Assess student learning

How will you know that your students have met your objectives for the course? 

It's important to give your students an opportunity to demonstrate that they have met all of your course objectives. If it's impossible to come up with an assessment that enables students to show that they've met an objective, it probably needs to be revised. Writing a good rubric for every assignment will help students understand the link between the assignment and the course objectives. Some rubrics apply to a whole category of assignments. For example, you can have one rubric that shows how you'll assess all discussion posts. Some rubrics may be geared to one specific assignment. Rubrics let students know exactly how you'll be evaluating them and what constitutes mastery of the learning objectives.  

You may assess student learning with a culminating (capstone) assignment and/or smaller assessments that allow students to show their mastery as they go along. A high-stakes summative assessment like a final test or capstone project may be overwhelming to students if they haven't grasped the underlying skills and concepts. By giving students low-stakes opportunities to practice and get feedback on smaller, weekly objectives (known as formative assessment), you can help them identify and remedy gaps in their knowledge.  

One option for assessment: Open pedagogy


Are there any ways that students can demonstrate mastery while also contributing to the course itself or other real-world applications? Open pedagogy suggests that we rely less on “disposable assignments” that are only for the instructor to read, and take advantage of open licenses to enable students to revise, remix, and create their own content. Open pedagogy assignments generally ask students to critique, create, organize, and synthesize: if you recall Bloom's Taxonomy, from the last section, these are higher-order skills.

Open pedagogy has three components:

  1. You make use of teaching and learning practices that are possible with OER and impossible with traditionally copyrighted materials
  2. You use OER
  3. Your students work in the open - they share their work with an open license

Open pedagogy isn't a one-size strategy for every situation (just like any pedagogy!). There are a few considerations to make sure that the way you structure an open pedagogy assignment will work for your students:

  • Offer support in understanding open licenses and get clear consent to openly license student work. Sample materials are available in the folder Open Licenses for Students
  • Consider student privacy concerns. Some students may want to work anonymously. It's a good idea to offer a public option and a private option (an alternative to the open assignment that's only read by you, or only read by you + classmates).
  • Find an audience for the student work that is both a real-world setting and that has an authentic need for student contributions. One of the most obvious contexts for student work is future versions of your course, though you might also consider Wikipedia, letters to the editor, research publications, etc.  

More on open pedagogy:


Text: "Why start with learning objectives" was modified from "Assessing Learning Outcomes" and "Scaffolding" in the OER Course Redesign Training: Open Ed Week Sprint [Canvas Commons course] by Amy Hofer/Open Oregon Educational Resources. Used under CC BY 4.0.

Last modified: Thursday, October 3, 2019, 11:57 AM