April 10, 2020

What Could Evaluation Look like for your Suddenly-Online Course? Part 1- Traditional Evaluations

This text was initially published by Profweb under a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 International licence, before Eductive was launched.

Are you looking at your course plan wondering how you are going to adapt the assessments that remain to your new ‘suddenly-online course’? Or maybe you would like to know what you can do to make sure students are not plagiarizing or cheating on quizzes and exams when you are not there to supervise? Finally, can you keep the evaluations you had planned or do you need new ones? There are a lot of questions and I could not answer all of them in only one article.

In this article I will talk about keeping your more traditional style evaluations and in the second article I will deal with having to rethink your assessments to take various formats (labs, discussions, other non-traditional forms of assessments) into account.

Keep assessments unchanged…if possible

It’s after midsession so you have probably already spoken to your students about the assignments and they have probably become familiar with your teaching style and the type of questions that you ask in an exam. Your students would probably appreciate the fact that you can maintain remaining assessments.

If you decide to keep your assessments unchanged, here are some aspects to take into account:

  • Simplify your life: Declutter the non-essential aspects of a complex evaluation assignment. Keep only the parts that answer to these 2 fundamental questions :
    • “What do I want my students to learn to do (the final outcomes of the course)? ”
    • “What is the most efficient way to get students to demonstrate online that they have the knowledge, skills, attitudes, or abilities”?
  • Invite creativity: Consider that some students may not have access to all of the software that is available on campus. Be flexible and accept alternative methods for how a student can submit an assignment. For example, instead of submitting a PowerPoint presentation, a student may need to ‘prepare slides’ on pieces of paper and send you photos instead.
  • Relieve anxiety: Clear instructions on how to submit a term paper or essay will lower anxiety for students submitting and you receiving the task.
    • It is a good idea to always use the college’s LMS such as LÉA. Have all assignments sent to one location preferably a file created for each specific submission. To help you out, stipulate a naming convention for submitting all tasks for example “student’s last name_title of assignment” or “student’s identification code_ topic one”. This tutorial in French explains how to download and then return graded assignment to the students using LÉA.
    • Make the grading process transparent by using rubrics. As you are not in class to answer all of the students’ questions about the evaluation, let them know before they start work what criteria will help define the characteristics of a high – or low quality assignment. Set up a rubric associated with an assignment posted in Moodle if you are not using Moodle here are some digital rubric generators to help get you started.
    • Record a video capture of the instructions for an evaluation activity. Students will be able to listen to your explanations as many times as they need while looking at the written instructions. Consult Digital Tools to Support an Inclusive Pedagogical Practice for more details.

Online assessment comes in multiple forms

A learner’s achievement can be measured using a variety of assessment types:

  • multiple-choice tests,
  • short/long answers
  • essays.

If you are using one of these formats for your evaluation here are some platforms to consider.

Netquiz Web+

On March 30, 2020 the Centre collégial de développement de matériel didactique (CCDMD) launched a new version of its popular tool for creating, posting and managing online questionnaires, Netquiz Web+.


Do you know that it provides multiple assessment options? Teachers can:

  • Set up a drop box where students submit assignments
  • Grade assignments offline or directly in Moodle
  • Configure a series of preloaded commonly used comments
  • Use evaluation rubrics
  • Record audio feedback

DECclic offers support for Moodle users and hosts an English community of practice that has a series of video tutorials on creating quizzes. For a complete guide to creating tests in Moodle [French] you can consult DECclic’s French site.

They will also be offering a series of courses for teachers on various topics related to the use of Moodle.

Concordia offers information and a video on Using Assignments in Moodle.


WeBWorK is an open source mathematical exerciser used to create online questionnaires and hosted on the CCDMD website. It provides teachers with access to a vast bank of mathematical problems that can be used to assess student knowledge and progress.

The exercises are corrected in real time, providing individualized support and immediate and reliable feedback to each student as they work through the problems. Assessments are customized through the integration of random parameters.

Microsoft Forms

Microsoft’s Educator Center offers a series of short videos on how to use Microsoft Forms to create both formative and summative assessments. Features of summative assessment include:

  • auto grading
  • manual grading
  • real time feedback
  • ability to export quiz results to Microsoft Excel for more in-depth analysis

Microsoft Forms also has equation and expression features for math and science.

Ensuring online academic integrity

How do you know if your online students are the ones who are actually doing the learning? Are you concerned that the person who is registered for the course is the same one who is answering the questions? Do you worry that that students will have their books open during a test? There are ways to prevent such situations:

  • Get to know student’s writing style: Use a series of short written formative assignments or frequent discussion contributions to help you get to know your students typical work and writing styles. You would then be alerted by any abrupt change in writing style or vocabulary. Larger projects created in small increments can also help you become familiar with a student’s style.
  • Use Moodle Quiz settings to reduce cheating: Moodle offers a test creation tool that allows you to randomize the delivery of questions and thus minimize cheating. Create a bank of questions; let’s say 20 and Moodle will randomly select a subset of questions (10, for example) as well as change the order of the questions to create a practically new test for each student. Here are the instructions for Randomizing Quiz Questions in Moodle. Also you can set a start and end time for the exam as a way of minimizing cheating.
  • Other strategies:
    • change a written exam into an oral exam.
    • some colleges use Turnitin, Compilation or URKUND to ensure that writing assignments do not contain plagiarism.
    • Use authentic assessment that requires students to apply their knowledge rather than require correct responses. (More on this in my next article on evaluation)

Need more information?

SALTISE’ website host a wealth of Online Teaching & Learning Resources and in particular some very interesting resources on assessment and grading. For instance this resource, Moving Assessments and Final Exams Online created by Concordia offers a step-by-step guide that can easily be adapted to meet college level challenges.

Among APOP’s materials there is a series of videos [in French] that explain how to turn your traditional course into an online course. Episode 5 deals with how to manage evaluations.

Caring is sharing

It would be helpful, if you could share what works for you. Please leave a comment if you have any tips, questions, or examples or join our Facebook group, College pedagogy and technology.

About the author

Susan MacNeil

She has had a busy career in education. With a M.Ed she taught all levels from kindergarten to university. However, most of her career was spent at the college level teaching ESL. She gave Performa courses, lead workshops at SPEAQ, RASCALS and l’AQPC. She served at the Ministère de l’Enseignement supérieur where she contributed to the evaluation of the general education components. She received grants from L’Entente Canada-Québec for various
research projects. Susan is also the recipient of the AQPC Mention d’honneur Award. Having retired from teaching she became a contributor to Real Life Stories of education technology integration at Eductive. Chinese ink painting helps her relax and travel keeps her energized.

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