Summing Up: 10 Tips

The first 3 tips are general good practice ideas for assessment – with and without technology – and provide a solid foundation for development.

  1. Are your assessments aligned[1] with the learning outcomes? This may appear obvious but:
    1. Sometime they are not!
    2. Over time they can ‘drift’ off target
  2. Make sure you explicitly map the assessments to the outcomes and record that mapping in the course documentation – better still – make this clear to your students.
  3. How does this assessment help your students to learn? Look at the aims and outcomes for your course then look at these aspects of an assessment:
    1. Purpose
    2. Criteria (what knowledge / skills are being assessed)
    3. Methods (how the assessment is done – e.g. essay / practical)
    4. Instruments (the actual questions / tasks you set the students)
    5. Timely?
    6. Feedback
  4. Design – Record any changes to an existing assessment and store that in the system for Internal Verification (quality) that your college uses:
    1. Use an assessment design change template document (take the one produced by this project as a starting point).
    2. Take this as an opportunity to review and provide alternative arrangements for students with disabilities
  5. Prepare a short and clear ‘External Verifier (EV) narrative’ to provide to the EV that describes and explains the changes made and the use of technology. As the evidence the EV need to examine is now digital provide clear step by step instructions for how to find and access the evidence – it makes everyone’s life easier. Store this with the normal documentation. This stops last minute panics and provides continuity for staff turnover – you can use the redesign template for this
  6. Make sure you and other teaching staff are proficient with the tech tools you are using – particularly the VLE grade records and management system and their links into the college students records system.
  7. Always test the assessment personally after setting it up – do this by ‘walking through the process from end-to-end (e.g. take the quiz, submit the essay online etc.) and then go through the online marking and feedback steps – use a test student account to make sure you see what the student will see. Check on the live assessment activity if it goes on over a period of time (like an online essay submission ‘window’) to catch any problems or student inactivity
  8. Student digital literacy and independent learning:Students do not like surprises. If this is a new assessment method (like a quiz / MCQ) make sure you do a ‘test run’ first, using it as a formative assessment is a good method for introducing it to students before the final summative assessment. If you are using an online automated method (MCQ etc.) for a summative assessment always carry out a practice assessment with your students in the real setting first (i.e. in the actual computer lab etc.).
    1. Experience and research increasingly shows serious gaps in student digital literacy abilities. So do not fall into the trap of assuming that all young people are all aces with technology – there are likely to be problems with using college systems. Make sure you provide proper induction and support into using college learning technology systems and remediation where needed. This is likely best done on campus using college technical and classroom facilities – and in the early stages of a programme of study
    2. If you are expecting your students to undertake independent study as part of their course, particularly if this includes using college IT systems, then this needs to be introduced early in their college career. Again, this is best done on campus using college technical and classroom facilities
  1. Collaborate and plan ahead – things work best when the work is shared. This is particularly true of using e-learning technologies in education. It will make things easier for everyone. Technology is quite unforgiving if you are not organised! So don’t leave things to the last minute. That approach might work with paper – but not with technology. Remember to use the systems mindset advocated in this toolkit and look ahead to identify potential problems and bottlenecks. Simple techniques include:
    1. Have e-assessment as a regular item on departmental meeting agendas
    2. Create an annual / semester timetable that identifies key actions related to e-assessment
    3. Create a checklist / guide for setting up the assessments in the systems you use – as you only do this once or twice a year it is easy to forget how
    4. Examine ways of involving administration staff in running the VLE – the prevalent model of lecturers doing everything themselves is not sustainable.
    5. Share learning resources across a course! Teaching ‘silos’ using different resource on the same course provide a confusing learner experience and result in waste and duplication. This is part of moving to a team teaching approach – needed to use technology effectively
    6. Develop and implement a shared online course structure template across the college and have all the assessments for a course located in a section called ‘Assessment’. The quality office is your ally here in making this mandatory. These simple things can make a massive difference to the student experience.

[1] The MIT Teaching and Learning Lab has produced a useful guide to this: http://tll.mit.edu/help/assessment-outcome-alignment

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