How teacher can effectively assess English learners online?

Student assessment online

Student assessment online


  • Teaching qualifications
  • Tips & Strategies
  • Methodology

The 21st century has seen changes in student assessment. Although the use of traditional paper and pencil methods has some benefits, new technologies are constantly being developed to help teachers in their work.

We can use a variety of tools and approaches in the offline classroom, including creating projects that serve as evidence of student learning, assigning progress tests, requesting presentations from students, etc. But what about evaluating student achievement in an online classroom?

We have selected some online assessment techniques that will assist your teaching, captivate your learners, and give you an understanding of how your students progress. 

Let's first find out what assessment is, though.

Assessment and its purposes

In a nutshell, assessment is the process of learning about what learners already know as a result of their educational experiences. Its outcomes are often used to pinpoint trouble areas and make sure the course satisfies students' learning needs, i.e. evaluation and improvement of student learning are the common objectives of the assessment.

There are various types of assessment, each with a specific goal in mind:

  • formative assessment
  • summative assessment
  • benchmark assessment.

Formative assessments are usually conducted throughout an online session or course and are intended to measure how well students know and understand the topic, and are coping with the course. Such assessments work best when they are ongoing, consistent, and give students on-time feedback.

This type of assessment allows a teacher to assess both instruction and student progress. If necessary, you can modify the course materials to meet the needs of the students by going over important ideas again or even moving along more quickly.

Summative assessment evaluates what the student has learned after finishing a course and is occasionally referred to as the final exam. It can vouch for how well your material reinforces the course's learning objectives and is usually completed at the end of the course or instructional unit, and focused on the results of the program.

Benchmark assessment refers to evaluating student performance in relation to a set of standards. Regardless of the subject you're teaching, you'll have a set of goals you want your students to achieve during the course. This could be in the form of a list of things a student is can do.

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Practical ways to assess students online

Tests involve more than just grades. They help students achieve success by presenting opportunities for reflection, interaction, and application of their knowledge to answer questions, deal with issues, and communicate information. How can this be incorporated into our online classes?

Games and quizzes

Written tests are less engaging than resources that let students use their own devices to respond to questions. Students and games love quizzes and games because they are fun, and are a perfect way to measure learning outcomes if you teach a big number of students.

You can design interactive tests that students can complete in real-time using tools like

Such activities can increase student involvement and really bring formative assessment to life.

Surveys and questionnaires

Such activities make it possible to get immediate feedback on the educational experience from your students. 

They can be used to analyse anything, from student choice during a session to learning satisfaction. Because they give respondents the opportunity to express their thoughts, make their voices heard, and can be completed quickly, online surveys are quite engaging for students. 

Platforms like QuizzizSurveyMonkey or Plickers are compatible with different devices and can be used for face-to-face and online teaching.

You can also utilise questions to quickly draw your students' attention to a crucial topic or to ease the tension during an online group interview. You can easily conduct a mood poll for the latter.

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Peer assessment

Building relationships between students is especially crucial while learning outside of the real classroom. You may do both at once, improving their prior knowledge while fostering stronger peer relationships.

You can divide students into pairs and assign them to breakout rooms on Zoom or another platform you use to complete many of the same comprehension-testing activities they previously completed in class.

The teacher should, as a best practice, explain the procedures of a peer review and assessment process prior to launch. Make sure to give each student a checklist or set of instructions.

Drag and drop activities

Such exercises are perfect if you're looking for a quick formative testing activity to see how well students have understood a concept.

This kind of exercise can be created using a variety of online tools like ClassToolsPowerPoint, etc. Then, you can include it in your presentation/whiteboard or share it directly with students via a link.

Drag and drop format is perfect for labeling, matching, ordering, and classification activities. 

Use classification and matching activities to test students' knowledge of vocabulary. Gap fills demonstrate how well they have absorbed new grammatical concepts. Use them as well as ordering activities to check their listening and reading comprehension.

Virtual exit tickets

Exit tickets, or students' written responses to prompts or questions at the end of the lesson, are a common kind of formative assessment that is simple to implement online.

To keep the information confidential, you can maintain a running Google Doc for each student. Alternatively, make the information available to the class by putting questions on a website like Flipgrid, where students can view and comment on each other's responses.

It's a good idea to ask open-ended questions to gain a deeper understanding of students' thinking, for example:

  • Today was challenging because…
  • How is this connected with [a previous lesson]?
  • What questions do you still have?
  • What impressed me the most today was...

Digital projects and portfolios

Projects work well for formative assessment.  They enable you to assess students' development in a variety of areas, including subject knowledge, language proficiency, oral and written communication, and teamwork skills.

Students can use digital resources at any stage of the project: research, gathering and analysing data in groups, creating a final product or presentation, and finally presenting the project to the class.

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Extended writing or speaking activities are an alternative way to gauge learners' comprehension of complex language and topics. You may invite your learners to draw, write, or record their ideas for evaluation purposes depending on their age or level. In their digital portfolios, you can assign students a variety of writing, speaking, or listening tasks to complete, including oral descriptions/answers, listening, reading, and drawing, writing, etc.

Not every student responds to various types of activities in the same way. That's why only you know which assessment methods will work best for your class. 

Article authors & editors
  • Yulia Chorna

    Yulia Chorna


    DELTA Module 1, CELTA certified teacher of General & Business English



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