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Remote assessment guidance

As a result of the campus closing, we are currently unable to run on campus assessments (e.g. traditional desk-based exams, face-to-face presentations and the creation of physical artefacts) therefore we need to develop alternative assessment methods. Before looking at the alternative assessment strategies remember that the remaining assessments should be guided by these principles (as outlined in the all-academic staff email on 31st March 2020): 

  1. Students should be enabled and encouraged to complete their assessments, as planned, wherever possible. 
  2. All students are treated fairly and consistently and that students are not advantaged or disadvantaged as a result of these amendments. 
  3. All assessments are marked with the understanding of the extraordinary and challenging conditions in which our students are preparing for and taking these assessments.
  4. We recognise that not all students may be able to complete their assessments this semester. In these cases, we will ensure that students are supported to enable their progression.

You may find that most assessments fit in to one of these three categories:

  1. No Change needed
    • The assessment can be supported and completed remotely, and the submission is online.
  2. Easy alternatives for remote delivery. This may involve a combination of: 
    • An alternative way to create the assessed work.
    • An alternative way to submit the assessed work.
    • Using an alternative assessment method students are familiar with. 
  3. Difficult to replicate whilst students work remotely and will need significant adjustments or alternatives:
    • Some learning outcomes can be assessed via alternative methods, but some learning outcomes cannot be assessed at all.
    • There is no ideal solution which will replicate any of the important aspects of the assessment. 

Start by thinking about

For categories 2 and 3 you may want to start by thinking about:

  • Are there different ways the module learning outcomes to be assessed can be successfully demonstrated? The assessments in the module specifications will represent choices made at the point of validation but other means may be equally as effective.
  • Are there approaches which students are familiar which can be used as an alternative?
  • What other module assessments are being reconfigured within the programme? Wherever possible, similar approaches to using remote tools and ways of working should be employed across modules. This lessens the new learning required to understand multiple types of new assessments and the students can then focus on applying their learning.

There are many aspects to consider when we are thinking about remote assessment the first and biggest change will be the environment in which the assessment is taking place. For this reason, you need to consider what assessments might still work within a home study environment.

Will students:

Equipment

Have the equipment they need to carry out the assessment?

  • Equipment such as computer, microphone, web camera or smartphone.
  • Reliable internet connection. 
  • Access to the equipment when they need. Some students may share this with others within the household. 
  • Software needed to create the assessment artefact.

Have a quiet space in which to carry out the assessment? 

  • Will they be able to do this at a time which works for them based on other requirements for this space and their availability? 

Have the opportunity to practise this new form of assessment?

  • Formative assessment opportunities can be provided to help students familiarise themselves with the subject area and the technology they will use for the assessment.
  • This is more important for remote assessment, as these would normally have been provided within face-to-face sessions, so we need to ensure we replicate this online. 

Be able to ask questions about the assessment?

  • How will you provide a forum for students to be able to ask questions about the assessment remotely?  
  • Consider providing a recording outlining the requirements of the assessment and helping to explain tricky terms.  
  • Provide a discussion board or online notice board where students can pose questions and opportunities for online tutorials where students can be provided with individual support. 

For this reason, you may need to be more flexible in the approach you take. Consider whether this flexibility can be designed into the assessment, perhaps providing more student choice, or whether some students need to be given alternatives which fit around their circumstances. 

Use the menus below to explore the different types of assessments. Remember to take a look at the Inclusive assessments and student wellbeing section as these points will need to be considered in order to ensure we meet the principles set out of the beginning of this guide.

Inclusive assessments and student wellbeing
Decorative

Many of the inclusive practices you would have used on campus assessment still apply to remote assessment. However, there are some other consideration which must be made about aspects of the online assessment in order to ensure any adaptions provide a fair and equitable assessment for all students and not provide them with undue stress. 

Important considerations include how you will provide:

  • Consider the areas identified above (equipment, environment, formative assessment, question forums) as these also relate to inclusivity and student wellbeing. 
  • Resources for the assessment which are accessible for all students and meet the required accessibility standards. Blackboard Ally and the built-in tools within Microsoft can help with this. 
  • Additional time which may be provided to students with support plans and how this should be calculated. 
  • Enough notice for students who have caring responsibilities to arrange alternative care for those they look after. If this is not possible, then their home environment might not be suitable for this type of assessment. 
  • Some disabled students may need to arrange local additional support or equipment before the assessment takes place. What if this is not possible to arrange? 
  • Students with the information they need to prepare for any assessment changes within a timely way. 
  • Refer students who need assistance for wellbeing issues to the College Student Centre to discuss the support available. 

If the required adaptions are not possible, consider either changing the assessment to one you know all students can complete or provide some students with an alternative assessment. 

It is also important to consider those assessments which are reliant on other people’s contributions as these may be harder to achieve due to the other parties’ availability. Consider how the students could complete the assessment without this contribution. For instance, for a group presentation you should think about how you can assess the group presentation if one of the group members is unable to contribute their part without adding additional work and undue stress to the other students. 

