Faculty members' decisions about online assessment strategies
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In recent years, more and more online institutions have emerged in response to market demand. In addition, traditional institutions began expanding their online educational programs to attract more students. However, the lack of understanding about how faculty members make decisions about online assessment has impeded the improvement of online learning. This knowledge gap has also reduced opportunities for maximizing the benefits of new technologies while assessing students online. This mixed-method study has endeavored to fill this knowledge gap by surveying and interviewing faculty members who have taught online courses about their decisions regarding online assessment. This study was also an exploratory effort to reveal differences between the implementation of online assessment by faculty members from traditional universities and faculty members from online commercial institutions. Phase I of the study involved collecting data via an online survey from faculty members who taught online courses at either traditional research high universities or online commercial institutions. Statistically significant relationships were discovered among factors such as the nature of the discipline, type of institution, epistemological worldviews, variety of online assessment strategies, and the purpose of using a specific online assessment strategy. Phase II of this study involved interviews with 13 faculty members recruited at the end of phase I. This phase addressed questions about how faculty members chose their online assessment strategies, their beliefs toward teaching, learning and assessment, their specific understanding about issues such as test dishonesty in online learning, and their recommendations for improvement of online assessment tools within current Course Management Systems. The results of this study provide insights into how faculty members make decisions about online assessment. The differences between the implementation of online assessment in the two different types of institutions indicate the need for changing the current faculty reward system in higher education. The results of this study have the potential to be a theoretical foundation for a faculty training model for the design and implementation of effective online assessment. Lessons drawn from this study may also help guide the design of future studies related to how student learning is assessed in online courses.