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Sakai Assessments Overview

Posted at 8:50 a.m. Aug. 15, 2014, by in Assessments

Sakai Assessments Overview

Over time, Sakai’s assessment tools have become more useful and flexible. Here is an overview of some of the tools most frequently used in student assessment. For more detailed instructions on using these tools, check the Support page or Sakai Help.

As always, please contact us if you have any questions. Remember that most faculty have some unique requirements for teaching their subjects to their students. Often, we need to find a creative use of the standard Sakai tools to meet your instructional needs.


The Assignments tool allows you to post class assignments with instructions to students and due dates. Student can submit their completed assignments either “inline” (for short written answers) or as an attachment (such as a Word or Excel document). After students submit their work, you can view theirs submissions and provide feedback and/or grading.

Grading digital assignments

For some assignments, you may review a student submission, then simply enter your comments and the grade in the boxes provided in the Assignment tool.

But what if you want to make detailed comments and marks within the body of the student’s submitted paper? Some instructors feel comfortable marking up papers electronically, using Word’s “Track Changes” features.

On the other hand, many others (myself included) find marking papers electronically rather cumbersome. In this case, your best bet may be to have the students submit their assignments both electronically through Sakai and also on paper in class. Then, mark up the hard-copy to return to the student, but record the grade in the Sakai Assignments tool as well.


If you like, you can request that Sakai send the student’s submission through the Turnitin “plagiarism detector” service. This will return a report with Turnitin’s judgement of possible plagiarized sections. Note that Turnitin will only work with student submissions in the form of attached documents (generally Microsoft Word, text, or RTF).

Trouble-shooting Turnitin

If a student submission does not receive a Turnitin report, check these guidelines:

  • Note that only attachments are submitted, not text that the student
    types into the Sakai editor.
  • Turnitin understands plain text, HTML, Microsoft Word, Postscript,
    PDF, and RTF.
  • It will not review attachments larger than 10.48576 MB
  • The user must have a first name, last name, and email address in
    Sakai. The email address is used as the Turnitin user name.
  • Only one attachment will be sent. This is a limitation of Turnitin,
    not Sakai. The interface creates a Turnitin assignment for each Sakai
    assignment. Turnitin assignments can only have one file.
More info

Learn more about the Assignments tool from Sakai Help.

Tests & quizzes

The Tests & Quizzes tool in Sakai will allow you to create various types of questions for your students to answer online, including true/false, multiple choice, short answer, matching, essay, and more. A large variety of settings allow you to customize your assessments. Some options include:

  • add a time limit;
  • randomly select questions from a pool so each student gets a slightly different set;
  • allow multiple submissions;
  • provide feedback on individual questions;
  • enforce anonymity for graders; and more.

Questions can be created manually or imported from most types of question databanks.


Nothing in Sakai prevents a student from cheating on an online test, so you must consider whether this is an issue for your course. An online test taken in an un-proctored environment is not much different from any other take-home assignment.

Some faculty use online quizzes only for less-significant assessments, such as a reading check. Other instructors depend on tight time limits and randomized questions to decrease risks of student misbehavior.


Sakai will automatically grade any questions where you have provided the correct answers. Obviously, essay questions must be graded manually. If you choose, Sakai will automatically transfer test & quiz results to the Gradebook.

More info

Learn more about the Tests & Quizzes tool from Sakai Help.


If you give tests and quizzes with Scantron grading sheets, you can import those results directly into Sakai. You’ll need to save the Scantron results as a “CSV” spreadsheet and import it into the Sakai Gradebook tool as a new Gradebook item.

More info

Learn more about Gradebook with Scantron.

Discussions (Forums)

Sakai uses a tool called Forums to create a place for online threaded discussions. Online discussions are an opportunity for students to participate in class in a non-threatening environment, where they can consider and revise their responses before posting. They allow all students to participate, instead of only a consistent handful of students who are willing to raise their hands in class. Sakai allows you to set a window of dates/times during which the students will be able to participate in the discussion. You can also grade the discussion within Sakai; the discussion grades are connected to Sakai’s Gradebook. Learn more about the Forums tool from Sakai Help.


The Gradebook tool imports grades in from the Assignments, Tests & Quizzes, and Forums tools in Sakai. However, you’re not required to use any of these tools to make use of the Gradebook. Sakai’s Gradebook allows instructors to input grades. It will calculate course grades and make grades viewable to students. With its most recent updates, Sakai’s Gradebook will allow you to drop the lowest grade(s) in a specific category and add extra credit assignments. At the conclusion of the semester, you can even use Sakai’s Gradebook to submit your grades to REGIS.

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