How to conduct remote student assessments

Tests are probably every student’s least favorite part of school. But that doesn’t take away from their importance.

In the era of COVID-19, when schools are turning to hybrid education models, it’s harder for teachers to gauge students’ understanding and enthusiasm levels.

After all, it’s one thing to give an exam when all students are present in the same place. It’s another to send out an exam and have students complete it at home, alone, with no supervision or assistance, and without the teacher having a clear idea of how much content the students have actually learned.

This raises an important question — how can teachers conduct remote student assessments that are fair, accurate, and useful for students? Here are several tips and tools that can help teachers create and conduct student assessments effectively from afar.

1.    Continuously monitor students

When teachers see their students every day in the classroom, monitoring their performance and capabilities is easy. However, social distancing has placed teachers and students farther apart than ever before.

Things that a teacher might pick up intuitively in the physical classroom can be very hard to see onscreen. That’s where student performance evaluation forms come in.

Online evaluation forms use relevant and enlightening questions to help teachers assess various aspects of their students’ performance. If students complete these forms periodically, teachers can get a big-picture view of where the class stands and what their learning needs are. This is crucial information that fills in the gaps that occur when teachers can’t interact with students in person on a regular basis.

2. Communicate directly with students

There’s no better way to find out what’s going on with your students than by asking them directly. Student surveys are an effective way to gain feedback on a range of issues.

For example, a survey can include questions about a student’s home learning environment. Do they have a quiet spot in the house where they can study in peace? Do they have access to a fast internet connection and a computer?

Surveys can also help teachers understand the feelings and concerns of students, and these are just as important as Wi-Fi details and Zoom functionality. Student surveys can cover any issues or questions necessary to properly assess the class. It’s just a matter of including the most relevant and important questions in the survey, which is easy to do with an online form builder and survey templates.

3. Create assessments for specific goals

There is no one-size-fits-all method for student assessment. The type of assessments you need to conduct will depend on the students and their capabilities, skills, ages, knowledge levels, and other factors. That’s why teachers must create and adapt assessments for different purposes and goals.

For example, if you’re teaching students whose first language isn’t English, you might need to assess their fluency level. You can do this easily when interacting face to face, but it’s a little more challenging in remote settings.

An English level assessment form is a great way to test students’ English abilities and rate them in comparison to the rest of the class. This provides invaluable information when teachers plan tasks and assignments, and helps them to adjust their expectations of comprehension abilities.

Digital form templates are easy to customize according to your students’ needs, and they make the job of collecting and consolidating the results much easier and quicker.

4. Teach students to self-assess

Teachers have plenty on their plates besides checking up on their students. That’s why it’s important to train students to become self-assessors.

In a hybrid learning model, students have no choice but to become more independent. They have to make sure they attend scheduled online classes, complete their projects and assignments on time, and reach out to teachers and counselors when needed.

It’s a good idea to formalize this independence with self-assessment tools that help students accurately monitor their learning levels and needs. During COVID-19, students and parents have grown accustomed to completing mandatory self-health checks and self-declaration forms to attend school and extracurricular activities. You can use this same model for student self-assessment surveys.

5. Try to incorporate face-to-face assessments

Nothing can replace the personal interactions between teachers and students, and that’s why it’s important to schedule individual sessions with students whenever possible. Even if you only have enough time for one individual meeting with each student per semester, it’s still a valuable use of time.

A one-on-one assessment gives you much greater flexibility to get to the heart of each student’s progress and needs. You can improvise and guide the conversation to get the most information in the shortest amount of time.

If you can’t manage to hold individual sessions, consider scheduling assessments with small groups of students. This is a good way to build a vital interpersonal connection while also saving precious time. You can conduct individual assessments virtually or face to face for students who attend school part time.

6. Create practical tests and simulations

There’s much more to learning than remembering information and regurgitating it for written tests. For remote assessments, in particular, you need to do all you can to get students enthused about the process.

When possible, use practical exams and simulation-style tests rather than dry, written exams or multiple-choice questions. For example, you could assess several students at once in a live debate, or you could conduct a practical art assessment over several online sessions. As long as you’re assessing the students’ knowledge of the study material, any test format that can excite and engage them is a bonus.

7. Take a flexible approach to tests

Exams and tests are a huge sticking point in remote learning. Opportunities for cheating are rife, which means teachers won’t necessarily gain an accurate picture of a student’s knowledge. These kinds of obstacles demand a more flexible and creative approach to student assessment.

Conducting oral exams is a good option, as students must be present and focused in real time. However, oral exams are time-consuming and may not be possible with large classes. Another approach is to create several sets of exam questions and conduct different versions of the exam in small groups at staggered times.

Rather than conducting exams infrequently, covering a large amount of subject matter, it might be wise to run smaller tests on a regular basis. This way, you get a richer, more nuanced assessment of student performance — while keeping students engaged and on their toes.

Some schools and universities are adopting proctoring tools to conduct online exams. These tools monitor and validate exam takers to ensure the integrity of their results and the quality of the educational institution in remote learning environments. This is an effective solution for schools that have the resources to implement it.

The shift to deeper learning experiences

The global pandemic has created significant challenges in education, but it has also brought some positive trends too. One of these is a paradigm shift toward deeper learning experiences.

For now, the days of whiteboards, school bells, and exam halls are over. But this has opened up new learning opportunities layered with digital EdTech tools, original teaching methods, and creative, out-of-the-box ideas. Forget marking 30 test papers. Remote student assessments are a new way to help students grow and thrive.

This article is originally published on Oct 12, 2020, and updated on Oct 19, 2020.
AUTHOR
Teacher, sister, mother and ass-kicker. Experienced teacher with a digital twist. Outside the classroom? She lives on the dojo.

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