In a matter of weeks, the pandemic uprooted the standard testing and assessment methods that many teachers trusted for years. If they weren’t already doing so in some capacity, teachers had to figure out new or more effective ways of creating lesson plans and grading papers for a remote education setup.
Of course, the result of this constant thinking and adapting has led to industry-wide burnout among teachers and students at all levels of schooling. If you’re reading this, you can probably relate. Fortunately, you can reshape your examination method during the pandemic, and this post will give you some ideas on how to do so.
Assign an essay
Depending on your subject of focus, your curriculum may incorporate weekly quizzes or tests. Quizzes work well in a traditional classroom. However, providing your students with the regular feedback and instruction they need weekly can be challenging when learning is entirely online. Written work is an excellent option to assess students on a different set of skills.
Unlike taking a test where students may need to memorize and regurgitate facts and stats, writing a paper requires students to use higher-order thinking skills. According to Bloom’s Taxonomy, remembering material is only the first step to learning, which means instructors need to supplement quizzes and tests for an effective pedagogical strategy.
Ask your students to write about a specific topic, subject, theme, or angle to reveal how much they truly understand the subject matter.
Tips for digital grading of papers
- Ensure that the paper is relevant to the course/curriculum and not a “throwaway” assignment.
- To facilitate the above point, ask students to submit portions of the paper bit by bit (i.e. topic in the first week, outline in the second and so forth)
- For more experiential classes, get them to write a reflective paper but still tie them into classroom theory and themes into their experiences.
Assign curated project work
As we mentioned in the previous section, quizzes and tests only assess students’ ability to memorize information. An annotation project is another solution worth using for assessments. Annotating texts requires both analysis and synthesis, hallmarks of higher-order thinking.
Tips for assigning & digital grading of annotation projects
- Assign your students to create an annotated portfolio of their best work, introducing each piece with an intro about their selected work and why they think it’s their best.
- Assign your students to create an annotated anthology of texts or media they had to read, watch or listen to throughout the semester (i.e. literature, music, films, visual art) and get them to write a synopsis and review for each selected piece.
- Assign your students to create an annotated research bibliography where they compile a list of research studies or articles, writing introductions and critiques about the accuracy and helpfulness of their chosen works.
Assign a professional presentation
One of the most significant conversations in the education world is whether the classroom—at all levels of schooling—truly prepares students for the workplace. You can use your revised pandemic curriculum as an opportunity to challenge that notion. Why not assign your students a professional presentation—something they might present in a corporate setting?
Presentations of this sort usually result in higher engagement due to the assignment’s medium needing them to connect directly with their audience or instructor. Additionally, when students work on a project that addresses a real-world challenge, they simultaneously learn more about an industry they’re interested in while acquainting themselves with the skills needed for that industry.
A presentation also opens up more opportunities for you to delve into how well your students understand a subject (based on their research arguments). You can also expand or contract your focus of grading on different presentation elements (i.e. topic selection, the strength of their viewpoint, organization of points, etc.).
Tips for assigning & digital grading of presentations
- Ensure that your students’ topic of choice is suitable and relevant to the subject and that their presentation follows a clear and predetermined structure (provided by you).
- Be flexible with assigning a presentation—you can use them for any subject and grade them for various aspects, so be creative.
Reduce COVID burnout with an online grading platform
The pandemic has undoubtedly challenged the typical approach in assessing and grading students, creating mental health challenges and teacher burnout. However, now is not the time to be discouraged. Think of this as an opportunity to get more from your students through smart digital grading and valuable assessment choices as they learn remotely.