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Manage Grades and Exams

Module by: Larry Ragan. E-mail the author

Summary: This module provides some advice about managing grades and exams in an online environment. This module is part of the Best Practices in Online Teaching Course created by Penn State University World Campus as a guide for faculty who are new to teaching in an online environment.

What to Do?

Figure 1: Photo, spreadsheet 1, photo #541349 , http://www.sxc.hu/photo/541349
Figure 1 (spreadsheet.jpg)
The grading structure for the online course is established before the course begins. Effective online instructors understand the role of assessment in student learning, and follow the institution's policies and regulations in handling grades and exams.

How to Do It?

  • Make sure the exams or other assessment activities are congruent with your course objectives; If possible, try to discuss this with your instructional designer before the course begins.
  • Clearly communicate to students the grading policies in your course, either in the course syllabus, announcements, or in the assignment instructions.
  • Specify grading policies in your syllabus. (Please see more at Tips for an Effective Syllabus by TLT)
  • Grade the assignment submissions in a timely fashion, especially those assignments that build on other assignments.
  • Include flexibility in grading if possible:
    • Allow students to drop lowest grade
    • Give choices for when students can complete assignments (e.g. Pick 2 out of 5, etc.)
  • Provide clear guidelines regarding your timeframe for responding to student questions and assignment grading. (For more information about grading policies and guidelines, please see module - Specify Course Goals, Expectations, and Policies)
  • Be aware that some of your students may need to submit their assignments and exams early to get grades prior to graduation, and this may affect some date availability restrictions that you set on drop boxes or other course components.
  • Discuss changes in grading policies or course gradebook with your instructional designer before the course starts.
  • Keep grades/exams related communications within the course management system (CMS) space.
  • Effectively manage your students' grades by using the gradebook that is part of your course management system (CMS)
  • TLT has some tips for managing grades using the ANGEL CMS. The site includes a sample file with grades, information about importing and exporting, and working with Excel. Even if you don’t use ANGEL, this will give you some ideas about how you can use a CMS to manage grades.

Why Do It?

Tallent-Runnels, et al. (2006) suggests that "managing student assignments, providing feedback to students, and assessing students' learning are all key factors in any course, whether face-to-face or online." The research findings summarized in their review have shown that online instructors could have more options in teaching, learning, and assessment through various online learning technologies.

The differences between face-to-face and distance education context "require a refocus and repurposing of classroom-developed assessment and evaluation" (Garrison & Anderson, 2003, p.93).

Reference:

Garrison, D.R. & Anderson, T. (2003). E-learning in the 21st century: A framework for research and practice. New York: RoutledgeFalmer.

Tallent-Runnels, M., Thomas, J., Lan, W., Cooper, S., Ahern, T., Shaw, S., & Liu, X. (2006). Teaching courses online: A review of the research. Review of Educational Research, 76(1), 93-135

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Definition of a lens

Lenses

A lens is a custom view of the content in the repository. You can think of it as a fancy kind of list that will let you see content through the eyes of organizations and people you trust.

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Lens makers point to materials (modules and collections), creating a guide that includes their own comments and descriptive tags about the content.

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