Resources

Coursework

The easiest and simplest alternative to some face-to-face assessments is to look at introducing assessment by coursework. This is something most students will already be familiar with having submitted text-based assessments during their time on campus. When looking at converting your current assessment to course work you need to consider: 

  • What do the learning outcomes require the students to demonstrate? This is always your starting point. But flexibility is also the key here. Do the students have to demonstrate this outcome in a particular way? Sometimes the answer is yes, but often, no.
  • To what extent can this be assessed by a coursework assessment? Coursework can, but does not have to be, a written text; multi-media formats such as images, audio, video, screencasts for presentations, and more, can be submitted instead of live assessments.  
  • Even if it feels unusual and perhaps not what you would wish for your students, can they demonstrate their learning adequately via a coursework assessment that they can submit electronically? We need to be pragmatic and enable assessment to happen as much as possible, but not compromise the learning outcomes. This is a delicate balancing act, we know.  

The best option for students to submit their coursework is through a Turnitin submission point. 

However, you may need to use alternative submission points for non-text-based assessments or those with bigger files. 

For this reason, you might be required to: 

Online alternatives for presentations and vivas

As there are a few different scenarios with presentations these are separated below as the approach might be slightly different. 

Best practice for online delivery 

  • Provide an opportunity for students to remotely practice their presentation using the technology they will use in the assessment.  
  • For groups they will need an online space where they can all meet and collaborate. Students often find their own solutions for this, but it is also good practice to provide a space for this in case they need it. 
  • Will students have the equipment they need to produce an audio recording? If not, are their alternatives you can suggest which still meet the assessment criteria. 

Group presentations 

There are a couple of different ways you can do this online: 

  • By setting up groups in Blackboard each group can be given their own Blackboard Collaborate area. This can be used as a practice area but can also be used for the formal assessment. You can enable the students to record within the session themselves or attend yourself to record and be able to ask the group questions. Links to the recordings can then be shared with others who will need to view it, such as the internal and external examiners.
  • Using Office 365 students can collaborate on a PowerPoint together and individually record the parts of the slides they were due to present. For submission, you will need to create the groups within the groups tool in Blackboard and then create a Blackboard Assignment which you set as a Group Submission. This way the students can then submit their presentation file. 

Individual presentations 

  • Where students need to record an individual assessment presentation, this can be done using Panopto and then uploaded into an assignment folder to submit the work for you to mark. 
  • Creating a video may also be an alternative to this type of presentation. You can find more about this on Setting a media creation assignment page.  
  • Like group presentations collaborate could be used in groups of 1 where each student hasd their own blackboard group, they could log into collaborate and make a recording. Only tutors and themselves would be able to see the recording. This method could also be used for Vivas. This can be more time consuming the larger the group numbers. 
  • Tips: 
    • If students are struggling to use Panopto, they could record their audio on to their PowerPoint slides and then submit this to Turnitin (markers would then need to download the original file to listen to the audio). 

Individual presentation with Q&A 

  • Start by setting a schedule for the students to do their presentations. Create a Blackboard collaborate room where the students can then come in and present. You can also record these sessions and as long as you do not allow downloads of recordings these will remain private to the tutors in the module. Make sure that you are clear about the schedule of presentations so you can rename each recording with a student number in order to identify them for marking. You can also get a link to the recordings which can then be sent on to internal and external examiners as needed. 
  • Tips: 
    • Set up a Blackboard Collaborate room in which they can practice. This helps them to get familiar with the technology as well as practice their presentation rather than panicking because something is not working during the live assessment.  
    • You could set up Groups in Blackboard with a collaborate room per group where the students can help to support each other during the preparation phase. 
    • This option also allows peers to attend presentations and ask questions if this is an important part of the assessment process. 
Remote demonstration of skills

As part of their assessment students may have been required to perform a specific skill/s within an assessed environment. It may still be possible for some students to do this remotely although some aspects of the assessment may be harder to capture. As any skills demonstrated will need to be seen the assessment relies on the student having access to a camera and microphone, if audio is required. This process for this works like a Media Creation Assignment

Tips: 

  • Provide an outline of the video requirements. How long should it be? What does it need to show? Do they need to record sound? What format does it need to be? 
  • Will the student need to edit different parts of the video together? Or create several separate videos for submission? In which case they may need additional software like WeVideo

There are two options for this: 

  • Video recording and submission – This can be created via the student’s mobile device and then uploaded into Panopto. If they have another person to assist them they may be able to move the camera around to provide different angles. If they will need to edit the video together then it might be better to use something like WeVideo
  • Live demonstration – This may be more challenging to achieve but you could look at a couple of technologies to support this. This will require the students to have a web camera or mobile which is connected to the internet from which they can broadcast. If the student has a web camera and they can demonstrate the skill near their computer, then you can set up a Blackboard Collaborate session (these can also be recorded). If they only have a mobile device they can use either the Blackboard App to open a collaborate session or login to collaborate in the browser on your phone. 
Digitising physical artefacts
Digitising

As it will not be possible for you to examine the object in person you will need to ask students to provide you with an alternative view of this through using images and video. The option chosen will depend upon the type of artefact you are reviewing and the aspects of this you need to assess. 

