Quick ideas for supporting assessment at a distance

If working remotely there will be a need to support students in the preparation of their assessment work. Here’s a few ideas on how support can be offered at a distance.

Create a walk-through video of an assignment task (as a refresher or to launch an assignment)

assignmnet

Make a quick video to walk through the key features of an assessment task. This is useful as a tool for launching an assignment at a distance or for providing a refresher on the requirements a specific assessment. Screencast tools (such as screencast-o-matic) allow you to quickly capture the activity on your screen and provide a voice over. The result is a video which can talk through any aspect of assessment.  Here is a rough example to show how this can work (this one is a reminder rather than a launch video).

Create a frequently asked question page

faq

Undoubtedly students will have individual questions about assessment. To help staff to manage their time, and to ensure all students get access to the same information, consider creating a frequently asked question page (FAQ’s). As a student asks a question individually, post the response to the entire group. The question may have been by phone, or email, or some other means, but posting the answer back helps provide essential assessment clarification to all students. There are different ways to do this -you may just add a forum and post answers to questions received, or you could create a page that you build up over time. You might consider uploading audio responses to questions received so students can listen back.

Speed-write

speed

If, perhaps for the first time, students encounter a time-limited online open-book exam i.e. where they have a set time to complete a task, consider getting everyone familiar with the approach by posting a question in the same format as the ones in the actual assessment task.  Then give a set amount of time to undertake a practice (although with flexibility for those who can’t make the synchronous event). No need for anyone to post a their answer(s), and it may be too much to give individual feedback, but a facilitated follow up discussion would allow students to share concerns and things that worked well practically in their experience, and it would allow a meaningful discussion to clarify what a good response might include. It’s an opportunity for students to practice and self-assess with guidance, and for tutors to grow confident with the approach too.

Provide a top tips presentation or document

tips

Using slides, a help sheet, a narrated presentation or some other means, consider highlighting tips for success. If this is a new assessment then consider creating top tips that clarify your expectations of what you will look for and what should be avoided. If it is similar to a previous assessment, then draw on this experience and frame the tips as lessons learn from previous cohorts.

Post up some past examples of student work as exemplars

exemplar

Exemplars are examples of student work that are used to help students understand the requirements of an assessment task through discussion and other means. In class, examples of past student work can be physically shared and discussed. Consider sharing work online (a section of a previous student’s work, or a full assignment) and then perhaps:

  • Offer some ‘tutor’ commentary about what was ‘good’ or in need of development. This can be done in several ways online e.g. a forum discussion, a downloadable Word document which provides tutor ‘comments’ on the example work or a screen-cast video which talks through the markers thoughts on a previously submitted piece of work.
  • Facilitate a forum discussion of the exemplar, so that key assessment questions are surfaced and requirements clarified.
  • Consider whether groups of students can discuss an exemplar in small groups, and then share back their learning and questions in a discussion.

As in a face-to-face situation, it is really important to consider factors such as permissions, and to ensure the discussion remains constructive (this is someone’s work).  If the assessment is entirely new, consider making an example answer (not a model answer) and asking students to identify and discuss the strengths and limitations of your attempt.

Use quizzes to support self-testing or revision

quiz

Quizzes can provide a way of students self-testing and getting feedback, but they should have a clear purpose– who has time for pointless quizzes!? A helpful quiz might help students to realise whether they are making very common errors before they attempt an assignment – by making distractors (the answers which are incorrect) things that students often get wrong.  Make sure the purpose of the quiz is clear to students if you want them to give time engage – especially when under pressure.

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