Good Practice Gives Prompt Feedback
Knowing what you know and don’t know focuses your learning. In getting started, students need help in assessing their existing knowledge and competence. Then, in classes, students need frequent opportunities to perform and receive feedback on their performance. At various points during college, and at its end, students need chances to reflect on what they have learned, what they still need to know, and how they might assess themselves.
The ways in which new technologies can provide feedback are many — sometimes obvious, sometimes more subtle. We already have talked about the use of email for supporting person-to-person feedback, for example, and the feedback inherent in simulations. Computers also have a growing role in recording and analyzing personal and professional performances. Teachers can use technology to provide critical observations for an apprentice; for example, video to help a novice teacher, actor, or athlete critique his or her own performance. Faculty (or other students) can react to a writer’s draft using the “hidden text” option available in word processors: Turned on, the “hidden” comments spring up; turned off, the comments recede and the writer’s prized work is again free of “red ink.”
As we move toward portfolio evaluation strategies, computers can provide rich storage and easy access to student products and performances. Computers can keep track of early efforts, so instructors and students can see the extent to which later efforts demonstrate gains in knowledge, competence, or other valued outcomes. Performances that are time-consuming and expensive to record and evaluate — such as leadership skills, group process management, or multicultural interactions — can be elicited and stored, not only for ongoing critique but also as a record of growing capacity.
Gives prompt feedback
Timely feedback and remediation is an important component of effective teaching. On the Internet, the teacher can provide prompt feedback by means online communications functions. But feedback can also be programmed right into the content. It can be as simple as embedded questions or online assessments that are electronically graded. Or, it can be as complex as multi-layered simulations in which learner decisions determine what happens next. In group discussions either with other humans or with avatars, learners can correct, clarify and amplify learning information.
Challenges: It is easy to cheat on online quizzes and tests. Multiple choice questions, which are the defacto standard for many university exams, are especially vulnerable. The challenge for many online course developers and subject matter experts is to develop assessment instruments that do not lend themselves to cheating.
Do you have any ideas about online assessment strategies that making cheating more difficult or less appealing?