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What Can Online Classes Contribute to Assessment?
Unformatted Document Text:  Hispanic), a dummy control for instructor and, importantly, a control for previous-term grade point average (GPA). Our results point to a robust and independent effect of discussion engagement, as measured by postings read. Interestingly, the “reading effect” is strongest for students who entered the course with the lowest GPAs and declines in potency as GPA increases. Online courses can thus be useful sources of data to assess student engagement. In our study, students were not required to read a specific number of postings, meaning that the data we collected from our online course management program reflects to some extent students’ self-motivation and engagement. Online courses can also nudge students to become more engaged by requiring to engage in interactive behavior in online discussion boards. Finally, our findings map out strategies instructors of online classes can use to increase student learning. Conclusion In conclusion, online courses lend themselves for student assessment and can consequently provide a useful building block for departmental and program assessment. Online course software facilitates the assessment of online courses in Political Science because most online course software packages have built-in tools for analysis, and all student contributions are recorded. For example, auto-graded quizzes provide evaluations for each question, thus making it easy for instructors to assess which concepts students have successfully mastered. Discussions are all available in writing, which allows the instructor to take samples of discussions that could be analyzed for writing skills, mastery of the substantive material, or correct referencing skills. The same is true for essays or 13

Authors: Hamann, Kerstin., Pollock, Philip. and Wilson, Bruce.
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Hispanic), a dummy control for instructor and, importantly, a control for previous-term
grade point average (GPA). Our results point to a robust and independent effect of
discussion engagement, as measured by postings read. Interestingly, the “reading effect”
is strongest for students who entered the course with the lowest GPAs and declines in
potency as GPA increases.
Online courses can thus be useful sources of data to assess student engagement. In
our study, students were not required to read a specific number of postings, meaning that
the data we collected from our online course management program reflects to some
extent students’ self-motivation and engagement. Online courses can also nudge students
to become more engaged by requiring to engage in interactive behavior in online
discussion boards. Finally, our findings map out strategies instructors of online classes
can use to increase student learning.
Conclusion
In conclusion, online courses lend themselves for student assessment and can
consequently provide a useful building block for departmental and program assessment.
Online course software facilitates the assessment of online courses in Political Science
because most online course software packages have built-in tools for analysis, and all
student contributions are recorded. For example, auto-graded quizzes provide evaluations
for each question, thus making it easy for instructors to assess which concepts students
have successfully mastered. Discussions are all available in writing, which allows the
instructor to take samples of discussions that could be analyzed for writing skills, mastery
of the substantive material, or correct referencing skills. The same is true for essays or
13


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