Assess Learning

Whether you are teaching in an online, in-person, or hybrid learning environment, student learning outcomes inform decisions about which form(s) of assessment is best suited for your course.


This page contains suggestions and resources to modify your current forms of assessment, given our current teaching and learning circumstances, with an emphasis on exams, group papers/projects, and Canvas support.

Alternative assessments

Why might you want to replace a final objective exam? The reasons can range from practical to pedagogical and may include threats to academic integrity, disparities in students’ access to technology, or discovery of better ways to assess learning. 

Depending on the specifications of your assessment(s), you will collect student work/responses via Canvas Assignments (papers and projects) or Canvas Quizzes (objective exams). 

Papers and projects

If you are using a paper or project for the summative course assessment (or in addition to an objective exam), review the following considerations:

  • Presentations can be conducted synchronously online via Zoom, or recorded asynchronously via Panopto and submitted to a Canvas assignment. Find more details about using Panopto for student presentations including instructions for your students by importing the Panopto Student Presentation Module Ready to GO Module from the UWF Canvas Commons. 
  • Student hardware/software may be limited – use as little technology as required to meet the outcomes AND ensure it is accessible for all students.
  • Make the project transparent by defining a clear: (1) purpose linked to course outcomes, (2) task and procedure for completion, and (3) criteria for scoring – provide a rubric if possible.
  • All technical guides for required technology should be provided to students in the project instructions. Do not assume students know how to use a particular tool or know which tools are needed to complete the project.
  • Scaffold experience by providing assignments and feedback across the semester that build up to the final paper or project. 

Group projects

Group projects may pose particular challenges during our current teaching and learning situations. To ensure the success of group projects, consider the following:

  • Ensure the collaboration aspect of the group project is critical to the course learning outcomes before proceeding - if it's not, turn it into an individual project
  • Allow students to self-organize groups based on their availability
  • Monitor group progress (recorded Zoom meetings, meeting minutes, synchronous check-in with instructor)
  • For personalized advice, schedule a consultation with your local teaching center.

Objective exams

If an objective exam is the best way to assess your course’s learning outcomes, there are a number of ways to discourage academic misconduct that can occur in online testing environments without relying on an external proctoring service. Small but impactful modifications to your current exams can lead to more meaningful assessment of student learning while maintaining the rigor and integrity of your course. Refer to the Ways to Ensure Academic Integrity Online GOLD Resource for recommended ways you can improve test security. Also visit our Proctoring Service Comparison Chart for more details on the proctoring options available at UWF. 

Modifying objective exams

While you may decide to make changes to the content and delivery of your exams for a specific reason, such as, to improve test security, you will likely discover that the changes you make improve other aspects of your course as well, such as student learning, mastery of content, and performance on other assignments. Some modifications are as follows:

  • Break down the content of an exam into smaller components that become quizzes that occur frequently throughout the semester.
    Organize and sequence quizzes to parallel fundamental course concepts and related vocabulary as they are delivered through readings, lectures, and learning activities.
  • Use standard objective questions (multiple-choice, T/F, fill-in-the-blank, and matching) in frequent, low-stakes quizzes to test for less complex learning outcomes, such as identify, define, and recognize.
  • Use short answer essay prompts or other open-ended questions to test for higher order thinking, such as compare/contrast, apply, and predict.
  • Given sufficient time, consider developing a larger pool of test items in order to create equivalent versions of the same exam content.

Return to the Fall 2020 Online Resource Guide