Thursday, January 12, 2012

Module 3: Assessing Collaborative Efforts

According to George Siemens (2008b), participation in a collaborative learning community should be assessed by learners’ participation, learners’ knowledge of the content of courses, assigned tasks/projects/class discussion, feedback provided to members within the learning community, and social interaction with the instructors and other members in the learning community.  Instructors can also assess students how many hours they spent completing their assignments, how many times students logged on the various websites and resources for the courses, how much time students spend in group-related activities, and how may posts the students contribute to during a specific task or

The varying levels of skill and knowledge students bring to a course affect the instructor’s “fair and equitable assessment” of learning are based on the degree of the students’ growth.  When students can demonstrate their knowledge and understanding by engaging in the learning community, instructors are then able to assess them fairly and equally. 
According to George Siemens (2008a), if student does not want to collaborate in the learning community for an online course, other members within the learning community should make sure he or she understands what each member is being assessed on.  Students can participate in role-play activities to get the student who is reluctant to participate in the collaborative community.  Students must feel a sense of trust within the learning community to ensure all members feel comfortable to express their views and/or thoughts with others.  Information retrieved from also says that communication is vital to any teaching endeavor.   Collaboration fosters effective learning environments.  Members can email that person to see why he or she hasn’t participated in any of the collaborative activities with the learning community.  A telephone call from members of the learning community may also encourage and/or motivate that student to participate in the groups’ tasks.  When all members reach out to assist the students who may be reluctant to participate, he or she will gain the confidence to interact with other members in the learning community.  According to Palloff & Pratt (2007), students must feel a sense of trust, sense of belonging, sense of support, and a sense of membership. Students want to feel comfortable in a collaborative learning community. By doing so, students are then able to demonstrate their understanding of what they have learned by socializing and providing constructive feedback to their peers and instructors. Once collaborative efforts are made among members within the learning community, they can achieve the desired outcomes.

Instructors’ most important role within a learning community is to assist students in forming, shaping, and empowering their learning community. As a result of this, students will nurture, extend, and use their learning community to developing and share meaningful knowledge with others. Learning communities are more productive when they possess social interaction rather than individual exploration. Once collaboration among members in the learning community exists, students are then able to achieve and show their goals for learning.  Instructors must also get community leaders involved in learning environments in order to provide students with real life experiences. Instructors need to exposed students to different learning activities, so they will gain a better understand of the courses’ concepts. Whether students are to use Wiki or any other social networking website, educators need to model what is expected of them in order for positive communication and relationships to develop. 

Once the students within the learning community are able to demonstrate true collaboration amongst members, instructors will be able to provide the necessary feedback for members to be successful.  Students can also provide other members of the learning community feedback that will assist them in gaining the desired outcome of the group.

Comeaux, P. (2005). Assessing online learning.  Bolton, MA: Anker Publishing Company  information retrieved from

Laureate Education, Inc. (2008a). Principles of distance education. Baltimore: Author.

Laureate Education, Inc. (2008b). Principles of distance education. Baltimore: Author.

Palloff, R. M., & Pratt, K. (2007). Building online learning communities: Effective strategies for the virtual classroom. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Shannon B.Casimier   


  1. Shannon, In real life after school, employers do not give credit for participation. The only thing that counts is the end product. Why should education be any different?

    1. Durff,
      I agree with you that majority of the time employers do not give their employees credit for participating, but everyone needs feedback to ensure they are on track to achieve the desired outcome whether it's the corporate world or in education.

      As Educators, we must provide all students with feedback to ensure they understand what is expected of them to complete a task, assignment, and/or class participation. Providing feedback (whether it's positive or negative) will allow students an opportunity to reflect on what is required of them to be successful in their studies. Shannon~


    I liked a lot of what I read this week. Then I thought "how does this work in the time of No Child Left Behind and standardized tests?" How could we ever possibly grade based on improvement or growth? Students ate judged, in 2011, as either proficient or not. They either meet the standard or we have failed. It doesn't matter if they have growth if they are notproficient. I knowing.sound negative, but like so many wonderful things I learn about in grad school, this type of assessment would.not fly in my school and the students are loosing out.

    1. Luke,
      Majority of the students we teach struggle when it comes to standardize tests for various reasons. I strive on grading my students on the growth they can demonstrate through class participation, oral presentations, and/or pen/paper assessments. I teach students with various disabilities, and majority of them become very nervous about pencil/paper assesses, so I work with them often one-on-one to see if they can demonstrate their understanding of new skills. Whether it's oral presentations and/or pencil/paper assessments, my students have an opportunity to demonstrate their understanding of what they have learned from the class lesson. This allows my to grade their growth academically, and also address all learning styles. Shannon~

  3. Shannon-I am in agreement with you-I work in a special edcuation school and our report cards/progress reports state either they have not achieved, on goal to achievement or achieved. We have to test them with ALT-MSA-which is way to high for our kids. Our kids need daily living skills which brings me to the point of improvement is documented in our school. I know this is totally off the subject but I enjoyed reading your post and comment.

    1. Sue,
      Thank you for responding to my blog. I assess my students by how they have grown academically whether it thorugh an oral presentation, a pencil/paper assessment, and/or a one-on-one demonstration of their understanding of the skills. Students as well as adults are often overwhelmed with taking pencil/paper assessments, so I give my students various opportunities/ways to express their understanding in my class especially those students who may have a learning disability and/or physical disability. As an educator, I try to meet the needs of all my students, so by using various ways to assess them ensures that they have an opportunity to be successful in their learning environment. Shannon~

  4. Shannon,

    I fully agree with your statement that instructors needs to model effective collaboration, especially since online collaboration is not naturally understood.

    @Luke - I too wish we could incorporate growth in student assessment, as many of our students are below grade level when they enter high school. Though they may fail my class because they have not met the state requirements, their growth brings them closer to this benchmark. Unfortunately this information does not appear anywhere in student assessment, only that the student did not meet the level of proficiency.

    1. Marvin,
      Thanks for responding to my blog. Often times learners are reluctant to participate in collaborative setting because they feel intimidated or lack self-confidence, and it's necessary for educators to model effective ways to collaborate to ensure that all learners understand how collaboration works in a learning environment. Shannon~