Here, faculty will find information on the UHD Online Learning Student Readiness Self-Assessment, a 22-question survey delivered via Qualtrics, that aims to help students be better prepared for learning in online courses.
Download an image file of the self-assessment postcard for use in your communication with students here.
Ideas for Incorporating the Self-Assessment into Your Courses
Before Semester Start
Prior to the beginning of the semester, reach out to your students via email to welcome them to the course and let them know what they can do now to get ready for the beginning of the course. Include the self-assessment as a task they can carry out now, and ask them to save their results as a PDF. Encourage them to visit the links in their feedback results to learn more about how to succeed in online courses at UHD.
First Week of Classes
Create an assignment in your “welcome / start here” section of your course where students can submit their PDF results. This can be a no-stakes or low-stakes assignment, or, if you choose, it can be for extra credit. Be sure to provide the link to the self-assessment in your assignment. You may also want to insert the postcard image in the description field of the assignment. Be sure to provide alt text for accessibility’s sake. If this is your students’ first assignment, you may also want to include instructions on how to turn in an assignment in Blackboard. Once they are submitted, look at them all. Are there any commonalities? Is there anything you can do in a feedback video or a course announcement to help your students be better prepared? Are there any assignments in your course that will need to be modified in light of their results?
Think About Taking the Results to the Next Level
While having your students’ results might be useful and can inform your course design moving forward so that you can better prepare your students to succeed, you may also want to have them be a bit more proactive in taking ownership of addressing whatever needs are revealed in their results. You can do this be creating a journal assignment (or something similar) where they reflect on their results in written form. Choose a prompt that will have your students not only summarize their results, but also articulate an action plan for moving forward with them. Some sample question you might pose include: What were the top 5 areas in your survey results that you feel need the most attention, and how will you address those? Which areas of the survey results do you feel most comfortable with and why? If you have taken other online courses prior to this one, which of the skills that came up in the survey proved to be the most important for succeeding in online classes? Write a letter to “past you” so that the person you were a semester ago can address specific needs as revealed in the self-assessment you just took. Such prompts promote metacognition, and thinking (and talking) about the way we learn is a key strategy when it comes to retaining information and succeeding in our studies in general.
Make It Real
Many of the topics and links shared in the survey results are features of lots of courses at UHD. For example, time management, note-taking, and study skills are topics that are covered in freshman seminar courses. As faculty at UHD, we are all charged with finding ways to recycle those skills in the subsequent courses those students take. Without your help, those skills lose their meaning. How do you engage your students to practice good time management when balancing their course workload with the rest of their lives? Do you take time to talk with your students about how they study? Do you ask them if they way they studied helped them to do well on an exam? If it didn’t prepare them, do you ask them what they will do differently next time? Do you give them note-taking templates they can use when watching your lecture videos? Do you create opportunities for your students to show you their notes or create them with classmates or group members for sharing with the rest of the class? These all make for great reflection prompts you can add as additional assignments (journals?) in your course. They can be regular features of your course (every other week? every three weeks?). Read their submissions, grade them for completion or participation, and provide some quick global feedback to your students via video or using the announcements tool. Research shows that instructors who get their students to talk about their learning produce students with higher retention and success rates. In online courses, this can also help make up for the distance between you and your learners by creating a more interpersonal aspect to the course.