THE-ICE members discuss alternative assessment & exams under COVID-19

THE-ICE members discuss alternative assessment & exams under COVID-19

Assessment and examination have been heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the move to online-only learning. More than 80 experts, representing 24 leading TH&E institutions from THE-ICE member network across 14 countries, came together to share their expertise, experience, and solutions to designing and conducting assessment and examinations under COVID-19.

On Thursday, 16th April 2020 THE-ICE hosted their third COVID-19 webinar, with attendees hearing from panellists Professor Jonathan Powles (University of New England), Dr Mieke Witsel (Southern Cross University), Mr David Hayes (Modernista), and Ms Julia Caldicott (Southern Cross University). From the panellist perspectives and open discussion, five areas of focus emerged:

  • Conducting and proctoring online examinations
  • Assuring academic integrity in online assessment
  • Use of personal devices to conduct practical assessment
  • Constructive alignment and course design
  • Alternatives to student placements and internships

Within these areas, the following key takeaways were highlighted:

Conducting and proctoring online examinations

  • Online examinations deconstruct and challenge thinking about assessment, creating a cultural impact by moving away from the traditional summative approach to assessment.
  • Online examinations can be made available for a longer period of time (e.g. 24 hours), which is better suited to institutions operating across multiple time zones.
  • Through third-party proctoring services (e.g. ProctorU), students are invigilated via webcam or an AI system throughout the entire examination and must also follow protocols (e.g. no screen capture, no use of search engines, no downloading of assessment material) during the examination.
  • Marking of online examinations can be conducted in the same way as paper-based examinations, with feedback available to students who request it.
  • 93% of webinar attendees polled said they/their institution would contemplate online exams.

Assuring academic integrity in online assessment

  • Any assessment contains a level of risk and institutions cannot eradicate cheating, only allow for the risk factors. In some ways, due to digital monitoring protocols, it is harder to cheat during an online assessment.
  • Cheating can be reduced through the building of better, more supportive relationships with students, as the risk of cheating increases when students feel overwhelmed and/or do not see the value or meaning of the assessment task.
  • Question banks (e.g. students must answer 15 out of 100 questions) can help reduce the risk of cheating through information or question sharing.

Use of personal devices to conduct practical assessment

  • This method of assessment reinforces students’ learning, as they are likely to review and re-take video demonstrations in order to submit their best work.
  • Video evidence can make a significant difference in review and moderation of practical assessments, allowing for competencies to be evaluated more closely than in a practical class setting.
  • If students are expected to use their personal devices to complete assessment tasks, institutions should seek to equip them with the necessary skills e.g. video editing, and minimise the complexity of assessment tasks to avoid confusion and/or overwhelm.
  • Mr David Hayes demonstrated use of the programme Jungle Cat, which allows students to use their personal devices to upload assessment pieces via video for marking, and also allows assessors to provide assessment information and interaction via the app.
  • 88% of webinar attendees polled responded that they/their institutions would consider using personal devices for practical assessment.

Constructive alignment and course design

  • Constructive alignment was defined as the framework of a course being built in such a way that it is oriented towards the successful outcomes of students, including assessment designed to demonstrate specific learning outcomes.
  • Alternative assessments must be meaningful for students and constructively aligned with the outcomes of the course and the degree. The following should be considered when designing alternative assessments:
    • Is formative or summative assessment in the students’ best interests?
    • Is acquisition or application (or both) of knowledge being assessed?
    • Is the product or the process (or both) being assessed?
    • Is it important for the assessment to be time-constrained?
    • What questions should students be able to answer, and what skills should they be able to display, following completion of this course?
    • How can the student truly demonstrate mastery of the learning outcome?
  • Rubistar was suggested as a resource, to compare and contrast rubrics that other educators have created when designing revised rubrics.

Alternatives to student placements and internships

  • Although some students have been able to remain in their current placements by undertaking alternative duties, many have been cancelled due to the COVID-19 regulations and alternatives must be arranged.
  • Ms Julia Caldicott shared that students at her institution will have the opportunity to undertake a pre-existing project-based community engagement unit in the next study period, which meets the same requirements as the cancelled Work Integrated Learning / internship unit, or the option to defer their placement until next semester.

The recording of the webinar can be accessed here.

For information about upcoming webinars in THE-ICE COVID-19 webinar series, click here.