Learning Contracts in Online and Blended Courses

Brenda Litchfield
Professional Studies, University of South Alabama

Developing effective assessment for online and hybrid courses can present unique challenges for both graduate and undergraduate level courses. Because many graduate course assignments are often project-based rather than objective-based, authentic assessment is becoming a motivating method of evaluation in many situations. In undergraduate courses where there is often a great deal of information that needs to be transmitted, the use of authentic assessment combined with objective-based testing can provide a more meaningful and satisfying experience for students.
 
There are many names for online assessment that use real situations and involve students in active ways. Authentic, alternative, and performance-based are regularly are used interchangeably. The term alternative assessment seems to be most appropriate because it is an alternative to the usual objective-based testing that is so prevalent in online and blended education today.

Alternative assessment is a more valid indicator of students’ knowledge and skills. It encourages students to be active participants in their own learning and moves them from a passive to an active mode. Rather than being on the other end of the computer receiving information, they are interacting with course content and developing meaningful modes of inquiry.

When students are actively involved with their learning, they are more likely to develop critical thinking and effective problem solving skills. This presentation will cover how to develop meaningful learning contracts and assessment for use in online and hybrid courses.