Designing Performance Assessments

Performance Assessments:
Knowing the HOW as well as the WHAT

Studies have identified a significant ‘skills gap’ between what students are currently being taught and the skills employers are seeking in today’s global economy. Our children must be better prepared than they are now to meet the future challenges of our ever-changing world. ` Stephen Covey
Authentic assessments apply activities where students show through demonstration that they “get it”, that they understand. Tests and quizzes measure how much a learner has memorized and well they can regurgitate it (Palloff & Pratt, 2008). For an authentic performance assessment, begin by thinking about what is you want your learner to accomplish. What real world problem do you want them to solve?
For the purposes of this discussion, choose one of two topics: peer assessment or performance assessment. Begin by reviewing information in this week’s Learning Resources. Based on your own experiences, chose and define how that assessment pertains to real life. Is it a real world problem with a real world solution? What do you perceive to be the advantages and disadvantages of the assessment you chose? Is the assessment you chose easily observable? Can it be assessed using authentic assessment criteria? What are some potential advantages and disadvantages of this type of assessment for instructors?

Food for thought: Assessments

• Useful for serious thinking about complex issues
• Useful for customizing learning and making it relevant to learners’ lives and goals
• Can incorporate challenges from current events and multidimensional issues
• Gets learners engaged and involved in real-world issues
• Good preparation for learner projects, either individual or group
• Useful for critical thinking

By Wednesday:

Post your thoughts on the advantages and disadvantages of assessing your chosen topic from the perspective of the instructor and the learner. Propose two strategies, approaches, or guidelines that you consider to be “best practices” for managing and assessing your topic in an online environment. Be sure to cite information from the Learning Resources to support your thinking.

By Sunday:

Read a selection of your course mates’ postings. As you read their responses, note those to which you would like to respond with advice, questions, comments, and/or encouragement.

Respond to at least two or more of your course mates’ postings in any of the following ways:

Explain why and/ or how you see things differently.
Ask a probing or clarifying question.
Share an insight from something that interested you in reading your course mate’s posting.
Offer or support an opinion.
Validate an idea with your own experience.
Expand upon or ask for evidence that supports your course mate’s posting.

Return to this Discussion thread in a few days. Read and respond to the responses to your initial posting. Reflect on what you learned in this activity and/or insights you gained this week.

To allow adequate time for responses, please make your initial posting by Wednesday of Week 1, and your responses by Sunday of Week 1.

Please follow this link for the rubric:
MSIDT.Discussion.Board.Rubric a



The Internet links in this course are provided to you as a courtesy. This site does not own or operate and is in no way responsible for the content of the websites to which you will be directed upon accessing the links. This site makes no representations or warranties as to the sites’ content, does not attest to the accuracy or propriety of any information located there, and does not endorse the sites or information on the sites in any way.
The Internet links in the Resources section are provided to you as a suggestion only. You are welcome to use any blog site you choose as long as your colleagues and the Instructor can access the site.


Blackboard 9.1 – Self and Peer Assessment (Student Instructions). (n.d.). YouTube. Retrieved August 15, 2014, from
Boettcher, J. (n.d.). e-Coaching Tip 3: Developing Effective Questions for Online Discussions. Judith V. Boettcher. Retrieved August 15, 2014, from
Covey, S. (n.d.). Skills Quotes. BrainyQuote. Retrieved August 13, 2014, from
D, K. (n.d.). Authentic Assessment. YouTube. Retrieved August 15, 2014, from
Images for Bell Curve Assessment. (n.d.). Bell Curve Chart for Performance Assessment. Retrieved August 15, 2014, from
Peer and Self-Assessment: How and Why. (n.d.). YouTube. Retrieved August 15, 2014, from
Performance Assessment: Assessing Know-How As Well As Know-What. (n.d.). Big Picture Personalized Learning One Student at a Time an innovative education alternative News. Retrieved August 13, 2014, from
Week 7 Discussion Thread. (n.d.). Assessing Collaborative Work. Retrieved August 15, 2014, from

Plagiarism Detection and Prevention

In our ever advancing technological era. It seems that cheating and plagiarism are still alive and well. It may even be easier due to the ability to cut and paste. It may also be that it is actually more visible because it is online. (Laureate Education, 2010). In order to avoid using sources as your own work, simply correctly cite resources you have used, providing you have at least some information, using tools online such as , <a href=””>,,,, to name a few. With online tools available, there really is no excuse not to have a Resources or References page.


Plagiarism detection software is available and in use, do not think otherwise. Some software available are,, and

One website lists 10 Plagiarism detectors/checkers: There are many more available. For some of these checkers/detectors, it depends on the content.


According to Dan Carbera’s article Tips to Reduce the Impact of Cheating in Online Assessment found on, there are steps for preventing and reducing cheating on tests and homework assignments.


