[32] The use and implementation of online assessment (formative and summative).


The use and implementation of online assessment (formative and summative).


Charlie Earle and Angharad Thomas


When and how online assessment can be used within a module is a question which is increasingly likely to be asked by a lecturer. Online assessment not only allows a lecturer to assess the students’ knowledge but also to ascertain the engagement of the class with the taught material. As a lecturer, it is useful to see what parts of the course are proving problematic to students and this can be done relatively easily by using formative assessment online. Online assessment can also reduce the marking load of a lecturer significantly and can also reduce opportunities for academic misconduct by either providing different variables within a question for each student or having question banks where different students get a different selection of questions.
The Physics Department has been using online assessment in many of its modules for several years. Following a presentation on e-assessment at the SALT Conference 2018 (by Dr Angharad M Thomas), NUMBAS (a free online software) was used in a Healthcare Science module during this academic year.
‘Research Methods and Statistics’ is a 10 credit module with poor attendance and poor feedback for Healthcare Science. Mean attendance rates for eight of the main teaching sessions last year (2018) was 58% (n=42), with 7% (n=5) not attending any lectures. Module feedback on average, scored 3.6/5 last year.
Healthcare science students must achieve a pre-defined University attendance, in order to be eligible for their bursary, so it was clear the module content was insufficient to motivate attendance. Students must all pass every module in order to progress each academic year.
In 2019, the module drastically altered, with changes to content, delivery method, lecturers and assessment.
The introduction of a summative ‘Data Manipulation’ exam (35% weighting) halfway through the module was perhaps the most controversial alteration. Students consented to these changes, despite anticipated reluctance of introducing a statistics assessment. NUMBAS was used to assess the students. The test involved multiple choice questions, and simple statistics calculations (for example; t-test, ANOVA, mean, standard deviation).
Students were given practice examinations, allowing them three attempts at a random selection of questions written for the module.
On 1st April 2019 students sat the 1-hour examination. All students (n=47) passed the examination, with an average score of 100 % (to nearest whole number). Student feedback on the module is currently being collected (until 15th May 2019) and it will be analysed and compared to last year’s, but verbal feedback so far has been very positive.
All marking and moderation was completed within 30 hours of the examination finishing, so as soon as the 5-day window for extenuating circumstances had passed the results could be released.
The aim of this workshop is to show staff members the NUMBAS software, and how it can be implemented into both summative and formative assessments (including examinations), for a wide range of degree programmes.

Session Outline

The session will start with a brief introduction to online assessment methods (including Blackboard, Numbas etc). Physics has been using online assessment methods for over 6 years and has developed many different methods to support students and assess them. NUMBAS is used across many modules in Physics and has also recently been introduced in a module in Healthcare Sciences. There are benefits and potential risks of using online assessment methods, and these will be discussed as well as the students’ response to online assignments (by way of the Student Module Evaluation).
The main part of the workshop will be an opportunity for the participants to try out some of the NUMBAS tests and assignments themselves. The participants will be invited to register on the test module within Blackboard (“e-assessment”) so that they can experience the NUMBAS tests and assignments as a student. The participants will also see how the system looks to the instructor and how to access interesting data regarding student performance, engagement etc.

Key Messages

1. To understand the impact of online assessment methods; to save time (lecturing and marking), increase student learning and engagement, improve the student experience.
2. To become familiar with NUMBAS and understand how to create basic questions.
3. To think about how online assessment such as NUMBAS could be embedded into other modules/programmes.

Key Words

Online assessment, blended learning, NUMBAS

FOR STAFF USE ONLY The presentation will require a PC room, with a main projector/front screen connected. All PC’s will require internet access.

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