Alternative Forms of Assessment

The table below provides some manageable alternatives to consider, together with some important considerations. Suggested here are some reasonable adjustments to be used in times of crisis, which will not exactly replicate the original assessments, but may offer your students some manageable alternatives during challenging times.

Alternative Forms of Assessment Table
If you currently use… You could instead consider using… To ensure standards, you might need to consider…
Time-constrained unseen exams in invigilated exam rooms or in-class tests “Take-away” exams, in which you set the questions or tasks virtually and ask the students to submit their responses electronically within a set period of time (see detailed advice leaflets from LSE4 and Manchester Met below5).

Remote proctoring often relies on students being able to use technology that can be problematic for home use, so it’s not as straightforward.

A Learning Management System (LMS) can support the timed release of examination papers.

As with normal take-away papers where students have access to 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, rather than reiterate what they have learned. It will be important, therefore, to provide guidance for students with the change in orientation of the task. It is also good practice to re-run any changes to question formats through the usual moderation processes.

Although various vendors are working hard to meet urgent demands, it is unlikely you will be able to put this in place for scalable numbers unless you already have systems in place.

To deter cheating, you could advise students that you will run ‘spot checks’ with a sample of the student population, where you will discuss their reasoning for the answers they’ve provided.

In-class presentations where students speak to an audience of their peers/others and are assessed not only on the content but also their presentation techniques Ask students (individually or in groups) to submit a narrated presentation in electronic form that can then be tutor-marked and peer-reviewed.

PowerPoint is familiar to most students, and offers a slide-by-slide voice-narration recording facility.

Ask students to prepare a podcast on the topic to be submitted electronically.

You will need to take account of the fact that, given the recorded presentation format, students can have multiple opportunities to prepare the item they are submitting, rather than having to cope with the one-off nature of a live presentation.
Portfolio, logbook or assessment notebook It is likely that the best solution here is to move hard-copy portfolios to e-portfolios. Where these have already been partially completed, assessors will have to use professional judgement to decide whether sufficient evidence of achievement of the learning objectives has been achieved by the time of your educational institution’s closure.

For some students without ready internet access or lacking digital confidence the move to e-portfolios might be quite challenging, and they may need extra guidance.

Oral exams, for PhD examinations in person, or other forms of oral assessment (e.g. in language learning) These could readily be undertaken by Webex or other electronic remote means (as they already are on occasions when Doctoral examinations are undertaken trans-nationally). Students may need significant support in developing confidence to work virtually where they have no prior experience.
Assessed seminars, group discussions and other similar activities It is likely these could be held in an online platform already used within your educational institution, such as Webex. Staff as well as students may need to be supported to learn how to use this approach if it isn’t currently part of their normal learning experiences.
Lab work It may be possible to replicate some aspects of lab work through simulations where students are presented with data sets and required to interpret them. Often this means focusing on interpretation of data rather than working in the lab to achieve the results personally.

Simulations can also be used remotely so students can ‘see’ data produced elsewhere and be asked to comment/interpret.

If students can be provided with different data sets for personal interpretation, this can mitigate the risk of ‘over-sharing’ or personation.
Posters You can potentially use a digital infographic, mind map or other visuals that can be submitted via your LMS, for example, or posted in shared spaces, particularly if peer review is required. To confirm authenticity of the submitter, you may wish to supplement this with a short online oral.
Objective Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCE) and other test requiring students to demonstrate a range of skills It may be possible for students to submit digital portfolios containing, for example, videos of themselves performing a range of practical tasks. This may be problematic in professional disciplines where the achievement of specific capabilities is required at 100% (e.g. Nursing, drugs calculations).
Peer assessments and support Peers can email each other drafts for comments or use a virtual space within the education institution’s LMS.
Theatre, dance and other performances Individuals and groups can be asked to work off-site to prepare and submit videos of their work, alongside reflective commentaries/accounts. Group performances may well be too complex to organize off-site.

Videos cannot replicate the authentic live performance element but may suffice in crisis time.

Face-to-face feedback Individual and generic group feedback can be delivered by tutors via audio or online means.


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