of contributions; quantity of contributions).

                  Tools: Use the myCourses Discussions tool. The instructor, TA(s), or Grader(s) can provide oral and written feedback comments and a grade in the Discussion forum, which can be linked to the myCourses Grade Book. Increase student-to-student interaction by allowing students to rate each other’s posts by using a five-star rating system or up/down voting in myCourses.

                  20%

                  Example assessment strategies

                   

                  Issues with using online proctored exams

                  McGill does not recommend the use of online proctored exams, for example, using tools such as Respondus Lockdown, Respondus Monitor or Zoom, for the following reasons:

                  1. There is a serious risk of technical failure due to the necessity for extended, sustained internet access. If something goes wrong, there is no backup. If a student’s WiFi drops out, their computer crashes, etc., there is no way to do the exam in an alternate way.
                  2. Anxiety. In an already stressful situation, this could put students over the edge. A locked down final exam where your cat jumps and sets off a warning flag will cause serious anxiety.
                  3. Students may not have access to laptops, and even if they do, they may not have the permissions needed to install the required software.
                  4. Lockdown only applies to one device, so if students have access to more than one device, they can use those for accessing resources and information.
                  5. Students may be in different time zones, thus creating significant obstacles for those who would be writing in the middle of the night.

                   

                  Academic integrity

                  Foster appropriate student behaviour by discussing academic integrity with your class and by:

                  1. Putting McGill’s academic integrity statement on assignment and exam cover pages: “McGill University values academic integrity. Therefore, all students must understand the meaning and consequences of cheating, plagiarism and other academic offences under the Code of Student Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures” (see www.mcgill.ca/students/srr/honest/ for more information). (Approved by Senate on 29 January 2003)

                     

                    📄 Download the Exam Cover Page template and the Faculty of Science's example Exam Cover Page

                  2. Asking students to agree in writing to an honour code. It is a recommended practice to place statements at the beginning of exams and assignments such as “I will be fair and honest in my coursework. I will neither give nor receive unauthorized aid on any assignments, quizzes, or exams” (Konheim-Kalkstein, Stellmack, & Shilkey, 2008, p. 3). This practice has been shown to reduce the incidence of cheating. When students submit their work, you can also ask them to sign a pledge, such as "I have neither given nor received unauthorized aid on this quiz/exam" (p. 3).
                  Read more:
                  • Konheim-Kalkstein, Y. L., Stellmack, M. A., & Shilkey, M. L. (2008). Comparison of honor code and non-honor code classrooms at a non-honor code university. Journal of College and Character, 9(3). https://doi.org/10.2202/1940-1639.1115 
                  • Siev, S., & Kliger, D. (2019). Cheating in academic exams: A field study. In Dishonesty in Behavioral Economics (pp. 111-140). Academic Press. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-815857-9.00008-X 
                     

                   

                  Intellectual Property

                  Some instructors have voiced concern about the possibility of online lectures/instruction being recorded and then uploaded into the public domain. Please note that your intellectual property rights do not change simply because you are teaching remotely. Consider using the statement below in your courses. We recommend that you state this either at the beginning of your first, your first few, or all of your recorded lectures or instruction. It would also be advisable to communicate this message in writing to your students via myCourses.

                  Please note that this format for the delivery of this course is unusual. It is explained by our current extraordinary circumstances, and aims to allow you, as students, to complete this term with the requisite knowledge for this course, and to succeed in your assessments. I ask for everyone’s collaboration and cooperation in ensuring that this video and associated material are not reproduced or placed in the public domain. This means that each of you can use it for your own personal purposes, but you cannot allow others to use it, by putting it up on the internet or by giving it or selling it to others who will copy it and make it available. Thank you very much for your help with this.

                  Consider adding a statement about copyright of your course materials and posting it as an Announcement in myCourses: 

                  © Instructor-generated course materials (e.g., handouts, notes, summaries, exam questions, etc.) are protected by law and may not be copied or distributed in any form or in any medium without explicit permission of the instructor. Note that infringements of copyright can be subject to follow up by the University under the Code of Student Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures.

                   


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