A Gallery of Ideas

by Jeanne Kerl

Distance Learning responds to a need

As we develop courses with instructors here at SPS (the School of Professional Studies), we often discover that instructors want to try something new as they assess student learning. They are tired of doing just papers or problem sets. Our learning designers created an Assessment Gallery so that instructors can review sample assignments, discussion board posts, and even rubrics created by faculty members as they go through our development process.

Our initial strategy when we started building out the gallery, was to view this as an internal tool that we could share with SPS instructors as we were designing their course, but then the pandemic hit and we decided to share the gallery with any Northwestern instructor who was taking the Practicum or who signed up for a workshop about online teaching.

Assessments are organized into categories

We organized the assessment section of the gallery into useful categories that include :

  • Community Building
  • Work Artifact Scenarios
  • Navigating Contested Terrain
  • Student Agency
  • Achieving Consensus

These categories help instructors think about commonly used approaches. Within each category, instructors can dive deeply into detailed assignment directions. This might generate a new idea for the instructor. Many of these ideas can be applied across a variety of disciplines.

Why ask to view the gallery?

Any Northwestern instructor can email distanceeducation@northwestern.edu and you will be put in the gallery—which is a Canvas course site.

But why would this be worth your time?

The most common reason that I have heard in talking with instructors is that their course is too repetitive, and they want to offer a more creative approach. The gallery inspires their thinking.

Another reason we have heard mentioned is that a specific assignment is not getting the results that they expect from students, so they want to refresh their thinking. They know their learning objective; they just want to rethink how to assess students.

Rubrics & discussion prompts, too

The gallery also includes samples of rubrics created by SPS instructors. This is one of the most common requests that we get from our faculty during the course development process. A quick peek at the examples in the Assessment Gallery gives instructors a few solid ideas about how they might approach the creation or revision of their rubrics.

Discussion board prompts can also get repetitive, so we encourage instructors to mix it up and try something new. By exploring the gallery, you might discover a novel approach that will help you reinvigorate the discussions in your class.

Remember, all you need to do to see the Assessment Gallery (assuming you are an instructor at Northwestern) is to email distanceeducation@northwestern.edu with your request.

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