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Assessment in Higher Education: Professional Development for Teachers (Coursera)

Are you a teacher in higher education wanting to get the best out of your students and assessments? Then on behalf of Risbo, Erasmus University Rotterdam, we would like to welcome you to this MOOC on Assessment in Higher Education. In this MOOC we will guide you through the different phases of preparing, creating and evaluating the assessments in your course.

After participating in this MOOC, you will be able to:

1. Design an assessment that is constructively aligned (content, level, methods) with the course objectives and activities

2. Apply the quality criteria with respect to validity, reliability and transparency for construction of assessments and assessment items

3. Analyze the assessment output and results, assess the quality of the assessment and make decisions about students’ grades accordingly

4. Formulate future improvements for an assessment

For the assignments, you will be working with your own teaching materials. For example you will create your own assessment plan for your course. Next to that you will become part of a learning community with teachers from all over the world.

We are offering you instructional videos, interviews, animations and checklists. In addition to these, there will be course activities, such as assessments, and discussion prompts. By participating in this MOOC, you will find answers to the following questions:

• What is the role of assessment?

• How can you select the right methods of assessment for your course?

• What is constructive alignment?

• How can an assessment plan and matrix help you in the construction of assessments?

• Is it possible to make an absolute reliable and valid assessment?

• How can the formulation of good assessment questions have an impact on that?

• What is the role of feedback?

• How can rubrics help with providing feedback?

• What are the things to consider when performing an exam or item analysis? What aspects should you look out for?

• How do you draw conclusions from an exam analysis and make plans for future improvements?

• If good students fail on certain questions, what does this say about the question… or about your teaching?



The role of assessment in higher education

In the first week of this course you’ll get insight in some basic but fundamental questions about assessment. Why do we assess in higher education? What are possible positive and negative effects of assessment? And in what way can we make an effort in choosing the most appropriate assessment method(s). Some leading experts on assessment are introduced to you and might enlighten your thoughts. Additionally, you will be introduced to the Utility formula, which will assist you in making purposeful assessment choices.

The Assessment Cycle


The Assessment Plan

As research shows, assessment plays an important role in steering the learning process. There is, however, not one best method of assessment. So, how can you select the right methods of assessments for your course? Making an assessment plan can help you select the right testing methods and decide on the relative weight of each assessment for the final result of a course. An assessment plan also helps to ensure that the assessment addresses the intended learning outcomes. In addition, it provides a good overview of the test arrangement for a course that will be published in the course manual. This makes an assessment plan a helpful tool for examiners and an important instrument for quality assurance. With an assessment matrix, you ensure that all the selected learning objectives are covered in your assessment. This also helps to ensure that your assessment will be both valid and reliable. Whereas making an assessment matrix may feel like additional work, using it will actually save you time as you will develop questions and assignments that exactly match your learning objectives and you avoid the risk of formulating too many questions that are aimed at the same content or skill.


Feedback & grading design

In module 1 you have learned about assessment FOR learning and the role assessments play in the learning process of students. In this module we will take this to the next step. You will learn why feedback is so important and how to provide feedback using rubrics. Did you know there are different types of rubrics? Depending on the function of the rubric each type has both its advantages and disadvantages. This module will help you deciding what type of rubric suits your needs. In the stage of grading, methods of setting a cut-off score are important. You will learn about different methods of setting a cut-off score and the advantages and disadvantages of these methods.

Graded: Assessment plan peer review


Assessment construction

The results of student assessments often have far-reaching consequences for their educational or even professional careers. When we allow our assessments to have such impacts on people’s careers, it is of the utmost importance that we are very sure that our measurement is reliable and accurate and a valid representation of students’ actual abilities…. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. The goal for this module is to help you to apply quality criteria for the construction of assessments and assessment items. Because, if we improve the quality of our assessments, we improve the quality of our education, and we will have a huge impact on the future education and careers of our students.

Graded: Improve (your own) multiple choice questions

Graded: Improve (your own) open ended questions


Assessment Analysis and Evaluation

When an assessment has been conducted, there is often a lot of time pressure on grading and publishing the results. However, an important step to take before communicating grades to students is to analyse students’ performance on the different tasks or questions. This will provide you, as an examiner, with invaluable information. Not only about your students’ performance, but also about the quality of your assessment as well as your own teaching. On which aspects did students perform well, and where did they fail? If good students fail on certain questions, what does this say about the question… or about your teaching? You may need to decide on how to fix certain errors or unexpected situations and think about how this affects students’ grades. What are the things to consider when performing an exam or item analysis? What do you look for? How do you draw conclusions and make plans for future improvements?

Graded: Assessment analysis & evaluation