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Data Benefits of Digital Testing

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The Benefits of Automated Grading-

Using digital testing gives teachers the opportunity to quickly perform pre-assessments that can guide teachers forward in curriculum.

  • Using digital testing gives teachers time. Teachers often spend hours in a week grading papers, projects, homework, and tests. Digital testing frees up some of that time for them to be able to spend in planning.
  • Using digital testing allows for an increase in feedback for both the teacher and the student. Exit tickets give teachers immediate feedback on how the lesson was received and understood for the next day (or even the next period). Automated grading gives the teacher the opportunity for students to have a better sense of their knowledge along the way. I would even go as far to say that there are definite times assessments should not be in the grade book. Use this option as a tool to help students learn what they need to learn. In many digital platforms like below in the LMS Canvas when setting up quizzes you can actually give students multiple attempts so that it is not only an assessment tool for the teacher but it allows the student the opportunity to master the concept by going back and practicing/studying and taking the assessment again.
  • Are you assessing in order to have grades in a grade book or are you assessing to know what your students know to get them to the ultimate goal of mastery of your curriculum concepts?
  • If you aligned the questions you entered into a quiz with an outcome (i.e.- standard, essential understanding) and you then knew what individual concept your students were not understanding, would you use that information for each student?
  • What if data helped you drive your day to day instructional strategies? Would that immediate feedback be useful to you? Could you adapt your standard mode of operation to include rethinking the next day’s curriculum instead of grading papers for 1–2 hours every day?

The HOW of Data Mining inside of Canvas

Much of the feedback I hear from teachers that don’t want to use digital assessments is because of fear that students would have access to assessments because the answers are “out there.” Breaches are possible, we hear about them daily but I firmly believe the benefits you can have as a teacher due to digital assessments far outweighs the potential detriments of having to make a new test. I also believe wholeheartedly that Canvas offers many ways to make a test more secure.

Create Question Banks- When creating assessment questions inside of Canvas, you have the ability to create question banks to group concepts.

  • Open Quizzes
  • Click 3 vertical dots at top right and choose “Manage Question Banks”
  • Click on “Add Question Bank”
  • Once you add the question bank you hit enter and can now go in and edit it to add questions.

When adding question banks, think about what categories you want to create for the test at hand. Think about the outcomes you want your students to master within the test. Now create some banks that will allow you to test your students using different questions regarding those same outcomes. For instance, if I am teaching students the concept of the differences between vertebrates and invertebrates I could have a question bank with the label “vertebrate/invertebrate” and add multiple choice questions inside that would ask which animal is vertebrate.

Why do this? I can then add a question in the quiz that would chose one question from that bank but different students would have a high probability of receiving a different question than their neighbor. The more questions you add to the question banks, the more likely the tests will be different for each student. Did I mention you can upload question banks to Canvas as well?

Alignment of Quiz Questions to Outcomes/Standards- Create Outcomes that align to your course mapping.

Now that you have created question groups, you have the chance to take the feedback to the next level. Attach the questions to outcomes associated to your course You could also associate the outcomes as you add the questions in one fluid step of creation. Outcomes can be found in the navigation toolbar within a course (you will need to create these as well). Any teacher worth their salt can grade a stack of tests and see patterns of lack of comprehension, it’s part of being a teacher. But with digital testing you have the ability to look at that data in a whole new way. To drive instruction forward for your entire class, select groups, or individuals. Not only that, what if you could see the mastery from year to year? What if last year’s math teacher could tell you the fundamental struggles the students you are about to teach have?

Why do this? Data is a four letter word but it doesn’t have to be a bad word. We as educators tend to think of data as something being done to us, but by creating outcomes that match our course mapping, we can see how well students are understanding individual concepts as detailed or big-picture as we want to know. The benefit of attaching outcomes to quiz questions is two-fold:

  1. It allows you to see the details of what concepts your students are grasping. It allows you to see more detailed information for each student beyond the quiz analytics currently available. It allows you to adjust and fill in gaps for students.
  2. It helps you, as an educator, to intentionally think about your assessments in terms of the learning outcomes associated with your course. This can aid a teacher in creating assessment questions that are meaningful for feedback.

If these concepts seem interesting to you. Check out how your can use Mastery Paths inside of the LMS Canvas to differentiate the learning pathway based on student need.

1 Comment
Community Contributor

Hi julieddavis

Thank you for sharing this - lots of great ideas to work with 

I will pass these on to the teachers I work with