Assessment supporting information

The focus on these pages is summative assessment (i.e. assessment that contributes to the module mark) as this will be the key priority in the current situation.    

This section for staff involved in education at the University should be read alongside the key information about University policies and procedures.  See the side menu for resources associated with this section.

Key points to consider:  

The following needs to be read in the context that all assessments that are running in the Term 3 Assessment Period will need to follow the approved approach outlined in the Assessment Policies page. 

Firstly, consider how much assessment is still outstanding in your moduleAny upcoming assessments should be proportionate, particularly in the circumstances, for both you and your students.   

It may be possible, and appropriate, to reduce the number of remaining assessments, whilst still meeting the learning outcomes for the module. Some professionally recognised courses may not have this flexibility to change assessments, others offer flexibility regarding the evidencing of standards through assessment. Ensure you check any up to date guidance from the relevant Professional Statutory and Regulatory Body (PSRB).  

Many coursework assessments may be able to run as planned, possibly with a small adjustment to processes. For example coursework that is already due to be submitted online can continue, though colleagues will need to move to online marking. Guidance on online submission and marking is provided below.  

Other forms of assessment will be affected. For example no face-to-face invigilated exams will take place, and it is not possible to move these exams onlineAs detailed in the Assessment policies section, there are alternative forms and formats of assessment you can choose from as module leaders.  There may also be types of coursework (for example those involving groupwork) that may need to be amended given the emergency situation.  

The guidance below is designed to support you to consider the key factors around assessment in line with the assessment policies which are in place for the remainder of the 2019-20 academic year.  

Assessment content:   

Assessment content may need to change in light of disruption to teaching. You may need to assess only what has been taught before the time of the campus-based restrictions if it has not been possible to cover the remaining material that was due to be delivered in the module.  For example, questions may need to be changed or added to, or assessments refocussed.  

Mode of submission and marking  

It will not be possible to submit hard copies, or to receive hard copies of assessments for marking. Guidance is provided below on submission through the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), including specific information about how to do online submission for large files, and online marking and releasing marks and feedback.   

You will need to be clear to students how they submit their work. Student guides are provided below that you can share with your students, covering submitting work and accessing feedback in Turnitin.  

Assessment format:  

You may need to change the format of the assessment. Below are some formats and key things to considerAll changes to assessment mode will require faculty approval.  

It is easier to stick to low-tech and text-based systems: and the simpler the better, this is a challenging time for staff and students alike.  

Written coursework: 

This is the most straightforward assessment to use in these circumstances, and is a format used widely in many disciplines and with which students are familiar. Questions and assessment details can be provided through the VLE and students are given a period of multiple days or weeks to complete the assessment. Students then can submit their work online and remotely.   

Take home exam:  

This type of assessment requires students to complete a task within a set time limit (a 24 hour period between the release of the question(s) and the deadline for answers to be submitted). It differs from a standard coursework assessment due to the short period of time from question release to submission, and from a standard exam as students are completing this in an “open book” setting.   

As students will have access to information and materials, the design of questions may need to be reframed to move away from recall-based tasks, to questions that require students to demonstrate how they use information they have learned.    

This type of assessment can provide an opportunity to assess learning outcomes related to developing an argument, synthesising, comparing and utilising sources.    

Presentations (verbal and creative):   

In-class presentations can be moved to online formats. You may ask students to submit video presentations or make arrangements for these to be completed live from a distance through Teams or Zoom. We would recommend a recording, as a live presentation may be impacted by bandwidth or other technical issues.    

Students can also make recordings over Powerpoint slides, or simply through low-tech alternatives such as their smart phone which they can then upload into Panopto (ReCap); see the resources section below. You may need to adjust the marking criteria in light of the change of format as appropriate and provide alternatives for any students who do not have the equipment to complete a video recording.   

Lab work:  

Alternatives for lab work are particularly challenging in a remote learning situation and they may not be possible to address at all. One alternative is to provide students with a data set which they then need to interpret; this would shift the assessment focus to their interpretation of data rather than achieving the results in the lab themselves. This data could be from public data sets, research already completed by a module leader or a group, or a set of synthetic data.   

Data analysis of this type could be provided as a piece of coursework, or as part of a take home exam. If this analysis requires specialist software, you will need to be sure it is software that students can access remotely, alternatively you can design this so it requires only software that is commonly available, for example Microsoft Excel. 

Online automatically  marked and short written answer  questions: 

There will be no secure online exams in the Term 3 Assessment Period – this includes all OLAF exams and WiseFlow exams delivered through the Digital Exams Service.   

Blackboard tests is a tool that includes several short knowledge type questions such as MCQs which can be automatically marked. Do not use Blackboard tests for long written answer/essay questions.   

Blackboard tests functionality could be used for a take-home exam for a module. This will not be in a locked down format and students will have access to materials. Within these constraints, Blackboard tests offers an opportunity to test understanding and knowledge. If you are using this format for a take home exam, the exam will need to be open for the approved 24 hour period.  

In the current situation, Blackboard tests are an option that is probably only suitable for those colleagues with existing experience of the tool, or a previously planned digital exams that could be repurposed as required.   

You may also choose to use blackboard test functionality as part of an alternative assessment in a module as part of a piece of coursework.

Numbas, developed by the e-learning unit in the school of mathematics, statistics and physics provides an alternative to Blackboard tests and could also be used for a take-home exam or as part of an alternative assessment.  

Posters and visual coursework:  

The submission of physical posters or similar will not be possible, but you could move to a digital submission of such coursework. Students would need to be given guidance on file size, including reducing the size of files, and the file types that can be submitted to Turnitin through the VLE.    

Guidance is also provided below on other submissions (often portfolios) that require a file size larger than 100mb, which can be made through a blackboard assignment instead of a Turnitin assignment. In most circumstances for a single file it is most effective to provide simple instructions to your students on reducing the size of the file size prior to submission.   

Group work:  

Existing group assignments and presentations require additional considerations, they may not be appropriate in the circumstances, and alternative assessments may need to be identified.    

If group work is approved, students should not meet in person and instead should use the online collaboration tools available to them, such as the Office365 suite of tools. You will also need to be responsive to groups which are affected by one or more of the students becoming unwell, or working from different timezones. These may be significant challenges and as such you may wish to move away from this type of assessment.  

Other forms of assessment that may be used widely in particular disciplines will also be affected. Subject areas may need to work collectively to identify approaches to these, in line with the assessment policies and in liaison with their relevant faculty teams.   

Assessment deadlines:  

Given the changes to teaching, learning and assessment it may be appropriate to allow more time to complete work. This would need to be considered as a teaching team and in conjunction with the professional services teams who support teaching.  

Queries and discussions regarding changing deadlines should be directed to Heads of Academic Unit and DELTs in the first instance, as local arrangements for managing changes may be in place.   

Making and communicating changes: 

If changes are made to planned assessments these will need to be coordinated across the programme.  Implementing this will require communication between module leaders, Degree Programme Directors and the learning and teaching teams in the schools, following the direction of travel set out by the School’s executive team.  

Our students will have particular concerns about the impact of this situation on their summative assessments and progression. Clear and concise communication, coordinated where possible across the modules in a programme, will help to ensure that our students can easily access the information they need  

The changes to assessment that you put in place may result in new formats that students have not used before, such as take home exams; you will need to clearly communicate the assessment expectations of these to your students. 


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