Dr. Siemens states assessment should be fair and direct based on stated outcomes (Laurette, 2008). One effective way to do this is through the use of rubrics. Rubrics clearly define expectations set by the teacher and shared with the student. Students who have a clear understanding of what is expected of them are able to perform better with a higher level of self confidence (Palloff and Pratt, 2005). Online tools that can be used to create rubrics are Rubistar and Teach-nology.Self and peer assessments are examples of other effective ways of assessing students (Laurette, 2008). This gives students an opportunity to reflect on their own contributions as well as the contributions of others in their group. Evaluating and reflecting on one's collaborative activity and doing a self assessment is an essential part of online learning (Palloff and Pratt, 2005). Dr. Parsons and the University of Dundee worked with the Blackboard Learning System to create a software program that allows for self and peer assessments. This software program is now an embedded feature of Blackboard.
At times a group may run into problems with an individual who does not carry his or her weight. Instructors have the opportunity to be proactive by setting the stage early on, clearly outlining expectations and modeling behavior. Instructors should also frequently monitor participation and send an e-mail or make a quick phone call if there is a concern. Often times a simple e-mail will help diffuse a small problem before it becomes a more complicated mess. Providing students with conflict management and conflict resolution tips is another way that instructors can help students (Palloff and Pratt, 2005). The University of California has a Conflict Management Skills site that has resources including a free downloadable book on Mediation and Conflict Management Book.
Laureate Education, Inc. (2008). Assessment of Collaborative Learning. Baltimore: Author.
Palloff, R. M., & Pratt, K. (2005). Collaborating online: Learning together in community. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.