For testing:

  • Purposefully Select Assessment Methods
  • Mix Objective and Subjective Questions
  • Use Question Pools
  • Randomize Questions
  • Limit Feedback
  • Set Timer
  • Display Questions One At A Time


For Homework:


  • Create Application Assignments
  • Create Group Assignments
  • Create Assignments that Require Presentations
  • Check for Plagiarism using SafeAssign
  • Use Discussion Assignments
  • Include Academic Integrity Policy Statement in the Course Syllabus


With these designs in mind, it may reduce the instances of cheating, but won’t completely eradicate it. Is it 100% preventable? In my opinion, it is 95% possible if we educate students on fair use, copy right, etc. If in doubt, ask a Librarian! (Laureate Education, Producer. 2010).


As a future online instructor, I plan on using whatever the university / company has in place first, if they have one. I have downloaded to my computer and will utilize that as a tool as well. As far as testing and homework – for an educational setting, I really like Dan Cabrera’s list. Some of these (for testing and creating homework assignments) I have thought of and used. I think they worked well and the students had to have the knowledge to answer the questions. I do not mind open book or open note testing. I prefer it as it lessens the testing anxiety. They still need to know their way around the material as it will have a time limit.


I like this statement. “If students trust their teachers – to help them learn, and not to penalise them unfairly – they are much more likely to put energy into their studies” (Martin, 2004). I feel if an instructor can get to “know” their students in the beginning of class and build up a level of comfort and trust, they will more than likely do their own work. Having positive and constructive feedback fuels my cells. I know my ideas are seen and heard. If someone reading them likes what I have to say, that is just a bigger boost to “be me” and to keep doing a good job or better with the posts / assignments. Having policies and rubrics in place, rules to follow and be guided by, is a great help. One knows where they stand. If ever in doubt, JUST ASK!





Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R. (2010). The online teaching survival guide: Simple and practical pedagogical tips. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.


Laureate Education (Producer). (2010). Plagiarism and cheating [Video file]. Retrieved from


Martin, B. (2004). Plagiarism: policy against cheating or policy for learning. 

Nexus, 16(2), 15-16. Retrieved from


Impact of Technology and Multimedia on Online Learning

Most everything we do in today’s world has some form of multimedia involved. We consistently access them 24/7, 365. In an online learning environment such as Walden U where classes are asynchronous, it is imperative to use multimedia in oder to transfer knowledge to the students. Much of what is learned is through videos, reading, blogging, writing posts, pictures, animations, music, etc. We learn from the world around us in a highly technological age.

One of the most important considerations an online instructor should make before implementing a new technology is ease of use. Are the instructor and the institution familiar with the tool? Can the instructor give basic direction or troubleshoot an issue regarding the technology? If not, is the IT department capable of doing so? Some of the more well known tools we use are texting and instant messaging, Facebook, Twitter, email, wikis, blogs, and YouTube. For many, these are “basic” tools and can navigate them with relative ease. All of these tools require some level of being able to use a keyboard to type and interact with a computer. Having the ability to use these “basics” will help a student in an online learning environment with posting to discussion boards and posting the homework.

The most appealing technolgy tools for online learning are those that are “user friendly”. I would not want my students to be frustrated at having to learn a new technology if I were not familiar with it also. I like blogs as they can be accessed by groups and individual students. Wikis are great for collaboration and storing the information. Texting and Instant Messaging are great if one needs an answer ASAP.

One of the things that I learned was that there does not need to be a lot of different technologies presented for each course. USe one to three and keep it simple to avoind frustrtions. After all, in an online environement, it is quite possible, highly probable, that there will be non-English speakers as students. If I, as the instructor, cannot explain or guide a student regarding a particular technology or multimedia tool in my native English, how will I be able to do so for a non-English speaker? (Boettcher, 2010).

Without the technologies and multimedia tools available today, our online learning environments would be more like the old correspondence courses with limited to no interaction. If that were the case, it would be better to be back in a brick and mortar environment where there would be human interaction and an exchange of ideas and learning.

Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R. (2010). The online teaching survival guide: Simple and practical pedagogical tips. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Setting up an Online Learning Experience

As students, when considering taking an online course, we examine all the technologies that we will need and that are available. As an instructor, we must do the same. Knowing the basics or essentials of technology and the technologies that will be used in your classes is imperative. According to Boettcher and Conrad (2010), when designing a first course, one should keep it simple and design around using he essential tools of the course. Once you have those down, you can expand your technologies.

Some of the basics are being able to upload documents, setting up discussion boards, using the gradebook, assigning students to groups, and learning to use the course management system (Blackboard, Moodle, Sakai, etc.) for your institution. If you are unsure of the CMS, ask your institution if they have online programs, workshops or tutorials so you may learn to use it properly (Boettcher and Conrad, 2010).
Several basic used are: email, announcements, audio/video lectures, blogs, and more.

Of the core learning principles, “Learners bring their own personalized and customizable knowledge, skills, and attitudes to the experience” (Boettcher and Conrad, 2010). Communication is key, especially in an online environment where there is little to no face to face interaction between students and instructor. If the information is given in a clear and concise manner, then there will be little room for ambiguity and miscommunication. “Clear and unambiguous guidelines about what is expected of learners and what they should expect from an instructor make a significant contribution to ensuring understanding and satisfaction in an online course’ (Boettcher and Conrad, 2010).

