A guide to moving assessments online

Important note

Please consider the following guidance before deciding on alternative online assessment methods.

Important: this guidance has been updated to reflect the following 2 communications with staff and students [as of 24/03/2020]. It is important that you review these guides carefully before making any decisions on assessment.

This page was last updated at 17:05 on 02/04/2020.

Where to start?

Before deciding on alternative online assessment methods

Start with the learning outcomes

  • Always start with the learning outcomes of the modules, and the specific learning outcomes being evidenced by the specific assessment being modified. Any alternative assessment should align with these outcomes as much as possible.
  • Focus on what is proportionate and practicable. If you believe the learning outcomes for the module have already been met, either within the module or elsewhere in the programme, there may be no need for an additional assessment, unless there is a specific requirement from a PSRB. Please discuss this as soon as possible with your Deputy/ Associate Head of Department.
  • Reflect on whether the alternative assessment approach requires further effort by students, for example, increasing the time spent on the assessment task.
  • Consider whether the students have sufficiently developed skills to demonstrate their learning. Where possible, they should have the opportunity to trial any unfamiliar approach as a formative assessment such as an online quiz.

Communicate, communicate, communicate

  • Clear, comprehensive instructions to students should support all aspects of the online assessment.
  • Provide guidance regarding the required file formats and the submission approach and operation for online assessments.
  • Remind students about guidance on plagiarism available via the Library website
  • Provide examples of assignments and use these as opportunities to discuss what is assessed, how, and what good looks like in the context of a given assignment.
  • Think about how you communicate with students and how you will inform them of the changes to assessment methods, for example, you can use a short video. Make sure you update Blackboard and signpost these updates accordingly.
  • Students may be experiencing some uncertainty and anxiety about the changing circumstances they find themselves in. Clear communication is of paramount importance at this point in time. All communications should be regularly updated and should follow Faculty expectations and guidelines. Above all, be careful not to mislead students inadvertently. Because we are working in such a changeable environment, it is better to be honest and say you don’t yet know what is happening than to say things that you later have to correct.

Reasonable adjustment

Online submissions, grading and feedback

  • Consider how you will adjust existing assessment criteria/rubrics, to ensure they align with the alternative assessment approach.
  • Such adjustments need to be explained to students.
  • The adjustments should be part of moderation and calibration conversations with the assessment team on each module.
  • Consider if members of the assessment team may need further guidance and upskilling.
  • Plan and seek guidance on submission processes and how to ensure secure storage of online assessments. Standard Blackboard submission guidance
  • In some cases, the format of assessments may remain the same although the setting of it might change. For example, the original assessment may be based on a field trip or face-to-face interviews. Hence, you could consider how you could customise the assessment and indicate what resources may be needed to access, and how it can relate to their existing experiences or contexts.
  • Use of originality checker software needs to be considered, and clearly signposted to students. If in doubt, contact your local Assessment Offences Advisors.

Once you have designed and instituted alternative online assessment methods

Revisit the learning outcomes

  • Consider the questions/tasks you are setting and how these allow students to demonstrate meeting the relevant learning outcomes.
  • Think about constructive alignment. Make sure students themselves are clear about these intended outcomes and emphasise the links between these and the new assessment.
  • Encourage originality of thought
    • Avoid commonly used case studies, examples or assessment topics that have been used in previous years.
    • Require answers that will capture students’ thinking as well as the results, conclusions or outcomes that may be captured in briefer responses.
    • Encourage the use of personal and recent examples, asking students to contextualise to own experience where possible, and to use personal reflection.
    • Give students different examples or data sets to work from, where manageable (via timed email and mail merge). Further detail on designing out plagiarism in online assessment can be found here. UWE There are also guides on assessment offences

Communicate, communicate, communicate.

  • Make sure all changes are made clear to your students – you might also consider a short video outlining your changes and providing specific guidance in addition to the headline information. Don’t forget to offer virtual drop-ins/office hours where your students can book time to discuss these changes with you.
  • When describing the assessment task – focus on clarity of language with clear instructions and questions. This includes (as appropriate): work count (including guidance on specific sections), and the time to be spent on the assessment task.
  • Use assessment brief templates, and language and terms that students are familiar with, and that comply with the policy and practices of your department/faculty.

Reasonable adjustment

Online submissions, grading and feedback

Submitting large files for assessment

If you are expecting, or there is the potential for large file submissions for an assessment, files should be shared by students rather than uploaded directly to Blackboard. If a submission file is expected to be less than 100 MB, it can uploaded to Blackboard as usual.

If you expect submission files to be larger than 100 MB, students can share the file directly from their UWE OneDrive and submit a link to the file in Blackboard. The Learner guidance below should be shared with students.

Please do not forget that following submission a student still has access to their submitted file. It is important to check the file properties to see when it was last edited when marking (in file explorer, right click on the file and then click properties, this will show date last modified). If it has been modified after the submission deadline, you may wish to have a discussion with the student about it.

Link to Learner Guidance for submitting large files for sharing with your students. Please note: this includes a link to a video that your students might find useful.