Assessing Learning in Hybrid and Online Environments

Measure. Evaluate. Analyze.

Assessments have been a focal point in many conversations as we continue to transfer our courses to a flexible model. It's important to consider a variety of assessment styles to gauge student learning in a course, this is even more pertinent in hybrid and online settings. The assessments we create should provide information about student learning and be used to guide our instruction. Meaning many of our assessments can be more frequent, low-stake forms based on the learning goals of the course. Providing a structure of ongoing assessment provides students the opportunity to identify missed learning objectives and informs everyone where additional support is needed. Series of assessments that are designed toward the skills and knowledge that is continually built upon gives students an opportunity to improve rather than missing entire objectives. Another tip is to be strategic in the timing of information presented to students and upon deciding when and how students should be able to communicate their learning. 

Assessment Tools

Canvas Quizzes

Canvas Quizzes- Students respond to a series of questions is a web-based form. Assessment types include exams, quizzes, and self-checks.

Canvas Assignments

Canvas Assignments- Students can submit deliverables individually or in groups. Completion of papers, presentations, group work, and peer reviews.

Canvas Discussions

Canvas Discussions- Participants engage in conversations asynchronously. Assessments include: debates, conversations, information sharing, and Q&A


Utilizing Zoom's features like conferencing, chat, and breakout rooms allows for participants to engage in audio/video conversations. Assessments can include presentations, debates, and real-time collaborative work.

Providing Student Feedback

Assessment in a course should be a communication between the instructor and the student about what they're learning. Students are able to show their understanding of concepts and instructors affirm objective mastery, misconceptions, and provide clarity. Well-designed courses provide multiple check-points that provide the instructor insight into student progress before higher-stakes projects/exams/ or assessments. This allows the instructor to modify their instruction and adjust their learning strategies.

How can I provide meaningful feedback to a 300-student course without it becoming overwhelming for myself or my AIs?

  • Use real-time learning checks like Poll Everywhere or feedback features on Zoom during synchronous meetings.
  • Add quick checks in Canvas via Quizzes
  • Split the class into groups in Canvas and assign and AI for support. This is also helpful for creating a smaller community within such a large course.
  • Notice trends in student submissions and provide feedback. Record brief videos that address these or utilize announcements and discussion boards. Provide adequate examples in correcting misconceptions.
  • Use Canvas's quiz statistics to identify commonly missed questions.
  • Give students the tools they need to self-assess or conduct peer-reviews, such as rubrics.  

Students are struggling with concepts previously covered in class.

  • Consider multi-stage assessments where students complete it individually, but can then retake it immediately with a group.
  • Provide practice exams and provided them the opportunity to document their though processes, this can allow them or help you identify with them the sources of error.
  • Allow students to re-take the exam and recover some points that were missed in the original assessment.
  • Use Canvas's auto-generated feedback option when designing quizzes. These explanations appear right away.

Flexibility in Assessment

As we consider students attending classes remotely, it's important to realize that not all students will have access to the same technological tools or reliable internet access. Approaching assessment in a variety of ways lets your students know that you acknowledge these differences. This also provides students to show objective mastery in different ways and can often allow for a deeper understanding of topics covered.  Consider the suggestions below to diversify the assessments in your course:

Multiple Choice Exams:

  • Consider open book/resource and group exams. Be clear about the resources that can be used and ask students to submit a list of resources they used to complete their exam. You can also reconsider the types of questions you are asking. Instead of multiple choice, ask students to analyze images or graphics, find errors in a process, or integrate several course concepts into a single problem. 
  • Replace exams with a project. Creating milestones for students to submit towards an ongoing final project will keep students on track with a clear outcome in mind. 
  • Break large exams into many lower-stakes assessments

Student Access to the Course:

  • Survey your students early to get an idea of their plans for accessing your course. For international students you will want to make sure you are allowing a full 24 hours of exam availability to provide everyone access.
  • If students are accessing your course via a phone or another similar device, ensure you allow multiple types of submissions: doc, pdf, jpg, etc.

Maintaining Academic Integrity

We all know that our current situation and adapting to a new learning environment is challenging for educators and students alike. Stress among many other factors can increase the temptation for integrity violations. In a remote setting it's important to create a community within your classroom with clear expectations of academic integrity. Some useful tips to deter such temptation include:

  1. Connecting with your students early
  2. Create a statement of values with student input
  3. Course standards and expectations are clearly identified
  4. Choosing the right assessments
  5.  Give academic integrity statement reminders
  6. Monitor student progress and reach out often (academically and well-being)






Other Useful Assessment Resources