Week 5 Back Pocket Strategies

2. Mini Session: Assessing Participation

Goals of this Activity

In this mini-session, you are asked to facilitate an activity that gets at the challenge of evaluating and assessing participation in an online course. The readings in this unit have been chosen because they describe the problem and various attempts at solutions by educators and researchers.

In a nutshell, the problem is, how/can participation be graded online in a way that is fair, effective, and does not overburden the instructor?  (Note: "fair" and "effective" are both loaded terms that need some consideration)

You have the benefit of going last in the course – this means you have the most time to plan and to observe different facilitation approaches as they play out. Also, people will be "primed" for this activity, having chosen and used a rubric for self-assessing their own participation throughout the course.

Lead participants through a process that invites them to:

  • explore the problem and possible solutions/strategies for assigning grades to online participation
  • reflect and report on their beliefs and current practices
  • consider options strategies for assessing participation that they can actually use

Some tools & resources for you:

  • A forum has been created for you called, Assessing Participation.

Keep in mind: your time is short: you've got to run the whole activity AND get participants to give you feedback so you can submit your FLIF.

Therefore, it's critical that you're ready to go and "seed" the discussion forum at the beginning of Week 4– preferably before.

Remember that people will be in "wrap up" mode. So, even though this topic is of practical interest and aims to solve a real world problem most of us have in teaching online, just be aware that there is a lot going on – your instructions and expectations should be very clear, and the design/timeline of this activity should be tight.

We have come up with two suggestions/possibilities for running this activity – as always, you are invited to use some, all, or none of these:

Debate Format

The debate format goes something like this:

  • Split people into two sides – one side argues for, one against.
  • Choose a clear proposition statement (e.g., "it is possible to effectively and fairly assess participation online without overburdening the instructor")
  • Create a timeline/expectations for how the debate will play out, e.g.,
    • Day 1: connect with team and generate initial response to the proposition
    • Day 3 by noon: both sides post initial position statement
    • Day 5, by noon: post rebuttals to initial posts
    • Day 5, evening, post wrap up, decide (or vote/poll?) "winner"?
    • Last day: participants give you feedback on your facilitation

Gather and share perspectives.

Remind everyone to complete the readings, reflect on their use of a rubric to self-assess their participation throughout the course, and do one or more of the following:

  • Post their perspective on the problem (their experience may be the same or different as what is described in the readings, or, they may not have a problem at all!)
  • Explain their strategy for assessing participation (online, in FLO, or in class if they have never taught online) and any challenges they experience with their strategy
  • Talk to (or interview) one or two others about their approach, challenges, and strategies for assessing participation. Share and comment on these.
  • Create and share an "ideal", detailed rubric for grading participation in an online course (if they teach online, it should be for a real course). There are TONS of examples in the readings and elsewhere online. In doing this, they should provide enough information that someone could pick it up and use it. And they should indicate why this is their best solution.

A final note: by now, you have seen a number of tools used for a variety of purposes (poll, quiz, survey, forum, Collaborate, wiki, blogs, etc) – would you like to make use of any of those? If so, and you need our help to set it up, just ask!