Improving the assessment and feedback experience

Chris Husbands, Vice-Chancellor, shared his thoughts on the University’s recent National Student Survey on his blog, and within this highlighted that assessment and feedback should be an area of focus for all teaching teams as we continue to strive to improve the student experience.

The move to online management of assessment (OMA) from September 2016, supported by resources generated through the Assessment Journey Programme, provides an opportunity to address some of the issues raised by student feedback, specifically the timeliness of assessment feedback and the quality of feedback.

Here is a summary of the guidance and support that is available to help course teams make improvements around assessment and feedback.

To support the move to OMA, the Assessment Journey Programme will continue to develop the suite of resources and offer training in conjunction with Faculty TEL Teams.

If you have any queries in relation to the above or feel further support is needed, please contact us at ! Assessment Journey Programme.

iPad loan service now available

The University recently announced changes to its Equipment Policy to facilitate mobile and flexible working, and support the move to online management of assessment in the University.

In addition to the roll out of laptops (as required), it was agreed that a central loan service would be developed to provide academic staff with temporary access to mobile equipment during assessment periods.

We are pleased to confirm that an iPad loan service is now available to all academic teaching staff.

Please note the following guidance for accessing this service:

  • Requests can be submitted to Digital Technology Services (DTS) by using the iPad loan request form
  • The loan equipment is provided specifically to support the delivery of online management of assessment
  • The loan period will align with the period of marking and feedback within each semester – a maximum period of 16 weeks within a semester, after which the equipment will need to be returned to DTS
  • Please allow a minimum of 5 working days for processing (between submitting a request and collection)
  • Once a request has been approved by DTS, a confirmation email will be sent including a date and location for collection

New Marks and Feedback Tool to enable the bulk upload of feedback files and marks to Blackboard

New Marks and Feedback Tool to enable the bulk upload of feedback files and marks to Blackboard

We are delighted to announce the launch of a tool to help staff manage assessment online. The tool enables the bulk download of student work and the upload of feedback file attachments and marks generated electronically outside of Blackboard into Grade Centre for an assignment submitted online.

The following instructions provide guidance on the 6-stage process:
Stage 1 – downloading
Stage 2 – unzipping files
Stage 3 – creating feedback
Stage 4 – zipping files
Stage 5 – uploading feedback
Stage 6 – accessing Grade Centre to check that the upload has worked correctly

The instructions also include considerations associated with its use and screencasts for a visual how-to guide.

In case of queries, please contact your local TEL Team for assistance.

We’re into the final year of the programme – what has been delivered to date?

As we enter the final year of the programme, it feels an appropriate time to reflect on progress, so here is a round-up of what has been delivered to date:

Informing, preparing and supporting staff:

  • Development, launch and continued promotion of an online resource, Assessment Essentials, to assist staff with the effective design and delivery of assessment for their students
  • Creation of a series of detailed academic case studies to highlight the use of different assessment practices and technologies and share best practice
  • Enhancement of existing Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) guidance and the creation of over 80 new multi-media resources relating to assessment and feedback
  • Identification of staff equipment requirements and changes to the University’s Equipment Policy agreed and published. Implementation processes defined and communicated to all academic staff
  • Design and delivery of a training programme in conjunction with Faculty TEL Teams, encompassing group sessions, drop-ins and bespoke 1-2-1s
  • Development and delivery of a health and safety action plan
  • University-wide staff engagement and communications to inform, prepare and support staff – range of digital communications, university / faculty events, standing meeting updates, working groups and workshops
  • Training and support for all helpdesk teams

Informing, preparing and supporting students:

  • Development and launch of an online resource, Assessment4students, to provide students with guidance and support around assessment
  • Design and delivery of a student communication strategy at the start of 2016/17 to inform students of the change, clarify expectations and provide support through guidance, resources and helpdesks

Governance & process:

  • Definition and implementation of the new Policy for Summative Assessment for 2016/17
  • Definition and communication of the operating models for the management of submission and associated processes in conjunction with faculties
  • Development and communication of a business continuity model in the event of system failure
  • Process improvement work considering seven academic and administrative processes

