On the first day of a new semester, when the course syllabus is distributed to students, what is the first thing they look at? Is it the course objectives? Unlikely. How about the plagiarism policy? Also, not very likely. For most students, the only part of the syllabus that they concern themselves with reviewing is the section on
On the first day of a new semester, when the course syllabus is distributed to students, what is the first thing they look at? Is it the course objectives? Unlikely. How about the plagiarism policy? Also, not very likely. For most students, the only part of the syllabus that they concern themselves with reviewing is the section on assignments and the grading schema.
Many students view assignments as a necessary steppingstone to achieve their desired grade, with few students concerning themselves with the skills that may be gained from completing such tasks. Nowadays, it seems that students are more concerned with taking “easy” courses than “good” courses. How can you as a professor ensure that your students are getting the most out of your course and the assignments you assign?
Incorporate both formative and summative assessments. Formative assessments are meant to monitor student learning and provide ongoing feedback. These assessments are generally low stakes, meaning they have low or no point value. Some ideas for formative assessments could be a quiz to assess understanding, a reflection of the most recent module, or a proposal for the final project.
Summative assessments on the other hand are meant to evaluate student learning. These assessments are typically high stakes and examples include a midterm exam, term paper, or final project. The reality is that many professors neglect formative assessments, assigning primarily summative assessments to their students. This means that most students focus all their efforts on achieving their desired grade on these high stakes assignments and fail to actually learn the course material when it is irrelevant to these tasks.
In online courses, the need for formative assessments is even more vital. During in-person courses, professors can typically gauge student understanding through facial expressions or questions posed during discussions. As you create your online course, I highly recommend incorporating a formative assignment into your weekly modules. You can use tools in Canvas to make these assessments creative and interactive and, as an Academic Technology Scholar, I can assist you with utilizing these tools to improve the activities in your online course!