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Assessment and Feedback

What Assessments Should I Use?

The online environment allows opportunities for:

  • summative assessment (Assessment OF Learning, primarily for grading purposes) and/or
  • formative assessment (Assessment FOR Learning opportunities, ungraded or low-weighted assessments for feedback purposes).

For more information on both, see The Balance Between Assessment FOR and OF Learning

Assessments can be completed a) online, b) off-line, but submitted on-line, or c) off-line. Submitting on-line allows you to use the Blackboard assessment functionalities, such as plagiarism software. The choice of assessments you use should align with the outcomes you are looking for, i.e. ‘learning through inquiry’, see table 1 below.

Table 1 Adapted from Laurillard, 2012

Learning Through...



(assignment submitted online)



In this form of learning students can be quite passive as they are primarily learning through reading or listening

Online quizzes   Exam
This form of learning requires students to search out, critique and use resources from different locations.

Concept maps, blogs, discussion fora, extended matching sets (MCQ)s Summary of investigation, problem-solution exercises Case study, research, project
In this form of learning students have to apply what they have learned into a given context in their discipline.

Role play, discussion, simulations, journals, scenarios with quizzes   Fieldwork, lab reports
In this form of learning, students are motivated to learn by having to produce an artifact.

E-portfolio, (MAHARA), website development Student generated images, videos, posters ..... Essay, Design project, portfolios
This form of learning requires students to interact with each other on-line to discuss issues.

 Discussion fora, other social media (Facebook etc.)    Tutorial participation, debate
This form of learning requires student to collaborate to produce an artifact.  The process of the collaboration is also very important

 Wiki (group process and product)  Individual and/or group summary Group project


Where do I Start?

When considering whether to use on-line assessments, the Australian Centre for Study in Higher Education (2013) provides a useful resource on some key issues to consider when starting this process.  Some of your options for on-line/blended assessments include:  

Written AssignmentsCase Studies
Essays Participation in online discussions, blogs
Interactivities e.g. drag-and-drop, labelling, sequencing Publication of student work/presentations: i.e. posters, concept maps
Online quizzes and questions, in particular higher-order MCQs Experiental activities such as role-play
Colaborative assignment work i.e. wikis Debates
e-Portfolios Reviews
Online exams (open-book, structured, timed) Simulations

 Adapted from 

See Enable Student Collaboration for details on assessing blogs, group-work, wikis and group discussions.

Be aware of both your own workload and student workload and where there has been opportunity for more feedback (formative assessment), you can reduce some of the summative assessment.

Feedback and Student Self-Monitoring

Good feedback should include staff giving feedback but more importantly it should allow student opportunities to self-monitor. The online environment can allow for both:

  • Automated feedback can be built into the quiz functionalities in Blackboard and give student some valuable on-going feedback on their learning. For one example of this see Indiana State University.  Staff can give feedback in many of the on-line tools, such as group discussions, wikis, blogs, assignments, see you-tube video on Giving Student Feedback in Blackboard. 
  • Having an opportunity for students to peer review each others work is a great opportunity for student to self-monitor their own work. This can be done off-line and uploaded, or online using Blackboard’s Self and Peer Assessment tool.  For more on how to encourage students to self-monitor their work listen to episode ten: Six Ways to Engage Students with Feedback from the UCD Teaching and Learning Focus on First Year podcast.


Careful use of assessment criteria and assessment rubrics, not only assist in the reliability of grading, but are also useful for student peer-review activities.  EdTechTeacher provides some example of rubrics for blogs, wikis, voice-thread projects, podcasts, video projects.

Assessment Functionalities in Blackboard

The Tests, Survey and Pool functionality in Blackboard allow you to set up a range of quiz-type questions, See Blackboard's On Demand Learning Centre for details on how to set these up.

Blackboard allows students to submit on-line and if required, through the plagiarism checking software, Safe Assign. When using SAFE ASSIGN function, give students some guidelines on how they should interpret the % plagiarism results, i.e. is a 20% result acceptable? Note the SAFE ASSIGN function does not allow dates and therefore will not populate into the TO DO function in the announcements page.

The functionality of My Grades can be set up to allow ‘provisional grades’ to be given to students. For more details on submitting on line and setting up Safe Assign, see UCD IT services video How to Post Assignments.      (note on a Mac you need to scroll to the right to access the columns on the right) .  For more on the Grade Centre click here

For UCD modules, set up your Assessment (including examination) details, assessment criteria documents, and all assessment functionalities in the  ‘Assessment’  button in Blackboard. It is also useful to put here any UCD or school policy links, i.e. links to UCD’s late submission policy, the school plagiarism policy, school referencing style. See Customise Blackboard section of this website.

  • Stödberg U (2012) A research review of e-assessment, Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 37:5, 591-604
  • Nicol, D. (2007) E?assessment by design: using multiple?choice tests to good effect, Journal of Further and Higher Education, 31:1, 53-64, DOI: 10.1080/03098770601167922
  • Buzzetto-More, N.A and Julius Alade, A  (2006) Best Practices in e-Assessment, Journal of Information Technology Education Volume 5,
  • Laurillard, D (2012) Teaching as a Design Science: Building Pedagogical Patterns for Learning & Technology. London: Routledge.
  • Sadler, D. R. (2010) 'Beyond feedback: developing student capability in complex appraisal', Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 35: 5, 535 — 550
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