Online Assessment and Instruction Plan

General Resources
Assessment Decision Making
Assessment Modification
Assessment Choices
Online Instructional Support

Good teaching is good teaching. 

Whether you are new to online teaching or have been doing it for a long time, it can be a very rewarding experience. Teaching a full online course or adding online elements to current courses offers you and your students variety and flexibility for engagement in learning.  The resources below have been curated to help you to make your online instruction as effective and satisfying as possible for you and your students during this transition time and beyond.
Decades ago, Chickering & Gameson (1987) articulated 7 Principles for Good Practices in Undergraduate Education that are timeless, applicable across all levels of higher education, and highly relevant to online learning and teaching environments.

The Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education 
  1. Encourage contact between students and faculty
  2. Develop reciprocity and cooperation among students
  3. Encourage active learning
  4. Give prompt feedback
  5. Emphasize time on task
  6. Communicate high expectations
  7. Respect diverse talents and ways of learning 

The message here is that good teaching is good teaching regardless of whether we meet our students in physical classrooms or in online spaces.  Keep these 7 important principles in mind as you plan instruction and learning as they speak to the things that matter to supporting student learning and be encouraged that they can easily be replicable in online formats.


As a Starting Point


  1. Determine where you and your students are in terms of addressing the stated intentions for  learning. How much can you and your students realistically accomplish at this time?  
  2. Identify any content areas left to cover that are critical to the successful completion of the course.
  3. Keep the “need to know” elements and plan to let go of the “nice to know” content.
  4. Communicate all course changes to students by uploading the adjusted course syllabus to the course LMS and notifying them by email and/or LMS announcement tool. 
  5. Prioritize simplicity of course materials and assessments, and use technology that you are familiar with. If you opt to use technology focus on asynchronous methods of delivery (not in real time) where possible.
  6. If enough material and assignments have been completed, consider re-weighting assignments, or the whole course.

Which assessments are essential to students achieving my learning outcomes for the course?  What knowledge and skills still need to be assessed? Could any assessments be eliminated or reduced?



Types of assessments & “things to think about” for designing each:

Some examples of what you’ll find: 

  • Various types of Exams (including take-home) & MCQ tests 
  • Presentations, Essays, Articles, 
  • Assessment of practice 
  • Case studies, blogs
  • Synthesis portfolios

Resource: Downloadable PDF or Full website

How do i modify an Assessment?



If you currently use…. You could instead consider using …. To assure standards you might need to consider… Suggested Resources 
Time-constrained exams in invigilated exam rooms or in-class tests

“Take-away” exams, in which you set the questions or tasks virtually and ask the students to submit their responses electronically within a set period of time. 


Convert your test or in-class quiz into a Quiz in Sakai with randomized questions and a time limit.


The final exam could be replaced by an individual culminating essay.


Where final exams do not amount to a significant percentage of the final grade, or where the assessment of relevant learning outcomes are covered elsewhere in the course, a formal exam might be cancelled and the course assessment re-weighted accordingly.

Because students have access to materials, the design of questions
may need to be reframed to move away from recall-based tasks to questions that require students to demonstrate how they use information rather than reiterate what they have learned. It will be important, therefore, to provide guidance for students in the change
in orientation of the task.
It is also good practice to re-run any changes to question formats through the usual moderation processes.

 To deter cheating you could advise students that you will run ‘spot checks’ or mini-vivas with a sample of the student population, where you will discuss their reasoning for the answers they’ve provided.


Designing Remote Final exams – Recorded Webinar (25 min)


In-class presentations where students speak to an audience of their peers/others and are assessed not only on the content but also their presentation techniques.

Ask students (individually or in groups) to submit a narrated presentation in electronic form which can then be tutor-marked and peer-reviewed.


PowerPoint is familiar to most students, and offers a slide-by-slide voice-narration recording facility


Have students submit video recordings of their performances, presentations, or projects using their phones, Zoom, Screencast-o-matic, or Quicktime (on Mac only) 


Ask students to prepare a podcast on the topic to be submitted electronically.

Take account of the fact that, given the recorded presentation format, students can have multiple opportunities to prepare the item they are submitting, rather than having to cope with the one-off nature of a live presentation.



Where seminar presentations are key to a course, consider how other work could be substituted


How to assess presentations & marking rubric 
Portfolio, logbook or assessment notebook It is likely that the best solution here is to move hard-copy portfolios to e-portfolios, for example in the LMS, class Google Drive, via online blogs (try edublog) etc..

Where these have been partially completed already, assessors will have to use professional judgment to decide whether sufficient evidence of achievement of the learning outcome has been achieved already by the time of university closure.


For some students without ready internet access or lacking digital confidence the move to e-portfolios might be quite challenging, and they may need extra guidance.

E-portfolio assessment rubric 
Viva Voce exams, e.g. for PhD examinations in person, or other forms of oral assessment (e.g in language learning). These could readily be undertaken by Skype, Zoom, or other electronic remote means. Students may need significant support in developing confidence to work virtually where they have no prior experience.  

Assessed seminars, group discussions and other similar activities.



It is likely these could be held in an online platform such as Sakai, Zoom, WebEx or Microsoft Teams. Staff as well as students may need to be supported to learn how to use this approach if it isn’t currently part of their normal learning experiences.

Grading rubric for asynchronous class discussion 

Grading rubric for asynchronous discussion participation 

Lab work





It may be possible to replicate some aspects of lab work through simulations in which students are presented with data sets and required to interpret them. Often this means focusing on interpretation of data rather than working in the lab to achieve the results personally


Consider if there are other parts of the lab experience you could take online (for example, video demonstrations of techniques, online simulations, analysis of data, other pre- or post-lab work).  Students can ‘see’ data produced elsewhere and be asked to comment/interpret.

