Topic 4: Developing Assignments


"What I hear, I forget. What I see, I remember. What I do, I understand."

Assignments fall into two classes: objective or inquisitive.

Objective Assignments

Objective assignments are used to assess, review, and apply factual information.

A learner can select from multiple choice answers and receive feedback. If the instructor uses a course management software package, such as E-tudes or WebCT, the grades can be automatically posted in the gradebook.

Use Objective Assignments to:

  • automate grading
  • reinforce mastery of factual information
  • provide learners with instant feedback

Most objective assignments ask learners to interact only with the content – not with each other or the instructor. Objective assignment are ideal for the multiple-choice format.

There are three basic functions of objective quizzes and tests:

  1. the gate—the student must master this content before advancing.
  2. the onramp—the quiz can be used as a study guide where computer gives constructive feedback until the student gets it right.
    Example: Goal or Objective Quiz
  3. assessment—to assess how well the student mastered the information.

Examples of Objective Assignments

Study Guide Quiz for Diane Wang's HTML course

K. Gibson's Standard Template Library (STL) for C++ Tutorial

Examples of Rubrics

Blue Web'n Site Evaluation Rubric

multimedia presentation checklist

Rubric: Behavioral Objectives (from this course)

Web Design and Accessibility Rubric

Inquisitive Assignments

Inquisitive assignments help people reflect, analyze, and extend the learning. Some teachers with large numbers of students use combinations of collaborative inquisitive assignments and objective assignments. They often offer the collaborative inquisitive assignments as extra credit or in lieu of a quiz or test. That way, the students who show initiative take advantage of the collaborative project, but the instructor doesn't have to spend an inordinate amount of time prodding and helping with group projects.

Use Inquisitive Assignments to:

  • apply complex ideas or procedures
  • demonstrate comprehension of complex ideas
  • develop a project plan (budget, management plan, or publicity campaign)
  • encourage creative thinking
  • encourage questioning of abstract ideas
  • spark the growth of unique view points and perspectives

Examples of Inquisitive Assignments

  • write (article, review, essay, report, etc.)
  • create a Web site
  • create artwork (icons, illustrations, photographs)
  • exercise critical thinking skills
  • experiment
  • explore with interactive simulations
  • foster group discussion
  • participate in a critique lab (students post their work and other students critique their work)
  • research
  • summarize

Examples of Assignments in the Online Medium

Interactive simulations
(You will need the Flash or Shockwave plug-in installed to view these interactive multimedia projects.)

  • Nutrition instructor Betty Clamp designed a series of interactive lessons. Students read text, view videos and animations, and then perform diet analysis by experimenting with an interactive online calorie and body mass calculator.
  • "Explore Science" features highly interactive science activities for students and educators allowing users to change variables and see how that effects the outcome. For instance, students can learn about additive and subtractive color by changing the values and seeing the results.
  • Susan Dean, Math Professor at De Anza College worked with Round World Media to develop two interactive lessons including an interactive linear regression calculator that allows users to enter in the x y coordinates and plot a line of best fit.

Online Community

There are basically three types of collaboration in online learning:

  • group projects — participants produce something
  • group discussions — participants discuss topics
  • peer critiques — members provide constructive criticism of each other's work

For more information on online community:

"Online Activities at Your (Electronic) Fingertips... A How-To Guide for creating the best online activities that really work!" by Scott Hildreth, Nancy Masterson, Ginny Wallace March 2000

"Collaborative Learning Using Online Tools," produced by @One


"Teaching/Learning Activities" by the UMUC-Bell Atlantic Virtual Resource Site for Teaching with Technology. shows samples of online assignments.

"A Brief Summary of the Best Practices in College Teaching
Intended to Challenge the Professional Development of All Teachers," compiled by Tom Drummond North Seattle Community College.

"A Framework for Designing Questions for Online Learning," by
Lin Muilenburg, MA University of South Alabama and Zane L. Berge, Ph.D.
This article describes a theoretical framework for designing questions for starting online discussion and follow-up questions to maintain the discussion. This framework is placed within a broader context of discussion within a constructivist, online environment. Numerous examples of discussion questions that were gathered from experienced online instructors are presented with the goal of preparing students and teachers to participate effectively in online discussions.

"Moderating Educational Computer Conferencing" by
Robin Mason Institute of Educational Technology The Open University


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