Date of Conferral

1-1-2011

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Psychology

Advisor

Robin Friedman

Abstract

Online learning has revolutionized higher education in the United States. In 2007, there were 3.9 million students taking at least 1 online course. Assessment in online instruction is a new experience for teachers because of the recent advent of online course delivery. Current research on online learning does not address instructor experiences with learning assessments. This gap may contribute to online instructors being inadequately prepared to teach online. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore online instructors' experiences with assessments in their undergraduate social science courses. The study was guided by constructivism as well as theories associated with assessment for the college classroom. The main and secondary research questions focused on the participants' experiences with assessment in the online learning environment and the challenges and benefits of assessment in that learning environment. Data were collected with in-depth, semistructured interviews and analyzed via Moustakas's modification of van Kaam's method. The main themes are: (a) instructors use a combination of assessment practices, (b) changes to assessments are based on student feedback, and (c) academic honesty. The present study promotes positive social change by providing members of the online learning community with a better understanding of instructors' assessment processes, as well as the challenges and benefits those instructors face in assessing learning in online classes, all of which may contribute to improved instruction for online students.