Online courses, like all other courses, include mechanisms to evaluate student achievement. As with other courses, students should know the basis on which they are being evaluated. The student evaluation strategies used for online courses are similar to those used in traditional classrooms. They include:
- Students’ daily work and assignments – Some or all of students’ marks or grades are usually determined by the quality of the routine assignments that students submit to their instructor.
- Portfolios – In some courses, students are required to prepare a portfolio of their work and submit it to their distance education teacher. The portfolio can be an electronic portfolio that is submitted online or a traditional portfolio that is sent through the mail. A portfolio usually includes descriptions of experiments, field trips or experiences, stories, poems, diaries and the like. These are easy to send electronically. Portfolios may also include sketches, photographs, artwork, models, craft projects, recordings of the spoken word or music, and videotapes of student performances. Some of these items can be sent electronically, for example, a sketch can be scanned, but some may have to be sent through the mail.
- Mid-term and final exams – In some courses, students are required to write mid-term or final exams. These exams can be administered in a proctored classroom environment, or delivered online. Specific courses may have various exam requirements.
The following guidelines apply to administration of electronic tests:
- Be sure that the test area is quiet and that computers are arranged to ensure privacy.
- Test the computer equipment and Internet connection beforehand to be sure they are working properly.
- Arrange for a computer technician to be on site in case of a technology failure.
- Establish policies in case of a technology failure, such as computer crash or power disruption. Are the responses to the test items saved or does the student need to begin the test again?
- Be sure that students know how to use the keyboard, computer program and other hardware and software that will be used to administer the test.
- Ensure that students don’t print or copy any of the test items and thus compromise future tests.
- Follow the test administration procedure specified by the course developer.
Administration requirements may include amount of time allocated for each section of the test, and reference material allowed in the test room (Wall, 2000).