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Teaching Online
Home » Faculty/Staff » Teaching Online » Assignments



Online courses need a greater variety of assessments than do F2F courses - and they should be more frequent. The list below shows the many different types of assessments that can be used. Also, online instructors should always keep their grading current - giving students feedback explaining their grades and suggesting ways to improve. All this not only helps students manage and appraise their work, but also helps instructors to check their own course effectiveness.


Types of Assessment


Quizzes, Tests, Exams
  • Experiment with different question types
  • It is helpful to students (although entails much work) if you write feedback to each test question choice with explanations for correct and incorrect answers - you can also cite where the correct information can be found.
Discussion Boards
  • Grade Discussions weekly or by unit
  • Clearly state grading policy and expectations on Discussions at the start of your course
  • Grade on quality (content-related, scholarly, not superficial) and quantity (number and length of posts)
  • Require that some posts be replies to or comments on other student posts
  • Check for posts that simply repeat other student posts or copy/paste textbook information
Written Work
  • Use a rubric with clear expectations to students - this avoids "why did you give me that grade?" See Rubistar for rubric examples.
  • Be clear on whether you also grade on spelling and grammar
  • For portfolios, presentations, and personal web pages, use a stated rubric for fairness with clear expectations to students (see Rubistar)
Group Work
  • Give both a "group grade" and individual grade (with a percentage breakdown for each)
  • Require a group project, but also accept individual work on the project
  • Have students detail the individual work they did on the project
  • Have members of each group rate/grade each other on a scale of 1- 10 on some criteria (have them explain their assessment in a sentence)
  • Use Peer Reviews
Skill Mastery
  • Interpreting graphs (economics), use of programming (CIS), mastery of skills (languages, math), interpreting language (Spanish)
  • Should not just measure login in time, but should also include Discussions, timely submission of assignments, email follow-ups to instructor, etc.
  • minimum login - 3 times per week has been suggested



  • Some use percentages (A:90%, B:80%, C:70%, D: 60%, F: below this)
  • Use credit/ncr (pass/fail) for some assignments with a fixed amount of points
  • Most recommend to not allow students to grade each other as trust in the class will plummet - (although one can allow comments or critiques on each other's work)
  • Extra-credit work allows much more flexibility in online courses especially for poorly performing students and those with time-management problems
  • For student complaints about grades, refer to your stated expectations or syllabus, give an acceptable example from the past, give suggestions for improvement
  • For information on how to use Colleague/WebAdvisor to submit final course grades: see The Server
Last Updated: 06/13/2018

In Focus

List of what to include as bulleted instructions for each assignment.
Article on how to construct and use concept mapping.
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