I. Course Design Principles>C. Assessments

I.C.4 The types of assessments selected are appropriate for the distance learning environment (for example, a fully-online course).

Values Supported



Instructors should consider that students are unlikely to comply with instructions to keep books and other materials closed when being tested in the online environment. Furthermore, when exams constitute the major portion of the overall class grade, it will be tempting for students to get unauthorized assistance. Therefore, all online exams should be considered open-book by default, and should focus on understanding and articulating concepts rather than rote-learned facts. Providing time limits on the exam (set by the software) is another way to deter the checking of external resources.

Appropriate assessment contributes to Alignment, because it is specific to the learning objectives of the course unit. Appropriate assessment contributes to Technology, because it recognizes the appropriate application of technological resources for a specific purpose.


It is particularly important for online instructors to have multiple methods of assessment, and many opportunities to check students’ progress. Instructors should understand that employing online exams is not a good method, because students have ways to subvert online methods of assessment, such as by having other students take the exams, or by sharing their work with other students in the course. Instructors should try a variety of methods for assessment, such as by assigning papers and reports that include requirements for submitting outlines and getting instructor’s feedback during the writing process, or group work that is specific to the course content. Requiring multiple assessment gives the instructor opportunities to become familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of individual students, which should discourage students from submitting work done by someone else.


“What Assessments Will You Use?”

“Relevant Assessment Strategies for Online Colleges & Universities”