Early low-stakes assessment can also help engage students with the subject in the first three weeks of the teaching session when they provide an opportunity for students to complete tasks that help them transition from previous educational experiences into university study (Kift, 2009). They can help identify students who are not engaged in the subject and are thus at risk of failure or withdrawal. Early assessment can assist students to self-assess their entry knowledge, skills and attitudes against discipline expectations.
Tasks may be assessment or non-assessment based and can differ between internal and distance cohorts as not all tasks are universally applicable. Evidence collected by CSU STAR teams indicates that the single most important determinant of success for internal students is class attendance. Don't hesitate to use different identifiers for on-campus and online students.
Communicating the importance of your early low stakes tasks
Student feedback indicates that an early task with low value is often not considered worth doing so communicate the importance of the task whether it is assessment based or not in the 'Learning, teaching and support strategies' section of is important. If the task is assessment based, outline how the task fits into later tasks and its importance in developing basic skills and knowledge that better prepare students for those later tasks.
Multiple methods of identifying unengaged students increase the chances of identifying students at risk.
Example of multiple identifiers
Tasks or activities
Assessment related identifiers
Behaviour based identifier
Kift, S., (2009), First year curriculum principles: Program coordinator checklist, Articulating a transition pedagogy. http://www.csu.edu.au/student/transition/deliverables/5.htm