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Designing your formative and/or summative digital assessments

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Assessing student learning online can be challenging, but there are several tools that can help support your assessment strategy. There are a number of assessment tools that are available to you. Though often named very specifically (e.g. Quizzes tool), they can be used in a myriad of ways; don't limit yourself to think that a quiz tool can only be used for quizzes. It is important, before you decide on a tool, to map out what your assessment looks like and what outcomes you are trying to measure. Then, you can map a tool that supports the achievement of those goals.

FASE's summative assessment recommendations focus on three tools:

  1. Quercus Quizzes
  2. Quercus Assignments
  3. Crowdmark Assigned Assessments (see our guide to administering Crowdmark to get started; Crowdmark has been licensed for all FASE courses - it is available to you at no charge but does require some ahead-of-time planning if you plan to use it to adminstered (in person) assessments as these require scanning).

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Remember to set your grade posting policy to manual! Before you begin marking in Quercus, you'll want to reset your grade posting policy to manual and hidden (you can set the grade post policy for the course as a whole, too). If you do not do this, the default will be to release updates on marking to students as you mark. 

1. Getting started

  1. Take a look at the EdTech Catalogue. This is a current catalogue of educational technology tools and services supported at the University of Toronto (either as a central resource, or supported at the divisional or departmental level).
  2. If you're looking to pilot a tool that is not officially licensed and vetted, consider carefully the tool that you are implementing. Not only does it need to be robust enough to use in a course (what happens if it shutters during the semester?), it should also be secure (will it share the data stored in the tool?). For guidelines to consider in the decision making process, see Tools Beyond Quercus.
  3. Before you make a selection, you might be interested in comparing institutionally-supported assessment tool options (see which assessment tool is right for your assessment?).
  4. With each tool, there are quirks and things you should know about administering the tools in your course. If you have questions, we do encourage you to schedule a consultation with the EdTech Office.
  5. Consider accommodation and accessibility implications (see Accessibility and Accommodation Options in Quercus Quizzes). You can also contact the Accommodations Testing Service (ATS) to get support to build the accommodations for Quercus and Crowdmark (some lead time is required; get started on this early!).
  6. Weigh carefully the value of online proctoring. If you go for it, leave a lot of lead time to schedule, set up, and test your online proctoring workflow (especially if your assessment includes the submission of handwritten work) (see Online Proctoring Guidelines).

2. Watch the recording! Select your online assessment tool: Which tool should you use and why?

This session was intended to help support your decision process as you decide how to build your online assessments (see Select your assessment tool). While we will talked extensively about the functionality (and the limitations) of each assessment tool, we didn't get into specifics. If you'd like some help to pick a tool, or if you've decided and are looking for some help to build an assessment, you can schedule a consultation and we'll get started

2.1. Ideas to get you started using the Quercus Quiz tool

  1. You can use the quiz tool to create online quizzes and surveys (see "What quiz types can I create in a course?").
  2. To consider students taking exams from different time zones, you could use the different start times for different sections of students (see "How do I assign a quiz to a course section?"). You can create sections via the UofT Advanced Group Tool to reflect the groups for your assessment.
  3. To help promote academic integrity when delivering an exam through Quercus, you could randomize test questions (from a question bank) to create a unique assessment for each student, limit the date/time students are able to access the assessment (keep time limits brief but realistic; you can also give them extra time as needed), and/or limit the amount of time students have to answer each question (e.g. 2 minutes for each multiple-choice question)
  4. While Quercus does not provide any type of browser lock down (limiting access to certain things on a device), you can select quiz settings to maximize security without hindering student learning.
  5. Use the Moderate Quiz page to view student progress or view quiz logs to view the status of your student quizzes. This feature is also designed to help you investigate problems that a student may have in the quiz.
  6. If you want to hide the grades until a specific time (highly recommended), remember to set a grade posting policy (see "How do I select a grade posting policy for an assignment in the Gradebook?").

Can I use the Quiz tool for an automatically graded assessment? Yes! Watch "Using the Quercus Quizzes tool for automated online tests" to review auto-graded question types and explore options for quiz configuration strategies that support academic integrity. Bonus tip! If you are using a quiz question to ask students to acknowledge an honour code, make sure you use a multiple choice or True/False (or other machine-graded) question type or you'll be asked to provide a mark per student for this question (even though the rest of your quiz will be auto-graded).

2.2. Ideas to get you started using Crowdmark

  1. Review our documentation on using Crowdmark within your course (See "How to Configure Crowdmark").
  2. To create an account with Crowdmark, contact your Associate Chair or the EdTech Office for your link to create an account.
  3. To see if an Assigned Assessment would work for your final assessment, you can review Crowdmark's documentation, "Choosing an assessment type."

2.3. Ideas to get you started using the Quercus Assignments tool

  1. Review the types of assessments (e.g. assignments, discussions, quizzes, even ungraded submissions) that can be submitted digitally (see "What assignment types can I create in a course?").
  2. Have students submit their projects (from word documents to infographics to mind maps and beyond) in a digital format via the Assignments tool (see "How do I create an assignment?"), which can accept multiple different types of files.
  3. If you want to hide the grades until a specific time (highly recommended), remember to set a grade posting policy (see "How do I select a grade posting policy for an assignment in the Gradebook?").
  4. You can leave feedback for your students using text, an attached file, video, or audio (see "How do I leave feedback comments for student submissions in SpeedGrader?") or you can add comments by annotation (see "How do I add annotated comments in student submissions?").
  5. You can mark students anonymously by disabling the ability of the marker to see student names (see "How do I hide student names in SpeedGrader?").

Can I use Assignments for a take-home exam? Yes! Many are choosing to use Assignments as their tool to receive submissions because a) you can run the results through Ouriginal and b) you can mark the submissions using the Speedgrader (see how to "Administer Take-home exams using the Assignments tool on Quercus" for more information on the differences between quizzes and assignments, as well as how to review the features of the Assignments tool that support a take-home exam). Please note that in order to use Ouriginal, you do need to include it on your syllabus (see CTSI's plagiarism Detection Tool Guide).

Support the tool you select

  1. Create a "scaffolding" assessment. This is a low stake assessments (it could even be a "dummy" assessment) that's real purpose it to test the process for submission. This reduces stress the day of the true final assessment, as a) students know what to expect and b) teaching teams know what kind of submissions they'll be marking.
  2. Provide an overview of the process, clearly, with examples of different ways to submit the submission. This will be different for each class, but is especially important to review if you are expecting students to scan or take photos of paper-based, handwritten work (see "How can I submit handwritten work?" for a student-facing resource that you can share with your students). You'll want to ensure that students have the capacity to submit a clear representation of their work.
  3. Be clear about what you are expecting. If you want students to submit one file, suggest ways to do that (e.g. paste images into one document and then upload). You could even provide an example submission.
  4. Start communicating well before the final assessment; as always, the important thing is to clearly lay out the steps of the submission process. Communication around this technical process is just as important as the process itself.
  5. Solicit feedback about the process from your students. Were they comfortable? Did it make sense with the type of assessment you have? Did they have any technical difficulty? Based on the test submission, you can revise for the final submission.

Should I use social media in my course? It is very important to remember that unless you have a formal contract with a 3rd party company that protects the personal information and intellectual property of you and your students, you should not force your students to use that service. Please read a company’s Terms of Service materials very carefully; they often contain clauses that run counter to the University’s guidelines.

Don't post final grades in Quercus! Exam and final course grades should not be posted in Quercus courses. Grades posted in Quercus allow students to view their progress, and do not represent their official final marks. Students can view their final grades on ACORN.

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