If students can be provided with different data sets for personal interpretation, this can mitigate the risk of ‘over-sharing’ or personation. Merlot Virtual Labs (Users must create a free account) 

What other assessments could I use?



Quick Questions!  (For assessment & student engagement) 

The use of  short questions as prompts in online discussions or to help students to reflect on what they’re learning at particular points in a class or at the end of class will help you to see where your students are in their learning, what they are taking away, and also where the gaps might be in their learning. You could also use quick questions for participation! Students are usually pleased when they have multiple opportunities to participate (e.g. speaking and/or writing).  On occasion you may want to use quick questions and have students submit their answers privately to you, as homework. This gives students the chance to be more honest about their learning, in the event that they are less forthcoming in online forums.  

Consider posing quick questions to your students: 

  • On discussion forums in Sakai (LMS) or your class Facebook group, Google group, and so on
  • As homework for them to answer and submit (via email, on a class blog, in a group discussion forum) 
  • As a text in WhatsApp (if you have a WhatsApp group set-up for your class)


Categories of Examples of Quick Questions:
Student Interest:
  • Without looking at your notes, what was most memorable or stands out in your mind about today’s class?
  • What was the most surprising and/or unexpected idea expressed in today’s discussion?
  • Looking back at your notes, what would you say was the most stimulating idea discussed in today’s class?
  • For you, what interesting questions remain unanswered about today’s topic?
  • In your opinion, what was the most useful idea discussed in today’s class?
  • During today’s class, what idea(s) struck you as things you could or should put into practice?
  • What example or illustration cited in today’s class could you relate to the most?
  • Would you agree or disagree with this statement: . . .? Why?
  • What was the most persuasive or convincing argument (or counterargument) that you heard expressed in today’s discussion?
  • Was there a position taken in today’s class that you strongly disagreed with, or found to be disturbing and unsettling?
  • What idea expressed in today’s class strongly affected or influenced your personal opinions, viewpoints, or values?
  • What did you perceive to be the major purpose or objective of today’s class?
  • What do you think was the most important point or central concept communicated during today’s presentation?  
  • Conceptual Connections:
  • What relationship did you see between today’s topic and other topics previously covered in this course?
  • What was discussed in class today that seemed to connect with what you are learning or have learned in other course(s)?


Recommended assessment resources:

Resources to Support Online Instruction



How might I encourage active learning & discussion during live online sessions? 

  1. Video Ant is a tool that groups can use to annotate videos and it works well with Youtube videos. Use this to discuss a video in real time or asynchronously. This tool works similarly to a typical discussion forum in the LMS. 
  2. To facilitate small group discussion in class, Zoom has the option of using Break-out rooms which is an excellent tool to help divide the class into groups. It gives the host the control regarding the number of groups, the number of students per group, and which student gets assigned to which group.
  3. Poll Everywhere is a useful tool to get students to respond to the instructor’s question through their mobile phones.  See also 75 Digital Toolsto support engagement and formative assessment.
  4. To encourage Back Channeling(a good way to get students to participate, have a brainstorming session, and get feedback from students), instructors can use Padlet and Answer Garden. Both options can be used with Zoom or similar platforms.  For more information about using back channeling tools check out this video.

How might I encourage student participation in asynchronous discussions? 

  1. Try quick questions (see above)
  2. Use the Forums option on the LMS, twitter or by creating a blog. Blogs are especially useful when students need to post pictures, video clips and digital material.
  3. Define clear goals and objectives for the online discussion and provide a clear organizing structure. See this link for helpful instructional guidelines.

Some Discussion Activities (Synchronous or Asynchronous) 

Discussing Readings, Other Texts or leading General Discussions 
  1. “Quotes to affirm & Quotes to Challenge”
    • Students choose quotes from a text (e.g. class reading)  that they wish to affirm (thin it is correct, confirms a belief) and quotes they wish to challenge (disagree with, believe to be inaccurate). 
    • Students can form small groups online and individuals take turns talking about their quotes to affirm and then their quotes to challenge.  Groups chose 1 quote and report back to the whole class (break out groups in LMS can support this)
    • Alternatives
      • Groups can be predetermined by instructor (if used as synchronous activity) and students can post to a chosen online forum, WhatsApp etc. 
      • Students can respond to each other’s quotes in writing, on a predetermined online forum
  2. “The Circle of Voices”
    • This activity is a great discussion format for ensuring that everyone’s voice is heard at least once at the start of the session. It can be easily used to run a discussion via Zoom or adapted for asynchronous purposes.
      • Give students up to three minutes silent time to organize their thoughts. During this time they think about what they want to say on the topic once the circle of voices begins.
      • After this silent period the discussion opens with each person having a period of uninterrupted air time.
      • During the time each person is speaking no one else is allowed to interrupt.
      • People can take their turns to speak by going round the “circle” in order or volunteering at random.
      • After the circle of voices has been completed, and everyone has had the chance to say their piece, then the discussion opens out into a freer flowing format.
      • As this happens a second ground rule comes into effect: Students are only allowed to talk about another person’s ideas that have already been shared in the circle of voices.  A person cannot jump into the conversation by expanding on his own ideas; he can only talk about his reactions to what someone else has said. The only exception to this ground rule is if someone else asks him directly to expand on his ideas.
  3. Tips for what to do when class discussion stalls 



What tools could I use to conduct lectures and presentations online?

  1.   Online lectures can be prepared in text and graphic format with software programs such as Microsoft Word or PowerPoint.
  2.   Unlike PowerPoint’s linear structure, Cmap and Prezi enable instructors to map out concepts easily and rearrange them as needed.
  3.   Programs such as Camtasia and iShowU allow instructors to record and synchronize their lectures with a slide show (more high-tech options).  
  4.   Lecture podcasts are also a useful method.