The Magic of Blended Course Assessment

Concurrent Session 7
Streamed Session

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Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Drastic times call for drastic measures.  In the sudden shift to “remote learning”, higher education was struck with a drastic change in instruction using blended learning through videoconferencing.  Throughout this presentation, we will challenge participants to thoughtfully consider how to best measure learning through Blended Learning assessment.



Heidi Held, D.Ed., is an Instructional Designer here in eLDIG in the Smeal College of Business s at The Pennsylvania State University. She completed her D.Ed. in Administration and Leadership - Higher Education from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 2012. She received her M.Ed. in Adult Education from Pennsylvania State University in 2004. Heidi also teaches part-time for Purdue University. Heidi enjoys designing courses, creating video shorts, and working on assessments. Heidi's research interests include (1) benchmarking needs of adult students obtaining a Bachelor's degree; (2) student civic engagement; and, (3) understanding the use and effect of prior learning assessment. Heidi has worked for the Pennsylvania State University for over 14 years in program design, development, and delivery in a variety of capacities. When Heidi is not working at Smeal, she is painting, taking care of her family, or writing both fiction and non-fiction.

Additional Authors

Dr. Stephanie Edel-Malizia is currently an Instructional Designer for Penn State University, with over 20 years of experience as a leader in instructional technology spanning the k-20 realm. She completed her Doctorate of Education at Delta State University with the dissertation Design and Implementation of Faculty Development for Student Required Internet Use. As a faculty member at Delta State, Dr. Malizia worked as an Instructional Designer and Instructor. Stephanie has ten years of experience as a Pennsylvania Department of Education certified Instructional Technology Specialist, working eight of those years as the Director of Instructional Media and Technology Services for a regional Educational Service Agency. She is also certified as a Superintendent of Schools and a 2013 graduate of the Institute for Educational Leadership Fellows program. Stephanie has taught graduate courses in instructional technology and pedagogy for Penn State DuBois, St. Bonaventure University, East Stroudsburg University, and Clarion University. Her conference presentations include the European Conference on E-Learning, Online Learning Consortium, Educause, The Teaching Professor Technology Conference and the International Society for Technology in Education.

Extended Abstract

During the last year, we have seen a great deal of change to the teaching and learning environment online. Shifts in our University communities due to virus and workplace/financial challenges have changed the way we approach teaching and learning. During this session, we will discuss how to prepare faculty to best assess student learning in this new context. Our shift in context has left both new and seasoned faculty floundering for how to assess students in hybrid, blended, and remote learning environments. This session will provide information and practice for how to overcome assessment challenges in our current climate.

During this session participants will:

  • Discuss course attributes that need to be taken into consideration when determining if you will teach synchronously vs asynchronously. 

  • Consider your assessment philosophy in relation to shifting instructional methods

  • Cultivate a better understanding of the student experience

  • Discuss how to improve pedagogy with formative and summative assessment

  • Explore traditional and alternative assessment methods


During this session the speakers will first Introduce assessment for hybrid/blended learning through a quick Q&A, asking participant to identify and define key terms. This Q&A will evolve into discussing our take on what the future of hybrid/blended learning assessment looks like in our large University environment.


During our presentation, we will explore various course attributes that may lead to conducting assessment in a synchronous vs an asynchronous format.  This might seem obvious depending on the course delivery method, but really, the format of the class may have less to do with the format of the assessment then some other factors we’ll discuss, including levels of learning, time on task, and authentic assessment. 


When considering synchronous vs asynchronous assessment approaches, we will discuss the details of each of these attributes and ask for participants to share their thoughts and experiences by show of hands and brief whole group Q and A. One such attribute we will cover is the level of learning that is intended in the participant’s course goals and objectives and how it applies to their assessments. We will discuss with the audience the contribution of the higher-order thinking skills reflected by the top three levels in Bloom’s Taxonomy: they include Analyzing, Evaluating, and Creating. We will also cover lower-order thinking skills which are reflected by the lower three levels: Remembering, Understanding, and Applying. The conversation will continue on how time on assessment tasks should be considered when determining how to assess, synchronous vs asynchronous assessment.  We will also have a think pair share to allow participants to consider authentic assessment and its relevance to their courses. 


Throughout this presentation, we will challenge participants to think about their own assessment philosophy.  We will provide guidance on what is an assessment philosophy.  In good teaching, assessment drives instruction. It aligns with the instructional outcomes and ensures that students are meeting and achieving expectations.


An assessment philosophy considers several factors. Our presentation will cover the following considerations: 

  • Will participants use the learning through assessment approach in which feedback is created and used to improve students’ learning?  

  • Do they feel teaching for mastery is an important consideration?  Is it practical for their course?  In mastery learning, the goal is to have all students master the content before moving on to the next unit.  

We will use participant input to explore how good assessments are designed to show what a student knows, not what they don’t know.  We will highlight the concept of scaffolding. Scaffolding helps students learn by focusing first on smaller learning goals that support the major assignment or learning goal for the course.  We will explore these topics to get participants thinking about how their assessment philosophy may evolve as they shift to hybrid, blended, online, or remote learning. During our session, we will ask participants to take a few minutes to do a little exercise in thinking about assessment philosophy.  If online, we will use the annotation tool in Zoom for participants to indicate areas of growth and areas of strength in regards to assessment philosophy.  


In planning for assessment, we will discuss why it is important to consider the student experience, especially if moving assessments to an online or remote process.  We will discuss ways to minimize technical roadblocks and help students adhere to their academic integrity as they navigate a variety of assessment types. In large group format, we will have participants share the roadblocks to successful assessment at their institution.


Throughout this session we will look at formative and summative assessment from a high level, reinforcing the idea that linking actionable learning outcomes with student demonstrations of learning will ensure the success of the hybrid/blended course. We will ask participants to tell us about approaches they have used that have been successful in this context.


During this session participants will share experiences with both traditional and alternative assessment methods they have used in their hybrid /blended learning course. We will discuss challenges with examinations and quizzing in our LMS systems, and the motivation to continue to use these traditional methods. 


We will briefly discuss alternative assessments, drawing distinct connections to the learning objectives, and leveraging Blooms taxonomy to identify the level of learning and a corresponding activity that can measure student learning.  We will also and consider the use of group work for both formative and summative assessment.  We will quickly brainstorm around the use of group work, then discuss the pros and cons including; authentic assessment, 21st-century skills, freeloaders vs worker bees, and concerns over whether the group grade accurately reflects each student’s accomplishments.  Through this exercise, we will surface strategies for making group work a great option for assessment.


Finally, a focus on the use of performance assessment will allow participants to explore methods they may not have used before. We will lead participants to the concept that performance assessment requires students to create a product, demonstrate a process, or both. It uses clearly defined criteria to evaluate the quality of student work. We will introduce how to use the blended and hybrid environment to allow for structured, on-demand tasks to longer-term projects and portfolios. We will discuss the advantages of performance assessment for its ability to assess complex learning outcomes. As well as the disadvantages of performance assessment which stem from the difficulties arising from that complexity.


As described throughout this proposal the following interactions will be included:

Lecture presentation, small group discussion, interactive question and answers, audience contribution and think pair share etc.