Encourage Online Students to Assess and Reflect

Quality Review Showcase

The Quality and High Quality online course reviews explore components proven to be best practices in online course design. This post showcases High Quality item, “Students are given multiple opportunities to self-assess and/or reflect on their learning (e.g., ungraded surveys, practice quizzes/activities, written assignments, discussions) throughout the semester.”

Becoming more aware of thoughts and processes can help students develop focused studying practices, as well as better understanding of personal strengths and challenges (Chick, “Metacognition”). In addition, asking students to assess their own work has several benefits; first, it encourages students to actively think about the strengths and weaknesses of their own work, instead of waiting for the teacher to provide initial feedback. It also helps the teacher better understand the thoughts and processes behind the student’s work that often goes unmentioned.

What Are Some Ways Your Online Course Can Be Designed to Meet This Standard?

  • Distribute a graded or practice quiz, or graded or ungraded survey at the beginning of the course about its main concepts, and then distribute a similar quiz or survey near the end. Select a quiz if you’d like students to view correct answers or if you prefer the answers to be graded; select a survey if you’re more interested in them getting credit for completing it, rather than right or wrong answers. At the end of the second quiz/survey, ask the students to reflect on their knowledge progression over the semester.
  • As one criteria of an assignment, ask students to assess their work by a provided rubric. What grade would they give themselves and why? 
  • Use the Polls tool to encourage students to check their own understanding throughout the online module. If the course has a face-to-face component, consider using a classroom response system.
  • Create an online discussion at the end of the semester and ask students to share their biggest takeaways from the course. Some of these can be shared the next time the class is taught (do not include student names).

What Does This Look like in a Real Online Course?

Example 1. Classroom Response System, Cecilia Milanes, LIT3383.

Dr. Milanes incorporated a classroom response system in her large, mixed-mode version of Women in Literature. Three polling sessions were employed in every face-to-face session which served multiple purposes, including taking attendance. One class polling question focused on female literary honorees, including Pulitzer Prize winners. The students surprised themselves with their lack of knowledge about important female writers. This item prompted students to reflect on this lack and why it might exist. Other questions asked students to think about their own studying practices (below), which then prompted an in-class discussion.

I take notes in class question

Example 2. Perceptions and Reflections Online Discussion, Sandra Wheeler, ANT3026.

At the beginning of the semester, Dr. Wheeler asks students to discuss their initial perceptions about the supernatural. Near the end of the semester, she asks them to revisit those initial perceptions and reflect on how the perceptions of the supernatural world may have changed after taking the class.

Pre reflection discussion post - screenshot
post reflection discussion post - screenshot


Chick, N. Metacognition. Vanderbilt University, Center for Teaching. Retrieved from https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/metacognition/ 

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