Clarifying how this will work or not work will help to create a trusting learning environment. Other considerations that need to be taken into account when setting up an online learning environment are international time zones, cultures, and ELL students. The first issue can be worked around through the use of email, especially if the “office” hours do not coincide with decent contact times. The instructor and the student can work out their communications.

Other cultures may observe different holidays than the US and this will need to be taken into consideration. The third item on the list is English Language learners. Their grammar and syntax may not be perfect however, we can all learn from one another. Hopefully, they will ask for help if/when needed.


Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R. (2010). The online teaching survival guide: Simple and practical pedagogical tips. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Online Learning Communities

Online learning is becoming more and more accepted, available, and expected in education from middle school to university levels. Online learning communities impact both student learning and satisfaction within online courses. According to Pratt and Palloff (2010), students co-construct meaning, support one another, draw information from each other, professionally support, correct, and give feedback in an online environment.

An instructor is not only a facilitator, a guide, but also an integral part of the online community with the students. It is their responsibility to create a safe environment so students can be who and what they are and to be able to talk freely without stress or worry. In this environment, they can freely express their own opinions (Pratt and Palloff, 2010).

One of the essential elements of online community building is the People. Through an online discussion community, one can get a sense of another, a social presence, to interact / communicate with others in the community. A second element is Purpose. What are the rules of engagement? HOW will the learners engage? How often will student learners be expected to participate? For official purposes, how often does the institution expect learners to participate? A third element is Process. Traditional methods and strategies used in a brick and mortar environment just do not transfer over to an online environment. The Power in a learning community is the learner to learner engagement. It is empowering for students to be responsible for their own learning. As social constructivists they are transformed into scholar / practitioners (Pratt and Palloff, 2010).

Online communities can sustain themselves when the instructor is as an equal partner – everyone is engaged, involved and present. Other means are through dialog and reflection. Reflecting on the learning helps to deepen the learning.

The benefits of an online community model are student satisfaction, perception of learning, feeling part of something larger than oneself, and social pressure to succeed. Being actively engaged in one’s learning helps break down feelings of isolation.

Several of the things I learned about an online community and being an effective instructor are: make the course easy to navigate, make the class warm and inviting, visit the classroom several times a day for the first two weeks, post a bio and encourage the students to post a bio, welcome each student individually, model behavior for students, create an icebreaker activity – does not have to be mandatory nor graded, relate to students on a personal level, and be familiar with the technology used in the classroom. If the instructor becomes “real” and approachable, it helps put the student at ease and helps with satisfaction and retaining students.


Laureate Education (Producer). (2010). Online learning communities [Video file]. Retrieved from

Reducing Scope Creep

The Scope Creep

According to, “Project Scope creep is also known as focus creep, feature creep, function creep, and requirement creep. Project scope creep in project management refers to uncontrolled changes or added objectives in a project’s scope. This phenomenon can occur when the scope of a project is not properly documented, defined, or controlled. It is generally considered a negative occurrence, and thus, should be avoided” (“Project scope creep,” 2014).

While I do not have formal experience as an ID or PM, I can provide a scenario. We are currently planning our 30th High School Class Reunion. Of course, we are scattered all over the place. However, with Facebook as a tool, it has made “finding” some people much easier. There are the few who refuse to go on FB so we have to find them the old fashioned way through detective work, phone calls, emails, calls to their parents. One who has been “missing” for a long time was found by a couple of us working together. We were so excited to find him and look forward to finally seeing him again!

So far, the biggest hurdle is nailing down a date. Many people have children or are just starting their families. Trying to work around 250 +/- family schedules is quite difficult. While we thought we had a date in the Fall, it turns out that it will now be late Summer.

Another issue was the venue. They had it nailed down but then budgets are tight and this would have been a doozy to fit into anyone’s budget since the economy has not been good for many people these last couple of years.

So to recap, we have changed the dates and the venue, so far. Now there are a lot of folks who would rather have it at another time. Personally, I think it would be grand to have two smaller reunions and if one can go to both, all the more fun! However, there will be no way of pleasing everyone. It’s not for a lack of trying as evidenced by the two major changes already.

The stakeholders in this case are the alumni and the Reunion Team. Although folks want to have a reunion, not many want to step up to the plate and actually do any of the work, for whatever reasons. The Team has done a great job trying to accommodate as many folks as possible. Getting a 100% turnout will not be possible. Since the dates have changed, the rates for hotels and gas may be cheaper. The dinner was changed to a venue with cash bar, dinner and pay as you go. Everyone is responsible for their own meal and drinks instead of the traditional “sit down” and all is included except for drinks.

Scope creep in this case, came in the very beginning. The Team made good use of their time and brainstorming sessions and came up with a venue, food, and drinks, that was a doable model for most folks attending. The Team did a great job of managing the scope creep, or function creep, and getting it in check ASAP.

The one constant in life is change. It is in how one manages the change that makes the difference. According to Portny (2014), “Avoiding scope creep is not possible. However, monitoring and controlling it, reduces some of the pain”.


Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Project scope creep. (2014). Retrieved from