How Online Instructors Evaluate Your Performance
November 14th, 2011 by Dr. Bruce Johnson
By: Angelita Williams
Would you like to know how your instructors evaluate your performance? As an online instructor, I can take the mystery out of the grading process and help you understand what’s required so that you can perform well by sharing the methods many instructors use when they review your discussion board postings and evaluate your assignments..
Instructors Operate On a Schedule
First, let’s consider your instructors’ perspective and how they plan their week. This can help you understand why sticking to deadlines is essential as an online student. In addition to teaching online, you will find that most of your instructors also have a full-time job, often in a field that is related to the subject matter they’re teaching. Just like a student, your instructors have to balance their responsibilities and develop an effective time management strategy. For example, throughout the week, I make time to participate in the discussion boards during the evening hours and begin to review students’ work for the past week then as well. Typically, I complete the majority of my performance evaluations on the weekend, which is when I have the most time available to thoroughly review what my students have completed.
Instructors Personalize Their Comments
Many instructors will utilize shortcuts to help them manage the amount of feedback they need to provide. Most online universities require instructors to provide feedback for the discussion board postings and written assignments within seven days from the end of each class week. To help cope with this enormous task, instructors often keep a bank of comments stored for their feedback, which they can tailor as needed. The challenge then is to provide personalized statements for each student so that comments don’t sound like a canned response. For written assignments, instructors usually read students’ papers and insert comments and notes as they review it.
Instructors Grade On a Points-Earned System
Here’s something that may surprise you – your instructors are not the ones giving you grades. Instead, they’re determining the points earned for each performance requirement and it is the accumulation of points earned that results in your grade. How do instructors determine the points earned? Most instructors will utilize rubrics, which look like a table or grid that have points allocated for each of the criteria. This helps eliminate guesswork when evaluating the students’ work and transforms subjective feedback into objective feedback by focusing on the criteria.
Evaluating Discussion Board Postings
How do instructors evaluate your discussion board postings? The criteria usually include a word count (if required), posting due dates, the quality of postings, number of participation postings, and the mechanics of each message (spelling, grammar, APA formatting, etc.). The expectations for your discussion board postings should be established, often within the course syllabus or other postings by your instructor. When feedback and points earned are provided, there should be a breakdown given for each criteria. If you cannot find the expectations and do not receive an itemization, ask your instructor. As an online instructor myself, I welcome an opportunity to talk about each student’s performance and progress.
Evaluating Written Assignments
How do instructors evaluate your written assignments? The basic criteria they assess include the content of your assignment and the writing mechanics. For my feedback, I utilize a rubric and I post that rubric at the beginning of the class week so students can review it as a means of self-checking their work. Because your instructor is familiar with the material and the range of possible responses, they are able to quickly assess your response without being subjective.
I look for students to develop new and original ideas about the topic, supported with credible sources. In addition, I evaluate their critical thinking skills and this includes analyzing the topic, synthesizing new information, developing new ideas or solutions, and evaluating the possible outcomes. Most online universities also require instructors to monitor the students’ papers for originality and utilize plagiarism review services. The most widely utilized plagiarism checker is Turnitin, which scans billions of pages on the Internet. Any time you use information from an existing source, be sure to include a citation because that will prevent it from appearing on the plagiarism report.
As I review the mechanics of a written response, I evaluate proper use of spelling, grammar, and sentence structuring. While I read each paper, I’ll highlight errors and insert comments to point out areas of development. Some online universities utilize automated reviewing services such as WritePoint, which will automatically insert comments directly into the paper that has been uploaded for review. Regardless of the method used by your instructor, carefully review the feedback provided and ask questions about any aspect that needs clarification.
Other Forms of Evaluation
In addition to providing points and feedback about your performance within the discussion board and your written assignments, many online universities also require instructors to provide an overall weekly summary that highlights your strengths and areas of needed development. What do you do if you don’t agree with any aspect of your feedback? Ask to talk to your instructor – and be open-minded about the discussion and willing to accept constructive criticism. Your instructors want you to do well and they’re willing to support your progress. Evaluating your performance is more than a matter of assessing points earned — it is a method of helping you improve and maintain consistent progress throughout the class.
Photo by Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot via FreeDigitalPhotos.net