Vol. 33 No. 1 (2018)
Research Articles

Flexible weighting in online distance education courses

Bettina Brockerhoff-Macdonald
Laurentian University
Moira Morrison
Laurentian University
Susan Manitowabi
Laurentian University

Published 2018-05-20


  • Flexible weighting options,
  • on-line and distance learning

How to Cite

Brockerhoff-Macdonald, B., Morrison, M., & Manitowabi, S. (2018). Flexible weighting in online distance education courses. International Journal of E-Learning & Distance Education Revue Internationale Du E-Learning Et La Formation à Distance, 33(1). Retrieved from https://www.ijede.ca/index.php/jde/article/view/1035


Are current evaluation scheme practices really inclusive of differing teaching and learning preferences and cultural sensitivities? Are students and faculty satisfied with the assignments they have now? Do assignments accurately reflect a student’s learning and skill acquisition? How can students be given assignment options to engage them more fully without increasing workload for faculty? This paper will examine how the flexible weighting option responds to the learning needs of students by promoting their success, building on their strengths, and giving them a sense of ownership and choice. Results of this pilot project have shown that flexible weighting can encourage student engagement and reduce their stress. What does this mean for faculty? Any course with a variety of assignments can implement flexible weighting. Flexible weighting can be successfully applied in courses regardless of the method of delivery and can be adapted for courses in a variety of disciplines. 


Les pratiques actuelles des schémas d'évaluation tiennent-elles vraiment compte des différences d'enseignement, des préférences d'apprentissage et des sensibilités culturelles? Les étudiants et les professeurs sont-ils satisfaits des épreuves qu'ils ont maintenant? Les travaux ou examens reflètent-ils fidèlement l'apprentissage et l'acquisition de compétences d'un élève? Comment les étudiants peuvent-ils se voir proposer certains choix permettant de les engager davantage sans augmenter la charge de travail pour les professeurs? Cet article examinera comment l'option de pondération flexible répond aux besoins d'apprentissage des étudiants en favorisant leur réussite, en s'appuyant sur leurs points forts et en leur donnant un sentiment d'appartenance et de choix. Les résultats de ce projet pilote ont montré qu'une pondération flexible peut encourager l'engagement des élèves et réduire leur stress. Qu'est-ce que cela signifie pour le corps enseignant ? Tout cours avec une variété de travaux ou d'examens peut implémenter une pondération flexible. La pondération flexible peut être appliquée avec succès dans les cours, quelle que soit son mode d'administration, et peut être adaptée pour des cours de diverses disciplines.


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  13. Authors
  14. Bettina Brockerhoff-Macdonald is the current Director of the Centre for Academic Excellence at Laurentian University and oversees both the development and delivery of online programs and courses, as well as supporting faculty with teaching with technology both in the classroom and online. She has taught as a sessional instructor in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures and holds an Honours B.A. and M.A. from McMaster University and a PhD in Human Studies from Laurentian University. E-mail: bbrockerhoff@laurentian.ca
  15. Moira Morrison trained as a teacher in the UK. She moved into the field of Distance Education when she joined the Centre for the Continuing Education (now amalgamated with the Centre for Academic Excellence) at Laurentian University in 1994. In 2010, Moira completed a Masters in Online and Distance Education through the Open University in the UK consolidating her knowledge in the field and providing the invaluable opportunity of being an online student herself. E-mail: mmorrison@laurentian.ca
  16. Susan Manitowabi is the Director of the School of Indigenous Relations at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario. Her doctoral work focuses on the engagement of the “Raising the Spirit” Mental Wellness Team First Nations with First Nations mental health programs. Her research interests include: Aboriginal mental health; traditional Aboriginal healing practices; Aboriginal child welfare; Indigenous research; and Aboriginal mental health policy development and community development. E-mail: smanitowabi@laurentian.ca