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Resources for Assessment, Teaching, and Learning During the Pandemic

The National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA) has made available a publication entitled Assessment During a Crisis: Responding to the Global Pandemic. The report provides an overview of findings from NILOA's national survey of assessment-related changes made in Spring 2020 in response to COVID-19 and provides guidance in the form of "do's" and "do not's" for assessment practice. Nearly all of the respondents said their institutions had made changes of some kind in response to COVID-19. Changes included the following:

  • modifying assignments and assessments
  • flexibility in assignment deadlines
  • shifting to pass/fail course grades
  • modifying assessment reporting deadlines
  • acceptance of alternative assignments
  • modifying the assessment reporting process
  • modifying course evaluations
  • changes to assessment roles and responsibilities

Seventy-five percent of responding institutions indicated the changes would not negatively impact the assessment culture of their institution; however, concerns expressed included increased work demands, assessment being shifted further away from teaching and learning, and accuracy of measures of learning.

Based on the survey results and the scholarship of assessment, teaching, and learning, the report provides the following list of suggestions:


  • Do use learning outcomes as a guide and means to design and focus educational offerings.
  • Do listen to student voices AND respond accordingly.
  • Do modify assignments and assessments in ways that are flexible, use low-bandwidth, and are based in the principles of equitable assessment. 
  • Do be aware of and address systemic inequities.
  • Do engage in trauma-informed and healing-centered pedagogy and assessment.
Do Not's
  • Do not forget that we are in a pandemic. But remember that it is also an inequitable pandemic.
  • Do not cause further harm. Do not support, enable, or endorse policies that perpetuate further inequities or fuel negative perceptions of students. 
  • Do not ask students for their approval of a decision that has already been made. Instead, engage with them in advance to help determine a solution. 
  • Do not require a higher level of proof of learning in an online class than you would normally require in a face-to-face setting.
  • Do not forget that this is not the educational experience students wanted or expected. Nor is this a test of online education. And in case you were wondering, it still will not be "online education" in the Fall. It will continue to be a derivative of emergency remote teaching and learning.

The NILOA report disaggregates the results by type of respondent and institutional sector and offers examples of narrative responses to open-ended questions.

Relatedly, NILOA has produced a Google document entitled Making the Move to Online Courses: Resources to Inform Teaching and Learning, which permits and encourages additions and revisions. The document provides numerous links to various resources in the following categories:

  • Making the Move to Online Courses (overview with links)
  • Equity and Inclusivity
  • Assessment Resources
  • Accreditation Guidance
  • Resources for Students
    • Surviving COVID-19: A #RealCollege Guide for Students
    • Online Discussion Tips for Students
  • Online Convenings
  • General Resources
  • Institutional Resources and Examples
  • Pedagogy and Course Design Online
  • Technology Considerations and Internet Access
  • International Resources

Visitors to the NILOA website might also find other resources available there to be useful, including the assignment library, reports, occasional papers, the Assessment in Practice series, viewpoints, case studies, and books.

November 2020