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Week 3: Assessment – SNC #DigPINS
Week 3: Assessment

What does a person know, or what are they able to do? What’s the proof? How well does it match our goals? These are the core questions of any kind of “assessment”. A good assessment can be a valuable chance for reflection, a significant accomplishment, or a set of meaningful, achievable activities. When assessments feel disconnected from our goals, or like they’re not a valid reflection of our abilities, they get a deserved bad rap.

This week we’ll be looking at some of the different options we have for assessing student learning in digital environments. (You may also want to reflect the way we assess faculty research, or institutional accomplishments.)



This week’s big activity will be “social annotation”. Using a tool called Hypothes.is, we’ll look at our readings together, highlighting and making marginal notes in digital form where other folks can see them. Here’s a quick video introduction to Hypothes.is.https://www.youtube.com/embed/e235JwmmEcQ?feature=oembed

Wednesday will be “Social Annotation Day”, during which we’ll annotate this week’s readings. Pick a reading and read it closely; make your marginal notes as you gain insights, find questions, elaborate on concepts, or recognize connection to other works. We’d suggest starting with either the Kris Shaffer or Barry Sharpe readings; the Andrew Rikard and Robin DeRosa readings have already been annotated by others. Of course you can join those conversations too, but sometimes it’s easier to start with a lightly annotated text.

Like our Twitter slow chats, you can jump in at any time, but do try to check in a couple of times on Wednesday to see how the conversation is going. You will need to make an account to participate, but you don’t need to provide anything but a username, email address, and password. We find it easier to use Hypothesis through its browser extensions (Step 2 on this page) but there is a web interface which we’ll link below, if you’re skeptical about adding extensions.

And as always, we hope you’ll

  • Blog some reflections about assessment and Pedagogy, Identity, Networks, or Scholarship – see below for some prompts.
  • Please take some time to read other folks’ posts and comment.
  • Continue the conversation on Slack and Twitter.


On Assessment and Digital Pedagogy

  • Alternative Approaches to Grading – Maha Bali, Mia Zamora, Jasmina Najjar, Laura Gibbs, Clarissa Sorensen-Unruh, and Arley Cruthers.
    • This is a video conversation in which several educators discuss their approaches to grading and the way it influences their classes’ sense of community. The web page includes an extensive collection of resources about ungrading/alternate grading schemes. (Unfortunately there’s no transcript, so you can’t annotate the video itself.)
  • Why Grade? – Kris Shaffer (Hypothesis Link)
    • This is a more theoretical piece about the purpose of assessment and the way grading doesn’t always support that purpose.
  • Grading as Instruction: Designing for Practice – Barry Sharpe (Hypothesis Link)
    • This is a case study of the way one faculty member explicitly connects formative assessments to his course’s final project (which serves as a more summative assessment).
  • Do I Own My Domain If You Grade It? – Andrew Rikard (Hypothesis Link)
    • Written by a student, this piece asks us to consider how much agency students really have when we assign them to work in public.
  • My Open Textbook: Pedagogy and Practice – Robin DeRosa (Hypothesis Link)
    • This piece examines both the pedagogical underpinnings and the nitty-gritty details of a project in which students wrote an open textbook.

Blogging Prompt

Assessment is core to what we do in education, which means it’s tightly connected to our PINS. So our prompt for the week is to do some reflection about the ways one or two of the PINS affect your choices in the ways you assess knowledge in your courses and in your profession. You might want to pick one or two of these examples to work with. (Please don’t try to address all of them!)

Assessment and Identity: How do you like to demonstrate your own knowledge? How do you dislike being asked to demonstrate it? What kind of assessments do you enjoy designing and grading? What kind do you not enjoy?

Assessment and Networks: Who do you go to to talk about assessments? Do you bounce ideas around, consult formally, find ideas from particular people or places or groups?

Assessment and Pedagogy – How does your department, or your discipline, think about assessments? How do changes in the approach to assessment in one class impact the rest of the curriculum? (You might notice that this is also kind of a question about Networks.)

Assessment and Scholarship – How does your discipline recognize digital engagement as scholarship? Do digital scholarly projects have to be documented in journal articles to be “valid”? How is public intellectualism in electronic media considered?