Topic 6:Developing the Assignments
Instructor’s Notes


Teachers open the door. You enter by yourself.
Chinese Proverb

One of the most challenging jobs as a course developer is developing engaging assignments.

Use the goals and objectives to define and develop the activities. The assignment for a module should be directly related to the module goals and objectives. For example, if you compare the objectives of this module with the assignment you see they are very closely related.



Develop an assignment and articulate the type of feedback the students will receive for one module.


Develop an assignment and articulate the type of feedback the student will receive for one module.

Students will:





The assignments you'll be completing are:

develop an assignment for a module develop an assignment for your module
articulate the type of feedback the student will receive articulate the feedback the student will receive
categorize the assignment according to Bloom’s Taxonomy identify the level of cognition this activity requires according to Bloom’s Taxonomy
describe how your assignment leverages the Internet describe how your assignment leverages the Internet

Feedback and Assessment

Feedback is key to learning. All assignments should include feedback. The feedback should be designed to help the student accomplish the module objectives and to deepen the learning.

When designing an activity or assignment it is important to define the quantity, quality, and immediacy of feedback students will receive. What type of feedback will be the most constructive in taking them beyond what they already know? Think realistically about what type of feedback could be most helpful for students and what that would require on the part of the instructor. Course developers need to examine how much feedback students will receive, how soon will they receive it, and how that feedback will be incorporated into furthering the students understanding. It is of very little use for a student to receive punitive feedback: "You got two questions wrong. You should have studied." Feedback that helps the students may be, "You got two questions wrong, now go and study those two points further. Here are some links or examples that might be helpful"

Some feedback can be automated by online quizzes that serve as study guides. When students get incorrect answers they can be provided with links about where to go to get the correct answer. Some assignments can require peer feedback. However, many online teachers have found that it is helpful for the teacher to maintain some participation in facilitating the peer feedback.

In the traditional classroom teachers set policies about asking questions, seeking help, and when assignments will be returned to students. In the online world, this type of communication is crucial..

How to Structure Assignments

Start with ideas and activities that answers the student's question, "Whatís in it for me?"

Robert Mager states in "Making Instruction Work":

"Move from the big picture into the details. Since you know the subject, you can think comfortably about any piece of it and understand where it fits into the whole territory: they need a map. Thatís what youíre there for. So start with the biggest picture and then work towards the details

Ö Donít expect students to think about the abstract until they have something concrete to think abstractly about."

Types of Assignments

Assignments fall into two classes: objective or inquisitive.

Objective Assignments

Objective assignments are used to assess, review, and apply factual information.

A learner can select from multiple choice answers and receive feedback. If the instructor uses a course management software package, such as Blackboard or WebCT, the grades can be automatically posted in the gradebook.

Use Objective Assignments to:

  • automate grading
  • reinforce mastery of factual information
  • provide learners with instant feedback

Most objective assignments ask learners to interact only with the content – not with each other or the instructor. Objective assignment are ideal for the multiple-choice format.

There are three basic functions of objective quizzes and tests:

  • the gate—the student must master this content before advancing
  • the onramp—the quiz can be used as a study guide where computer gives constructive feedback until the student gets it right
    Example: Goal or Objective Quiz
  • assessment—to assess how well the student mastered the information. The grade they recede goes right into the gradebook.

Creative example of Objective Assignments

The students circle or check the most appropriate ratings for themselves, and then fix the errors.
Writing Behavioral Objectivves Rubric

Study Guide Quiz for Diane Wang's HTML course

K Gibson's Standard Template Library (STL) for C++ Tutorial

Examples of Rubrics

Blue Web'n Site Evaluation Rubric

multimedia presentation checklist

There are two rubrics in this course

Rubric: Behavioral Objectives

Web Design and Accessability Rubric

Inquisitive Assignments

Inquisitive assignments help people reflect, analyze, and extend the learning. Some teachers teachers with large numbers of students use combinations of collaborative inquisitive assignments and objectives assignment. They often offer the collaborative inquisitive assignments as extra credit or in leau of a quiz or test. That way, the students who show initiative take advantage of the collaborative project but, the instructor doesn't have to spend an inordinate amount of time prodding and helping with group projects.

Use Inquisitive Assignments to:

  • apply complex ideas or procedures
  • demonstrate comprehension of complex ideas
  • develop a project plan (budget, management plan, or publicity campaign)
  • encourage creative thinking
  • encourage questioning of abstract ideas
  • spark the growth of unique view points and perspectives

Examples of Inquisitive Assignments are:

  • write (article, review, essay, report, etc.)
  • create a Web site
  • create artwork (icons, illustrations, photographs)
  • exercise critical thinking skills
  • experiment
  • explore with interactive simulations
  • foster group discussion
  • participate in a critique lab (students post their work and other students critique their work)
  • research
  • summarize

    Examples of interactive simulations:
    (You will need the Flash or Shockwave plug-in installed to view these interactive multimedia projects.)

  • Nutrition instructor Betty Clamp designed a series of interactive lessons. Students read text, view videos and animations, and then perform diet analysis by experimenting with an interactive online calorie and body mass calculator.
  • "Explore Science" features highly interactive science activities for students and educators allowing users to change variables and see how that effects the outcome. For instance, students can learn about additive and subtractive color by changing the values and seeing the results.
  • Round World Media developed several interactive lessons including an interactive linear regression calculator that allows users to enter in the x, y coordinates of points to plot a line of best fit and identify outliers and an interactive lesson on probability.

Create an online community in your class

There are basically three types of collaboration in online learning:

  • group project in which the participants produce something
  • group discussions in which the participants discuss topics
  • peer critiques in which people in groups provide constructive criticism to each others work.

Read the following articles:

"Online Activities at Your (Electronic) Fingertips... A How-To Guide for creating the best online activities that really work!" by Scott Hildreth, Nancy Masterson, Ginny Wallace March 2000

"Collaborative Learning Using Online Tools" produced by @One


"Teaching/Learning Activities" by the UMUC-Bell Atlantic Virtual Resource Site for Teaching with Technology. shows samples of online assignments.

"A Brief Summary of the Best Practices in College Teaching
Intended to Challenge the Professional Development of All Teachers" compiled by Tom Drummond North Seattle Community College

"A Framework for Designing Questions for Online Learning"
Lin Muilenburg, MA University of South Alabama 2109 Woodford Court Mobile, AL 36695 Zane L. Berge, Ph.D.
This article describes a theoretical framework for designing questions for starting online discussion and follow-up questions to maintain the discussion. This framework is placed within a broader context of discussion within a constructivist, online environment. Numerous examples of discussion questions which were gathered from experienced online instructors are presented with the goal of preparing students and teachers to participate effectively in online discussions.

"Moderating Educational Computer Conferencing" by
Robin Mason Institute of Educational Technology The Open University

Developing an Effective Online Class
© Valerie Landau, 2001. All Rights Reserved.