Flexibility in assessment can further motivate students and engage them in the learning process by giving them some control over their learning.

There are multiple ways to be flexible with assessments while challenging students, maintaining rigour, and continuing to provide needed structure.

Some examples described below include flexibility around assessment timelines, weighting, and formats.

Timelines Instructors have incorporated flexible deadlines and timelines in several ways, such as:


  • Allowing students to choose their own deadlines from a set of options or within a set of criteria;
  • For an assignment tied to weekly course content, having students choose which week’s content they would like to focus on; and/or
  • Creating an online test that can be written over a window of time, offering multiple times to write a test, and/or budgeting significantly more time to write a test than what is generally needed, and giving this extra time to all students.
Weighting Another avenue for flexibility is in the weighting of assessments, which can often be programmed into an online learning management system.


While the rearrangement of weighting can take some planning and preparation at the outset and while a system is being introduced, it can then become part of a routine and efficient way of steering a course.

Flexibility in weighting might look like:

  • Offering several quizzes/tests and dropping the lowest mark from the final grade, providing optional quizzes for students who would like to reduce the weighting of a final exam, or adding the weight from a missed or poorly completed test to the final exam; and/or
  • Allowing students the option of completing 2 smaller assignments or 1 larger assignment.
Format Many format variations can be offered to encourage and support students’ individual passions and strengths.


For example:

  • Permitting an assignment to be submitted as a written text, podcast, video, or oral conversation (Fuller, Healey, Bradley & Hall, 2004);
  • Offering short answer questions as an alternative to multiple choice questions; or



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