This page outlines considerations for identifying options for assessment, particularly in online courses. Additional resources and information is available on our main assessment page.

The Purpose of Assessment  

Assessment activities are a key component of any course and is especially important in the online environment. Relevant assessment activities provide opportunities for students to meaningfully engage with course materials and demonstrate progress and fulfillment of learning outcomes

Assessments allow students to: 

  • Practice applying knowledge and skills 
  • Engage with course content in a meaningful way 
  • Receive feedback on their learning 
  • Reflect on their learning 

Assessments allow instructors to:  

  • Create opportunities for students to practice skills and apply knowledge 
  • See evidence of student progress and engagement with course material 
  • Determine where students might be struggling with course material 
  • Provide relevant and timely feedback based on how students have demonstrated their learning 

What Should be Assessed? 

Assessment activities should always align with course learning outcomes. This includes not just the course content, but also the type and depth of learning you hope students will achieve. It’s important to focus on the tasks students are to perform and the skills required, as well as the content.  

When Should Assessment Happen?  

The most effective approach to assessment is to include low stakes assessment activities throughout the course in addition to summative assessments, such as final exams and assignments. In online learning environments, low stakes assessment activities are an important way for students to practice using specific tools and skills required for online learning and should be included early on in the course. Assessments can also be linked to build upon one another. The table below describes some of the many options available for assessment activities that can be included in the online environment.  

Formats and Tools for Online Assessment Activities 

Type of Assessment Activity Online Format and Tools Resources Available 
Written and other types of assignments The Brightspace quiz activity can be configured to accept long or short answer questions. Students can also submit written work via the assignment activity in Brightspace.
Projects The Assignment activity in Brightspace can allow almost any file type, permitting students to upload materials like PowerPoint files, video and audio recordings, and images of handwritten text, diagrams or equations.
Presentations Students can submit recorded presentations by creating or uploading an existing video in Brightspace using Personal Capture and KMS Go apps available to everyone at Carleton.
Student portfolios cuPortfolio is fully integrated into Brightspace and allows students to create rich ePortfolios documenting their work throughout a course or program.
Oral exams, interviews Synchronous web conferencing tools can be used to hold oral exams, interviews or other types of real-time presentations and interactions.
Tests and quizzes Quizzes and tests can be directly translated into an online format using the Brightspace quiz tool. The quiz tool supports a wide variety of question types (written, multiple choice, fill in the blanks, matching and many others) and can be configured in a variety of ways, including specific availability and time limits, accommodations for students who require them, settings to support academic integrity, and more.

Academic Integrity 

There are many opportunities in online courses to promote and ensure academic integrity as part of your assessment activities.  

Communicate with your students about the nature and importance of academic integrity:  

  • Familiarize yourself and your students with Carleton’s Academic Integrity Policy 
  • Openly discuss the importance and value of students completing their own work as an integral part of the learning process 
  • Ensure your students understand your expectations, including properly citing sources, not falsifying or modifying results, and when collaborating with classmates is appropriate 
  • Provide students with opportunities to practice key skills, such as citation, research and documentation, before they complete significant projects or assessments 

 Design assessment activities in a way that promotes academic integrity: 

  • Have students explain their work as part of the assignment – this provides evidence that they have understood the material 
  • Linked assignments give students an opportunity to break large projects down into smaller tasks and get feedback along the way 
  • Implement settings in online quizzes and tests to reduce the potential for cheating, such as using question banks and randomization, time limits and other measures 
  • Where appropriate in the learning process, move beyond questions that involve memorization of information towards skills like applying knowledge and analyzing ideas 
  • Create authentic assessment activities where students perform relevant real-world tasks related to the field of study 

For additional information and ideas, you can review our Academic Integrity Resources or contact to arrange a consultation.  

Accessibility and Student Accommodations  

Providing a variety of ways for students to demonstrate their learning is an important component of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and benefits all students. Variety also enhances the learning process by giving students more ways to practice skills and engage with course material.  

When designing your assessment activities, consider the format and requirements of your students. Where appropriate, include alternative formats, such as accessible PDFs and Word documents, to ensure that all students can access and use materials.  

For online tests and quizzes using the Quiz activity in Brightspace, student accommodation requirements (i.e., Paul Menton Centre) can be administered via Quiz Overrides. 

The Quiz Overrides function allows instructors to set unique quiz/test/exam parameters for individual students (via the User Override function) or groups of students (via the Group Override function). An instructor might use an override to provide a student extra time on an exam, to allow an extra attempt on a quiz, or to provide access to a quiz, test or exam on a different day.

If you require any assistance with Quiz Overrides, please submit a request to the TLS Support Portal.

NOTE: For Paul Menton Centre (PMC) students, all accommodations must be individually entered via User Overrides. Group Overrides cannot be used as this function would reveal the special group the students had been put in.