Collecting assignments during campus closure is fairly straightforward, since many instructors already collect work electronically. The main challenge during a campus disruption is whether students have access to computers, as anyone needing a campus computer lab may be unable to access necessary technologies. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Require only common software: Students may not have access to specialty software located in on-campus computer labs so unless the students have permissions to load software onto a computer they can access, they may be unable to use these tools. Be ready with a backup plan for such students.
- Avoid emailed attachments: It may be easy to collect assignments in small classes via email, but larger classes might swamp your email inbox. Consider using assignments in Canvas instead. Balance what is simplest for students with what is easiest for you to manage,
- State expectations but be ready to allow extensions : Some students will undoubtedly have difficulties meeting deadlines. Make expectations clear but be ready to provide more flexibility than you normally would in your class.
- Request PDF files when appropriate: It may be easier and safer to ask students to upload essays, reports, etc. as PDF files, this will make it easier for you to correct and comment on too.
- Require specific filenames: It may sound trivial, but anyone who collects papers electronically knows the pain of getting 20 files named Essay1.pdf. Give your students a simple file naming convention, for example, FirstnameLastname-Essay1.pdf.
In addition, It is fairly easy to give small quizzes in Canvas to hold students accountable or do spot-checks on their learning, and this might be ideal to keep students on track during class disruptions. Providing high-stakes tests online can be challenging, however; they place extra stress on students, and test integrity is difficult to ensure.
General tips for assessing student learning during class disruption:
- Embrace short quizzes: Short quizzes can be a great way to keep students engaged with module concepts, particularly if they are interspersed with small chunks of video lecture. Consider using very-low-stakes quizzes to give students practice at applying concepts—just enough points to hold them accountable, but not so many that the activity becomes all about points.
- Move beyond simple facts: It is good to reinforce concepts through practice on a quiz, but generally it is best to move beyond factual answers that students can quickly look up. Instead, write questions that prompt students to apply concepts to new scenarios, or ask them to identify the best of multiple correct answers.
- Check for publishers' test banks : If you are already using a publisher's textbook in your course, check to see whether the publisher has question banks that can be loaded into Canvas. Even if you don't use these questions for your exams, they can be useful for simple quizzes.
- Update expectations for projects: Students' may have limited access to resources they need to complete papers or other projects, and team projects may be harmed by a team's inability to meet. Be ready to change assignment expectations based on the limitations this crisis may impose. Possible options include allowing individual rather than group projects, having groups record presentations, or adjusting the types of resources needed for research papers.
- Consider alternate exams: Delivering a secure exam online can be difficult without a good deal of preparation and support, so consider giving open-book exams or other types of exams. They can be harder to grade, but you have fewer worries about. The following may prove useful from:
- Irish Higher Education institutions and organisations
- Selecting Online Alternatives to Common Assessment Methods a resource from the National Forum for the Enhancement for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education containing case studies and resources from the Irish context.
- Guidance for Designing Alternative Assessment Methods COVID 19 Contingency - a useful resource produced by University College Dublin containing some core principles to consider when designing alternative assessment
- Exemplars and Case Studies of Technology-Enhanced Assessment in FE and HE Institutions - a guide developed by DCU Teaching Enhancement Unit as part of the Irish Universities Association Enhancing Digital Teaching and Learning Project that contains a bank of technology-enhanced assessment exemplars across a range of disciplines.
- The Hitch-hiker's Guide to Alternative Assessment - an excellent resource by Damien T. Gordan Computer Science Lecturer, and Educational & Disability advocate, TU Dublin.
- International Higher Education institutions:
- Contingency-planning-exploring-rapid-alternatives-to-face-to-face-assessment - advice from Prof Sally Brown (Emerita Professor of Higher Education Diversity in Teaching and Learning at Leeds Metropolitan University, Visiting Professor at University of Plymouth, Adjunct Professor at University of the Sunshine Coast, and James Cook University) and Prof Kay Sambell (Professor of Higher Education Pedagogy, Department of Learning and Teaching Enhancement, Edinburgh Napier University)
- Alternatives to Traditional Exams and Papers Resources from Indiana University Bloomington listing many alternative assessment options
The following resources may also prove useful:
- UCD Teaching & Learning: Assessment Workload and Equivalences
- National Forum for the Enhancement for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education:
- Academic Standards & Integrity
- Guiding principles for alternative assessments (devised in response to the COVID-19 emergency restrictions) – prepared by Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI)
- COVID-19: Initial Guidance for Higher Education Providers on Standards and Quality - guidance from the UK’s QAA aimed at supporting all providers of UK higher education to manage quality and academic standards in these unprecedented times
- Implementing remotely invigilated online exams at scale – an exploration of key lessons and successes of the University of New England's experience in implementing large scale remotely invigilated (proctored) online exams where students use their own computer to do an exam in their own space under supervised conditions
Education for and detection of contract cheating in virus times - how we can respond to contract cheating in these challenging times from the Campus Morning Mail an independent Australian newsletter