Teaching Online: ALOTA Part 4: Assessment
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What is this? I'm using the same image above as I did for Teaching!!!

Exactly...Teaching and Assessment go hand in hand, particularly when we look at some of the activities we engage our students in...they are both Teaching and a form of Assessment!

For a long time, however, we have assumed that students learn while they are simply in the presence of knowledge...we know that this is not true, and even when it is, we are still pressed to PROVE IT. As the movie saying goes: "Show me the money!"

Assessment allows us to DEMONSTRATE that our students have attained the LEARNING OUTCOMES that we set forth in the Lesson Plan.

Learning Outcomes

  • Identity the explicit connection between Learning Outcomes and Assessment strategies and activities
  • Create examples of Assessment activities for each Learning Outcome in a Lesson Plan


Explicit Connections

When we discussed the creation of Learning Outcomes in each Lesson Plan, I made it pretty clear that you should limit the number of Learning Outcomes to just a few for each Lesson Plan. The reason for this is mainly that you are going to have to come up with Assessment activities for EACH ONE OF THEM so you don't want to have so many that the Lesson Plan becomes unmanageable.

(Note: If you have a Lesson Plan that MUST have a lot of Learning Outcomes, it might be wise to split up the material into a number of separate Lesson Plans)

The Connection Between Learning Outcomes and Assessments

Remember that when you are actually designing a Lesson Plan you start with the Learning Outcomes and then create the Assessments. There is a very real and very explicit connection between what you are going to ask your students to learn (Learning Outcomes) and how you get them to show it (Assessments).

So you start with your Learning Outcomes!

Basic Types of Assessment

One way in which you may approach the design of Assessments is by exploring the I.O.U. types of Assessment.

Inner - These types of Assessments focus on inner-reflection and application of the material to the student in a personal manner. This can be a valuable tool in producing insight into the material and it makes the material personal and accessible.

Outer - These types of Assessments focus on applying the material to others around them and in work situation. This is likely the most common form of Assessment.

Universal - Sometimes we can design Assessments that look at applying the knowledge on a much broader scale. These assessements take into consideration the diversity of applicaiton to different people, different scenarios, different cultures, and different fields. For example, a counseling theory that is applied to working with someone with depression in a clinical setting may also be useful in dealing with a family member or co-worker that is also depressed.


Here are the Learning Outcomes that I identifies in the previous section, the title of the Lesson Plan that includes these Learning Outcomes is "Lesson 12: Sensation and Perception":

  • Differentiate between sensation and perception through personal awareness and experience (1)
  • Define and provide examples of depth perception (2)
  • Define and provide examples of optical illusions (3)
  • Describe how subliminal messages and self-fulfilling prophecies influence thought processes (4)
  • Explain how cultural differences may influence perception (5)

The task now is to design Assessment activities that will REALLY MEASURE if students have actually attained these Learning Outcomes. For clarity below I have chosen to number the Learning Outcomes above and provide a note below indicating which Assessment activity measures which Learning Outcome.

For this example Lesson Plan I'm going to design a few different activities

Lesson 12 Discussion A

In this discussion I will ask students to share personal experiences which they can relate to both sensation and perception. This will satisfy Learning Outcome 1. The instructions for the discussion would be as follows:

"In this discussion I want you to relate a story from your life which differentiates between sensation and perception. An example might be when you are at home on a cold day. The house may seem cold prior to going outside, but once you are outside for a while and return into the home the house seems much warmer? Provide your own example using basic sensations such as vision, touch, temperature, taste, etc or social situations (where what you heard or saw was not really what was going on!) and discuss the differences between sensation and perception."

Lesson 12 Discussion B

In this discussion I'm going to have students find images on the web that demonstrate depth perception and/or optical illusions. This will satisfy part of Learning Outcomes 2 and 3. The instructions are as follows:

"Search the web for images that depict either "Depth Perception" or "Optical Illusions". Post these images in the discussion board and using the textbook explanations, describe how the image portrays a "Depth Perception" cue or how the image portrays and "Optical Illusion."

Lesson 12 Assessment

In Blackboard the term "Assessment" is used to describe "quizzes". In this quiz I will provide questions for students to answer by typing their statements directly into the quiz interface online. This is different from what Blackboard calls "Assignments" which require the students to format a written paper and send the electronic document to an online "Drop Box". This single assessment will measure the rest of the Learning Outcomes in this sample Lesson Plan. The questions are as follows (and I provide the students with the questions themselves directly in the Lesson Plan so that they can prepare their answers in advance.)

The instructions to the student are as follows:

Please prepare answers to the following questions and then paste those answers into the answer boxes in the Lesson 12 Assessment.

  1. In your own words, define Depth Perception
  2. In your own words, define Optical Illusions
  3. Describe how subliminal messages impact the thought process. (Be sure to provide any references to material you use to support your answer)
  4. Describe how "Self-fulfilling Prophecy" impacts the thought process. (Be sure to provide any references to material you use to support your answer)
  5. Describe how cultural differences may influence perception.

Keep in mind that the Teaching part of the Lesson Plan has gone into some detail and possible examples of each of these concepts...the Bridge between where students are (what they currently know) and where you want them to be (Learning Outcomes).

As you can see, I have used three Assessment activities to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate their new knowledge and prove that they "got it"!

Other Examples

There are many, many ways that you can have students show what they know. In fact, while you are designing your class you might write a Learning Objective that is simply too difficult to measure or, when you look closely, is not REALLY what you want them to know or do!

This process is different than the tradition design of a course being a set of standard assignments such as Midterm, Final, Research Paper types of assessment. This model provides smaller and more focused assessments based on the Learning Outcomes for each Lesson Plan.

You can still use exams as aggregate measures of many Learning Outcomes across many Lesson Plans, but the smaller, more concentrated Assessments tend to be more reliable and valid.

Here is a list (again, not exhaustive) of different kinds of Assessment activities. Remember, the TYPE of Assessment depends on what you are trying to measure.

  • Multiple Choice Quizzes
  • Essay Question Quizzes
  • Exams
  • Essays
  • Research Papers
  • Reflection Papers
  • Online Discussions
  • Writing Samples
  • Presentations (audio/video/slide show)
  • Group Discussions
  • Group Projects
  • Service-Learning (community service)
  • Story Telling
  • Biography/Autobiography
  • Pictorial Essays
  • Creating Graphs and Tables
  • Writing Lesson Plans (yeah, get your students to write their own Lesson Plans!)
  • Peer Reviews
  • Peer Tutoring
  • Leading Discussions
  • Participating in Field Research
  • Book Reviews
  • Article Reviews
  • Web Site Reviews
  • Conference Attendance and Reflection
  • Concept Maps
  • Artwork
  • Musical Compositions
  • Poetry
  • Drama
  • Developing Learning Tools (such as summaries and mnemonic tools)
  • Debates
  • Creating a Model
  • Design and Experiment
  • See the balloons in the top image!