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Here are some thoughts on feedback and assessment from around the University:


Jeremy Knox, Lecturer in Digital Education
We are lucky. The online mode offers creative opportunities for assessment.
The question is how to creatively engage students so we can recognise the value of their learning.
We should include a variety of multimodal ways for students to produce work.

Dr Sharron Oggle, Biomedical Sciences
Diversity of assessment allows teachers to make it relevant to the types of work the students will be doing.
The online mode offers more freedom to explore different modes of assessment to suit each course and cohort.

Traditional methods include:

  • Essays
  • Technical reports
  • Scientific papers

Ideally, don’t do same type of assessment twice, as the variety is better for preparing them for professional life and drawing on variety of strengths.

However, that variety is less popular with students (especially US based students) who are used to being able to follow a rubric and a set of rules and get 100%.

Online assessment methods include:

  • Assessing discussions and interactions between students – who’s saying things, providing evidence, researching and coming back with new answers, redirecting conversations, and connecting previous points made.
  • Debates can be used for assessment: assign each student to a side.
  • Stakeholder approaches can be used to model professionally appropriate scenarios.
  • Tasks can be assigned, eg students can be asked to review communications by a website.

Dr Timothy Drysdale, Engineering
Dr Drysdale discussed a project by Coby Gahl on automated evaluation of students interacting with online open ended simulations. The idea is to test not just knowing but performing that knowledge, eg test engineers doing engineering tasks, allowing for a more authentic assessment.

He described ‘strategic’ students that don’t want to do anything that’s not for credit. Teachers can provide that motivation to students at multiple points during the course, for example with assessed homework, quizzes and labs instead of only exams, so that these students are not only teachable in the last 2 weeks before exams.

Students want feedback on demand when they’re open to it, when they’re teachable. This raises issues of scaling. To solve this, provide some form of automated feedback that a student can access when they want it eg automatically check the picture to text balance in a draft.

Sian Bayne
Technology is a good thing but it does different things from humans so let’s use it for what it’s good for.

What kinds of feedback are automated systems good at providing?
We should offer those as instant triaging, to increase feelings of responsiveness, connectedness and guidance.

To keep track of how well this is working, we should generate and evaluate our own evidence as we go.

Callum MacGregor, Lecturer in Education
Online education can offer insights for on campus teaching too.
For example, blogging throughout the semester, with formative feedback, can provide raw material for a final assessment.

Sharon Boyd, Vet School
They have been putting together a bank of different assessment types that new course teams can use when putting together courses.

They use a mixture of different assessments, working with a group of students to get feedback on their assessments.
They ask questions about communicating with diverse audiences and being creative in assessments.

Nina Morris, Geography
She teaches using active and experiential learning.
Using blogs helps the students become more creative in representing the activities and projects they do.
Blogs are a personal, emotional form of assessment, allowing for creative in depth discussion of the topic.
Students can personalise them by adding images, sound, film clips, and links out to other forms of knowledge.
Blogs are labour intensive for marking but enjoyable to read. It is hard to find grade related marking criteria for blogs.
They are like a development from paper based learning journals. They started with the journal function in Learn, then this year transferred to WordPress.

Blogs start off private, because most students have never written an academic blog before, and some topics are very personal.

She would like to have a public facing course site featuring the students’ blogs in future, for communicating academic ideas and theory to public. They would have to ask the students’ permission for this.

Areti Manakawi, Medical Informatics

They use a mixture of simple quizzes about scratch programs, with screenshots, and peer assessment of scratch programming projects.

Each student assesses coursework by 3 of their classmates. Students are given a clear and precise rubric for marking but they also got to see how others approached the task.

They provide short readings on how tos, do’s and don’ts, links to help pages on Coursera, and discussion forums.
They produce help videos in response to questions.

Setting expectations is crucial:
Be very clear about what is expected from the students and what is expected of you as a team.

Louise Connelly, senior e-learning developer, vet school

The online MScs use formative assignments, such as a virtual crime scene, to prepare for assessment. These are interactive, leading through each step of how to do the assignment. They make the formative assignments applicable to real life, using tasks such as policy briefs, reports, presentation to media, posters, and 3 minute audio presentations.

Teachers must be aware of any kind of accessibility issues, ranging from broadband access to learning difficulties, hearing, visual impairment, and plan for how else can the students can access the assignments.

(Main image: Evaluation. Free graphic from Needpix)