How do I address common concerns with assessment in online courses?

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Common Concern #1: How can I become more comfortable managing online discussions and keep students engaged?

  • Set explicit rules and expectations for online discussion etiquette, ensure instructor role is well defined.
  • Use LMS to split large classes into smaller groups, assign roles and responsibilities to students to facilitate discussion.
  • Use a variety of communication options (e.g. Collaborate UE, VoiceThread).
  • Ensure expectations and evaluations for the quality and quantity of participation is well defined.
  • You can also check our our page on using online discussion for building a community of inquiry.

Common Concern #2: How can assessments be designed and adapted for online learning?

  • Use a variety of assessments to evaluate diverse activities (interactive quizzes, discussions, reflections).
  • Use a variety of large group, small group, and individual work experiences.
  • Use synchronous and asynchronous learning activities.
  • You can also see our page on assessing students online
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Common Concern #3: How can I minimize online marking, yet provide students with appropriate feedback?

  • Use clearly defined rubrics and grading criteria.
  • Use self-marking quizzes in the LMS to decrease grading load, encourage self-evaluation.
  • Use peer evaluations.

Common Concern #4: How can I prevent students from cheating in online courses?

  • Use diverse activities and assessment strategies.
  • Use Turnitin to check for plagiarism.
  • Use Collaborate UE for real-time evaluations (i.e. oral exams).
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Western eLearning Support – questions/consultations? Contact us via email.
Western's eLearning Toolkit


Boettcher JV (2011). Ten Best Practices for Teaching Online: Quick Guide for New Online faculty. Designing for Learning 2006-2013.

Lin H, Dyer K, Guo Y (2012). Exploring Online Teaching: A Three-Year Composite Journal of Concerns and Strategies from Online Instructors. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration 15(3).

Lloyd SA, Byrne MM, McCoy TS (2012). Faculty Perceived Barriers of Online Education. MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 8(1).

McKenzie BK, Mims N, Bennet EK, Waugh M (2000). Needs, concerns and practices of online instructors. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration 3(3).

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