  • Microsoft OneNote Class Notebook can be used to create a portfolio. When you set this up each student has their own notebook which can only be accessed by them and the tutors on the module. Students can post images, links to videos and reflections into the different pages of the notebook for you to view. 
  • Microsoft Lens is an app students can download onto their phone, sign into their OneDrive account on the app and take pictures of physical artefacts, crop and rotate within the app and then download a pdf to upload to their OneDrive account. This .pdf can then up submitted through Turnitin if the submission point as been set up to receive ‘any file’. This video shows students how to use Microsoft lens
  • If they need to show their physical artefacts in a video form, set up an assignment folder in Panopto and then get the students to use the camera on their phone to make a video and voiceover for their assessment artefact. The students can then upload the video to the Panopto app and submit it.  
  • Panopto could also be used to make a presentation style recording, where the students can present their work, findings and other elements for submission. This could include images of the artefact which help to highlight its different components and how this relates to the assessment criteria. 
  • If required, you could follow-up any submission of the artefact with an online Q&A with the student to help discuss those aspects which you need to explore further. For this you could use:  
    • Blackboard Collaborate (where you can record this conversation)
    • Microsoft Teams meeting via Outlook (where you can also record this conversation – this will be saved in Stream) 
    • Microsoft Teams chat 
    • Or via a method which allows greater time flexibility such as email, group discussions (with each student having their own group) or Microsoft Teams with a channel for each student. 
Timed assessments for knowledge application

Important: Within the current remote working situation, it will not be possible to guarantee an equitable assessment experience for this type of assessment, as there are multiple factors which can provide students with advantages and disadvantages over others. This is compounded by the restriction on time for completion and availability of resources which may make the situation more stressful than a traditional on campus exam. Online timed assessments should only be used at an awarding level where another assessment method as indicated above cannot be used, for example where a PSRB continues to require an examination, or the learning outcomes cannot be assessed any other way.  

Knowledge recall assessments are very difficult to deliver remotely. It is not possible to control the student’s access to resources and other people which could allow them to find out the answer. For this reason, the focus of timed remote assessment requires students to apply knowledge to a question or problem posed within the timed assessment. This is often referred to as an ‘open book’ assessment.  

The students would be required to create something, typically an essay, report or poster within a set time limit. You could still think about whether they could create other items like websites, videos or infographics it will just need to be something achievable within the limits you set for the timed assessment and the equipment students have access to remotely. 

Tips 

  • To aid student preparation for the examination and reduce stress during the timed assessment, you could consider a ‘seen’ assessment where the questions or subject area are provided to the students ahead of the timed assessment. This helps students to not try and cram during the timed period of the exam as well as try and answer the assessment. 
  • Timings for this type of assessment vary with some being set for at least 24 hours and others over several days. Timings for the assessments should include time for comfort breaks and screen breaks as well as managing other commitments (e.g. work, family, caring). 
  • With this type of assessment, it is important to provide students with a set of guidelines. They will need to know things like: 
    • What sources of information can/should I use? How many can I use? How many is recommended? 
    • What time will I be given to prepare my sources?  
    • Should I include references in the text? Should I include them at the end? (typical exams would not expect a full reference section) 
    • How long should my answers be? Is there a word count limit? Is there a minimum? 
    • What is the ideal space in my home to sit the assessment?  
    • What equipment will I need? What if I don’t have access to this equipment? 
    • How will this be marked? How will I receive my feedback? 
    • I have a support plan; will I get extra time? 
  • Provide students with a forum to ask questions and raise any concerns before the assessment takes place. This will help you to clarify instructions and ease any anxiety related to a potentially unfamiliar assessment format. They may raise issues you have not considered which will give you a chance to respond to this before the assessment takes place. 

There are two main ways to deliver this type of assessment. 

Folders and submission points (e.g. Turnitin or Blackboard Assignments): 

  1. First you would be required to set up a folder within Course Resources which has restrictions set on it to limit when students can access this. This should coincide with the timings for the assessment. 
  2. Then you will need to set up the question or problem for the timed assessment in this area. 
  3. Set up a submission point for the work the students create for the assessment. This would typically be within Turnitin but could be submitted differently depending on what the students are required to create. 
  4. Create support resources for students to sit this type of assessment. It is important they have somewhere they will not be disturbed and may need notice to ensure this environment can be create from where they are studying. 

An advantage of this approach is that you can use the tools within Turnitin to check text matching within responses and identify potential plagiarism. 

Blackboard Tests

  1. Set a series of free text response questions 
  2. This can also be set to be released during a specific period of time and a time set on how long the students have to complete it once they have started. 
  3. The test can then be marked within the test tool and grades released. 
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