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Online Learning

Assessing the Online Learner

Assessing the Online Learner:  Resources and Strategies for Faculty.  Palloff, Rena M. and Pratt, Keith, Jossey-Bass (2009).

Reviewed by Cheri Johnson, Sociology

This installment of the Jossey-Bass Guides to Online Teaching and Learning series was designed to help online instructors understand the fundamentals of effective online assessment:  what works, as well as what does not.  Divided into two parts, Assessing the Online Learner explores the theoretical foundation upon which the work is based in Part One, and then moves directly to practice in Part Two by presenting specific assessment and evaluation techniques, with ideas for their implementation and applicability to different online courses, as well as suggestions for additional resources.

Faculty new to online education are often so focused on delivering course content that they may be completely unaware of the challenges of effectively assessing student learning and progress.  However, even the experienced online instructor may not be completely cognizant of the potential pitfalls and shortcomings inherent in limiting online assessment to tried-and-true tools and methodologies utilized in the face-to-face classroom.  This book attempts to rectify this by addressing:

  • Differences between objectives, outcomes, and competencies
  • How objectives, outcomes, and competencies are incorporated into good assessment/evaluation practice
  • Learner-focused teaching and assessment, including self- and peer-assessment
  • Accurate, effective rubrics
  • Assessment tools that transcend the use of tests and quizzes
  • Why “traditional” tests/quizzes are less effective in online instruction
  • Avoiding and managing plagiarism
  • Authentic assessments in alignment with course content that provide opportunities to apply and demonstrate learned concepts
  • Guidelines for offering and modeling effective feedback
  • Incorporation of feedback into the ongoing development of assessment/evaluation activities

From the novice to the veteran, educators at all levels of online instructional experience will find invaluable information and tips to strengthen their repertoire of assessment and evaluation of student learning in this helpful book.