Assessing Produced Materials, Media and Assignments

This section provides information about how students can demonstrate they have achieved learning outcomes by creating materials, media or assignments.

Getting students to create their produced materials or media provides many benefits. These types of assessments require students to interact indepth wth ideas and to synthesize the learning to create something new. However, these types of assessments can often require more time for the student to create, particularly if they are using unfamiliar software or hardware.

Examples

  • creating a podcast or audio recording;
  • recording an elevator pitch of a capstone project;
  • collecting evidence of learning outcome achievement and presenting as a portfolio;
  • designing and creating a website or wiki;
  • recording or creating a video about a topic of research.

There are many benefits to using some type of produced material or portfolio. These assignments require students to deeply interact with ideas and synthesize material to create something new. Conrad and Openo (2018) highlight that e-portfolios, journals, and projects are all less likely to see academic integrity infractions since it is unlikely someone will 'take on' that kind of work for another. However, these types of assessments can require significant attention and time for the instructor to grade.

Due to the involved nature of these assessments, asynchronous completion is recommended. Instructors are encouraged to build in times for students to work on these projects throughout a semester. For example, in week 3, an instructor might remind students that they should have an idea for their portfolio format and determine which platform they intend to use to create their portfolio. The instructor would then design this week to have less required 'weekly work' so students have some time to work on their project.

If giving students a choice about how to present their work (e.g., a platform for their portfolio), you must ensure you have a means to take a snapshot of their work or to remove their editing permissions when it is time for the work to be assessed. You don’t want students having the ability to edit their work after the submission deadline. 

There are four questions you should ask yourself when assessing created materials, media, and assignments:

  1. How does this produced material, media, or assignment match the intended learning outcomes?
  2. How will I incorporate formative assessment and summative assessment?
  3. What technology might students need to learn in order to complete this assessment?
  4. How will students submit this assessment?

1. How does this produced material, media, or assignment match the intended learning outcomes?

Getting students to produce their own material can be a very effective way for them to demonstrate their learning; it’s often more engaging for the student to create and for the instructor to mark. However, as with any assessment, it is important to reflect on which medium would be best. If your intention is to teach academic writing, a paper-style assignment is most likely to the most appropriate mode of assessment. If you are teaching students about the history of a phenomenon, a visual representation of their understanding, such as a website showcasing a timeline, might be best. For a course in which students are learning the biomechanics of an activity, students could create a video which demonstrates how this knowledge could be applied to a certain sport. Instructors should ensure that focus of the assessment is on demonstrating that learning outcomes have been achieved and not on their use of the technology. (For example, if students are creating a video, it should be the content which is graded, not the ‘production-value’ (unless the learning outcomes for the course focus on aspects of media, as one would expect from Media Studies, for example).

2. How will I incorporate formative assessment and summative assessment?

Summative assessment is often called assessment of learning. For created materials, media, and assignments, the product is typically summatively assessed by the instructor. When summatively assessing this type of student work, we strongly recommend instructors use a well-defined rubric.

These types of assessments often require students to work over a long period of time. This provides opportunities for formative assessment (assessment for learning). Students might submit an outline or draft of their planned video for feedback. You might include peer-assessment opportunities by having students evaluate each others' under-construction websites to give direction on how the current product might be improved. You are strongly urged to provide a rubric or feedback guideline to students. Both the Group Peer Assessment - Beta tool or the workshop tool in eClass is recommended. It is also recommended you require students to provide a reflection about this feedback (i.e., how they put the provided next steps into action) as this makes it difficult for students to outsource the work.

3. What technology might students need to learn in order to complete this assessment?

Although many students are adept with the use of technology, be wary of assuming students will be automatically able and confident to use any type of software or hardware. Learning new technology can be stressful. Time is needed to process these types of assessments. Instructors can help ease this anxiety by providing students with clear expectations and access to any necessary tutorials/support.

Provide clear expectations about how much editing is expected for audio and video assessments. A video assessment might be more engaging than a paper assignment but you should consider how much video editing may be required. Instructors and students should bear in mind that the end product of the assessment is to demonstrate an aspect of learning, not to create a Hollywood-type movie or to create a CBC-level audio production.

One way to have students showcase their learning over an entire course or program is to use ePortfolios. All University of Alberta students have access to an ePortfolio system through MaharaGoogle Sites is another option to which all University of Alberta students have access. Google Sites can be used to build websites as well as portfolios. They have thorough tutorials available at the GSuite Learning Centre.

4. How will students submit this assessment?

The easiest way to collect assignments is through eClass. Using the Assignments feature in eClass, instructors can have students submit their work as a link (to shared files or websites) or can upload material to the assignment space. Instructors can grade assignments through eClass and can even develop a simple, clickable rubric for grading.

Submitting larger files, such as video files, through the assignments feature is not recommended. There is a file size limit and most videos will surpass this. There are several ways to upload larger files.

One way is for the instructor to create a folder in Google Drive and share this link with the students. The downside to this is that students have the ability to not only upload but also download others’ work (and erase it). One way around this is to create a master folder and, within this folder, to create another folder—one for each student. The instructor would need to share each individual folder with the corresponding student. Instructors can also turn off sharing when it is time for the assessment to be graded. While this works well, this option for uploading students’ work can be very time-consuming if the class size is large.

Another option is to have the files sent using WeTransfer. This allows large files up to 2GB to be send to you an email with an attachment up to 2GB in size for free. However, this is 3rd party software and is not supported by IST. If you were to use this service, it is recommended you place received videos in a folder on your Google Drive as a back-up (plus they’ll be easier to find than scrolling through emails).


Additional Resources

Using Student-made Blogs as an Assessment Tool
CTL's Jennifer Ward shares her experience with using blogs to engage students. Read the article here.

Using Biteable As An Assessment Tool
Biteable is a program which allows you to create simple videos very quickly. In this webinette, you’ll learn the basics of the program and learn how some instructors have used Biteable to assess their student’s learning. You can create Biteable videos as an introduction for your online course/new unit of work.. Best of all, Biteable can be used for free. Watch here.


Grading eClass Assignments Offline

eClass Assignments allows students to hand-in assignments directly through eClass, however many instructors prefer to grade assignments offline. This video will show you a few tips for integrating offline grading into eClass. Watch here.


Links to IST Support Pages

IST Resources on Assessing Portfolios