Remote Assessment

Laura Hollinshead, Learning Technologist-Curriculum Development

A student studying

Many assessments translate well to remote delivery, however, there are a few areas where it can be more difficult to see how something which is typically delivered face-to-face can be moved online. We already have a comprehensive guide on this as part of the Digital Practice Handbook providing advice on coursework, presentations and vivas, demonstrations of skill, physical artefacts and timed assessments.

The tips we provide here are more general, helping you to consider some good practice principles when thinking of remote assessment.

There are many aspects to consider when thinking about remote assessment. The first and biggest change will be the environment in which the assessment is taking place as we have less control over this than if students were on campus.

  • Will the students have the equipment or information they need to complete the assessment?
  • Do they have the right study space they need to complete the assessment?
  • Will the students have the opportunity to practice for their assessment?
  • How can the students ask questions about their assessment to help them prepare?
A workstation and laptop

You will need to consider all these things when you are thinking about either adapting or redesigning your assessment to work remotely. Some recent examples of assessments which have been adapted include:

  • In CLANS, programmes that are field and laboratory based have had to re-frame final year independent studies and PGT dissertation work to focus on desk-based studies. Academic staff have sourced datasets, either from their own research, or from external organisations with whom they have connections, to enable students to undertake this kind of research project.
  • In Forensic Science, Level 6 students are required to deliver an expert witness testimony in a courtroom setting. Following the move to remote learning the module team worked closely with students to create a virtual court setting where students would present their testimony via Collaborate. The team produced Panopto lectures with information on the new assessment and how to use the software, with an informal Collaborate drop-in for any questions and to allow students to check their connectivity. This new approach has not only enabled students (and staff) to upskill in remote delivery, but also consider how remote hearings have increased during the current pandemic, providing students with the ability to apply their experiences to a real-life setting.
A student studying

As seen in the last example, it is important to prepare students for these remote assessments and new technologies. Commonly used approaches include:

  • Spelling out what is expected covering when, where and what to submit.
  • Assessment drop-in sessions to help answer student questions. Both synchronous and asynchronous opportunities should be provided for those who can’t attend.
  • An FAQ which is updated regularly to help answer common student queries and pre-empt repeated questions.

Examples of this can be seen within:

  • The Law programme who created a video about how remote timed assessments will work to demystify the process for students.
  • Journalism where Keith Perch (Head of Discipline) has used Collaborate Ultra to create and disseminate video guides for staff and students about end-of-semester assessments, which have been found extremely useful.

This can all help students to feel more comfortable with the remote assessment, understanding the requirements for this, how it will be marked and how to relate the feedback to the assessment criteria.

I am sure you may have your own tips, hints and experiences of adapting assessments, so feel free to let us know at we can then share these within the university community.