Tag Archives: Assessment and Feedback

Digital exam system usability testing

Are you a member of academic or professional services staff interested in digital exams?

The digital exam system procurement process is going ahead as planned, and we are making adjustments to enable staff to participate in usability testing while remote working. 

We appreciate that this is a very busy time for colleagues across the University. However, it is necessary to go ahead with usability testing now to support the digital exam system procurement process.  If you are interested and have capacity to participate in usability testing your contribution will be very valuable. 

We are looking for volunteers to test digital exam systems, to help assess how user friendly each one is.  Testers’ feedback will be a key part of the evaluation stage of the tender process, and have a direct impact on which digital exam system the University introduces from next academic year.   

Usability testing is open to all University staff.  You can choose to test from the perspective of either: 

An exam administrator testing how to create exam settings, and manage marking and moderation processes.  Approximately 90 minutes per system. 

An academic testing how to create exam questions, and carry out marking and moderation.  Approximately 2 hours per system. 

To participate you need to commit to test all of the systems that meet the University’s mandatory requirements, which we estimate may be between 2 and 4 systems.  This is required to ensure that the evaluation process is fair, and we’ll be able to confirm the number of systems being tested the week before the testing begins.   

Full instructions and video demonstrations will be provided for each testing task. You can complete the testing tasks at any time that suits your schedule over the usability testing period from Monday 1 June to Monday 15 June. 

To register your interest in doing usability testing please complete this form by 12 noon on Tuesday 26 May 2020.  Please contact digital.exams@newcastle.ac.uk with any queries. 

Transition to the Digital Exams Service: A Timeline

Following our October 2019 post introducing the digital exam service, we have a progress update and some news about what’s happening next.  Centrally supported digital exam provision (including the OLAF Service, and the Diversifying online exam provision project) is being combined into a single service, and we are reviewing our requirements ready to tender for a system that meets our needs. 

February 2020 

Requirement Mapping Workshops will be taking place. The outcomes of these sessions will help to inform the requirements that we will take to system providers.  All academic and professional services staff with an interest in digital exams are invited to contribute.  Please sign up via the link to have your say! 

March 2020 

Tender for digital exam system (30-35 days response time). A set of final requirements will be issued. 

April – May 2020 

Scoring of tender submissions against requirements will take place alongside user testing of software that meets our mandatory requirements.  Look out for updates about how to get involved. 

June  July 2020 

A provider will be awarded the contract to supply a digital exam system to the University.  

Following this, work will be undertaken to move as much of existing digital exam questions and content into the new system as is possible. 

August 2020 

The new system will be vigorously tested and integrated with University systems. User guidance and training for all stakeholder will be developed. 

August assessment period

Any exam deferrals and resits in the August assessment period will need to be completed/submitted in Canvas. The Blackboard license ends on July 31st and from that point no staff or students will be able to access that system.

Schools should adopt the same method of assessment that was used in Semester 2 for any resits/deferrals in the August assessment period. If a Blackboard test was used in the Semester 2 assessment period, then a Canvas quiz should be used in the August assessment period.

If you ran an OLAF exam in Semester 1 you can either deliver the resit using a Canvas quiz or a Turnitin submission.

Information and support is available via the Education Continuity webpages.

September 2020 

Digital Exam Service launches with new software – OLAF is no more. 

All digital exams previously taken in both Blackboard as part of the OLAF service and in WISEflow as part of the Diversifying Online Exam Provision project will be delivered using the chosen software. 

Training will be offered to all academic and professional services staff involved in delivering digital exams, and briefing information will be available for students. 

Phil Race and Sally brown – Assessment and feedback videos

Heriot-Watt University have released a range of videos of Professor Phil Race and Professor Sally Brown discussing key elements of assessment and feedback.

Phil is an authority on assessment and is widely published, including the excellent “The Lecturer’s Toolkit”.

Sally is Emerita Professor at Leeds Metropolitan and regularly keynotes at Educational conferences. Sally developed the National Teaching Fellowship scheme when working at the Higher Education Academy.

We’ve embedded some of the videos below, but please visit Youtube to view more of these videos.

Giving your first lecture

Marking your first assignment

Sally Brown – Marking your first assignment

Feedback on Assessment

Sally Brown – Feedback on assessment

Student Tips – feedback on assessment

Measuring Learning

Introducing the digital exams service

Building on the solid foundations of OLAF provision, and the successful first 2 years of the Diversifying and Expanding Online Exam Provision project, the University’s Technology Enhanced Learning Sub-Committee have approved the launch of a new combined Digital Exams service.

The story so far …

Newcastle University’s Online Assessment and Feedback (OLAF) Service has been running high stakes secure online exams using Blackboard’s test tool since 2007/08. The 13 years since that first exam have seen OLAF come of age, supported by well-established institutional processes that ensured all 132 OLAF exams in 2018/19 went smoothly.

In 2017/18 the Diversifying and Expanding Online Exam Provision project was launched, and the first of some new types of digital exams were piloted using software called WISEflow. Bring Your Own Device was introduced, enabling students to use their own laptops to sit a secure digital exam. Alongside this, moving essay and long written answer exam questions from paper to online has also become possible for the first time.

Continue reading Introducing the digital exams service

Assessment and Feedback

By Helen Webster, Head of the Writing Development Centre

“The structure doesn’t flow”

“You need to engage more critically with the literature”

“More detail and greater depth of discussion needed”

“Hard to follow – make sure your points are clearly expressed”

It’s frustrating both to give and receive feedback repeatedly on the same issues and not see any improvement. Feedback is highlighted in the NSS and NUSU campaigns so we know that students see it as a priority. We also know that academic staff don’t always feel that students are engaging with their feedback or even recognise it as such. Continue reading Assessment and Feedback

Student views on feedback forms

To find out more a student intern, working with staff in LTDS,  evaluated existing feedback forms and gathered opinions from students to identify what works and what could be improved. The project considered a total of 66 forms from 19 different schools and included focus groups and interviews with individual students.

What did they find?

These are a few key findings and you can find full details in the project report.

Form Design

Have clear, separate sections showing:

  • Strengths and areas for improvement
  • Clear advice for future work

Only use tick boxes for objective areas of the marking criteria, such as grammar. When tick boxes were used for subjective areas, such as argument, students found this unhelpful.

Look at your feedback forms and consider whether these should be redesigned. Consult with the students in your school as part of the process.

Utilising the form

Type feedback, wherever possible.

Introduce structured opportunities to help students understand:

  • expectations of the marking criteria
  • the ways in which this is reflected in the feedback sheet

Discuss how you use marking sheets with your colleagues. Try to develop a consistent approach to:

  • the volume of feedback
  • the use of notes in margins

For more information get in touch with LTDS@ncl.ac.uk

Higher Education Academy: Communities of Practice

Are you looking to share knowledge and ideas with higher education professionals nationally and globally?

The Higher Education Academy (HEA)  Communities of Practice offer an exciting opportunity for members to take part in discussions, webinars, blogs, thought platforms and more .  Communities  focus on a number of keys areas including employability,  and assessment and feedback.

Interested? Read on to find out more. Continue reading Higher Education Academy: Communities of Practice