Assessment is a vital aspect of the teaching-learning process. It helps in enhancing the quality of learning and also helps in determining if the learning objectives are met. Assessments give the teachers a better understanding of students' learning gaps and enable them to modify their teaching strategies accordingly.
With the use of digital technology and the increasing need due to the ongoing pandemic, online tests or e-assessments have gained prominence. They have become inevitable in the education sector of the present times.
Exams aim to assess, measure, and understand the students' academic progress and skill acquisition, thus ensuring that students meet the intended learning objectives. While witnessing the paradigm shift from traditional, established evaluation methods to customized digital assessments, we need to design and conduct online tests effectively.
Benefits of Online Tests
- Online assessments provide us the advantage of being flexible with the kind of questions and how and when they can be conducted.
- Teachers can design the tests for each topic and assign them to students as home tests, allowing them to be taken at their convenient time.
- There is an option to re-do the test, enabling them to learn from their wrong answers and correct them.
- Students can work individually or as groups in online tests designed as quizzes.
- Teachers can identify the misconceptions of students easily.
- Above all, online tests can be well recorded and added to a detailed learning portfolio, which can be referred to or showcased at various places.
In this article, we have come up with some simple strategies to design online assessments easily and effectively.
While designing an online assessment, consider the below mentioned aspects.
Align the assessment tool to the intended learning outcome. For instance, if you want to test the comprehension skills of the students, you may provide a take-home quiz to students, along with a reading assignment. For subjects that involve vast reading, you may design an open book assessment, where the students will have the questions and have to answer from the given reading material.
Purpose of the assessment
Design your online test based on the purpose of conducting it. If you are conducting the test to check the students' understanding, then incorporate questions that would get them to think and apply the learned concepts. You may include application-based questions and reasoning questions.
However, if the test is intended to reinforce or recapitulate the learnt concepts, then keep the test simple. You may have an online quiz using quizzing tools or use a form with multiple-choice questions that would serve the purpose.
Consider the age of the students for whom the online test is being designed. Use age-appropriate online assessment tools that would make the test effective. Tests that might require more technical knowledge and application may not be suitable for primary grades students.
How to design online tests?
While there are several advantages of online assessments to the teachers as well as the students, the benefits can be reaped only with effective designing of the tests. Here are a few ways that would help you design your online test effectively
- Incorporate various question types
Online tests support questions of different types. Generally, closed-ended questions such as Multiple Choice Questions( MCQ), questions with multiple answers, true or false, match the following, etc., can be auto-graded.
Question types, including fill in the blanks, short answers, give reasons, essay, etc., are open-ended and have constructed responses, requiring manual grading.
An effective online test must have a mixed bag of questions of all types. Have a balance between all types of questions to make the paper more purposeful.
- Include questions involving different cognitive skills.
Design the tests in line with Bloom's Taxonomy, including questions that test different cognitive learning levels. Questions on lower-order thinking skills such as knowledge and understanding are pretty simple for everyone to answer.
Higher-order thinking skills include application, analysis, evaluation, and creation. The HOTS questions cannot be answered with rote learning, and instead, it requires higher levels of cognitive skills. These questions challenge the students' intellect, encouraging them to reach their potential.
- Maintain transparency
While designing an online test, make sure to keep the students informed of the following.
- Time allocated - When you conduct an online test, let the students know about the deadline to submit the test. If you are conducting it in the class, where everyone begins simultaneously, consider the possibilities of technical glitches or power issues and set the time accordingly.
- Marking scheme –Mention the marking criteria and the parameters or the rubrics of the assessment in the test paper for students' reference.
- Purpose of the exam- Clearly state the online test's goal. Inform the students about the expected outcome and explain how the test fits the goals.
- Have a defined feedback mechanism
Formative tests are Assessments for Learning( AFL). They are compared to the chef tasting the soup, which means there is a scope for error analysis and rectification based on the right feedback. Effective feedback is essential to enable students to better their best. When an online test is taken as a formative assessment- say an online quiz, meant to recapitulate the concepts, proper feedback increases student engagement and boosts confidence.
Besides, you can provide them with an opportunity to act on your feedback. You may allow them to take the quiz repeatedly to address the learning gaps.
- Introspect your online test design
While students work on your feedback, it is essential to introspect your online test to check if it meets the required standards. Check if
- your assessment tasks encourage students to have in-depth conceptual learning, rather than superficial browsing the topic.
- it caters to all kinds of learners.
- it works towards meeting the learning objectives, etc.
Online assessments are incorporated in various levels beyond school education. With increased sectors adopting online assessments, it has become the new normal. Focusing on keen details of designing online tests will help us make them most useful.