Activities & Assessments

Just like in face-to-face settings there are a number of ways to engage students in discussions around the content and assess their mastery of the course material.  A good assessment plan will help you align your course objectives with your course assessments.


In response to the Coronavirus, Rutgers University has provided the following grade options for the Spring 2020 and Summer 2020 terms:

Students can choose a Pass/No-credit grading option for individual courses. Pass/No-credit grades are not factored into GPAs.

If students choose a Pass/No-credit option, a note will appear on transcripts to indicate the circumstances of the COVID-19 outbreak. While a Pass/No-Credit grade may impact how transcripts are viewed by employers and other universities, the impact is likely to be minimized by the fact that several universities are currently allowing this conversion.

Grading and withdrawal policies vary by campus and, sometimes, by school. Students should connect with academic advisers before deciding on grading or withdrawal options.


  • What is your course grading scheme (i.e. “grading scale”)?
  • What are the types/categories of assessments you plan to use in your course (e.g. journals, research paper, etc.)?
  • If you plan to weight the grades in your course, how should each assignment type/category be weighted?
  • What is the total point value of your course, and how many points should each graded activity be worth?
  • What tools will you be using?  Most assignments can be done using the tools available through the Canvas LMS, while there are some assignment types that would benefit from using a tool outside of Canvas. 

Best Practices

  • Build community!  The first assignment in an online course should be about getting to know the students in the course. But don’t stop there!  Throughout the semester questionnaires and surveys can be a great way to continue to get to know your students and build community.
  • Provide clear criteria for how assignments will be evaluated and graded.  This can be done with rubrics or a simple assignment criteria checklist. 
  • The devil is in the details!  Any assignment or activity should have detailed instructions and prompts so students understand what needs to be done.
  • Offer choice and flexibility.  Allow students to take ownership of their learning by providing multiple options for completing assignments.  For example, give multiple prompts for a written assignment and let students choose which one they want to respond to.
  • Provide good and bad examples of the types of work submissions you expect.  Examples create a more inclusive community as it helps students who may not be familiar with certain types of assignments.  Examples are models that can help students develop their thinking or serve as a starting point for a more creative ideas.

Assignment Types

Common assessment types for online courses.

Group Work

Set up group projects and assignments with confidence.


Logically align point values for assignments with your overall grading scheme.