Technical development:

  • Identification of the detailed technical requirements of the business and engagement with suppliers on development, costs and timeframes
  • Deployment of:
    – a quick enrol functionality to support administrative staff with access to Blackboard module sites
    – an online receipting capability for students submitting  coursework electronically to Blackboard
    – a new tool to enable the bulk upload of feedback file attachments and marks generated electronically outside of Blackboard into Grade Centre for assignments submitted online
  • Development and introduction of a print to mark capability to allow for marking of physical copies of electronically submitted assignments, prior to staff providing electronic feedback online
  • Analysis and initial development work around moving data from Assessment Scheduler to SITS
  • Analysis and options development for  the integration of Blackboard and SITS
  • Pilots and evaluation of the Safe Assign originality checking tool
  • Development and deployment of a new task clustering (bunching) report

We would like to thank everyone involved for their support and valuable contribution.

Department of Natural Built Environment’s Assessment Journey Away Day

On 14 September, the Department of Natural Built Environment held an away day with staff to focus on the task of implementing online management of assessment this academic year.

 

 

 

 

 


Luke Desforges, Head of LTA for D&S, and Jon Childs from the Assessment Journey Programme (AJP) Team presented an overview of the Policy for Summative Assessment, outlined the changes to processes and staff practice, showcased the resources available and answered questions from staff around the changes.

This was followed by two practical workshops on online submission and the provision of online feedback, before subject groups met to agree a consistent approach to online feedback. Printed resources were available for staff to take away and feedback is being used to define the support offered by the Faculty TEL Team.

Ann Franks, Head of Academic Development for the Department, said: “This was a great way to start the new academic year. Colleagues had the opportunity to learn about the changes and solutions available, and share their experiences. I would recommend this approach to other departments within the University.”

Mike Nelson, Senior Lecturer, said: “I feel much more confident about adopting online feedback after the session.”

Liane Duxbury, Senior Lecturer, said: “It was a very useful and positive experience. I felt it brought the staff team together in terms of discussing and agreeing the delivery of a much needed ‘standardised’ approach to marking and feedback.”

Need help organising something similar in your area? Please contact ! Assessment Journey Programme

 

Changes to equipment provision to support online management of assessment

The findings from our recent consultation have informed the development of a new University-wide equipment strategy to meet academic staff needs in a sustainable way, supporting the implementation of the new Policy for Summative Assessment and the work of the Assessment Journey Programme.

What you told us:

  • Academic staff place a high value on the ability to work flexibly when managing assessments and technologies that allow mobility and facilitate flexible working practices would be extremely beneficial.
  • Some academic staff are concerned about the use of display equipment for longer periods of time as they move to managing assessment online.

How are we responding?
The University is changing its Equipment Policy to facilitate mobile and flexible working and to enable staff to adopt more efficient and effective online marking and feedback methods. The following principles have now been agreed for all teaching staff on full academic contracts:

  • There will be a choice of either a desktop PC and monitor or laptop without the need for a business case
  • Laptop users will be provided with a docking station, keyboard, mouse and screen to comply with Display Screen Equipment (DSE) needs and enable use of two screens as required
  • Desktop users will be able to request a second or larger screen

In addition to this, a second strand of work will commence shortly to develop a loan service for mobile devices including iPads and other tablets.

What are the timescales for the changes?
Staff needs will start to be fulfilled at the start of academic year 2016/17 and the roll-out is expected to be complete by May 2018. Further details about sequencing and prioritisation will be made available in advance of September. Timescales for the roll-out of a loan service for mobile devices is still to be confirmed and again, further information will be published in due course.

What other support is available?
Please remember that other support is currently in place, including:

Print to Mark –  this service offered by the Print Shop will continue to be available to support staff making the transition to online management of assessment. Please read the guidance on how to use this service for full instructions.

DSE Assessments – these should be completed so that any mitigating actions can be put in place. Read about the University’s DSE Policy and training here.

How will this be financed?
Laptop and screen requests will be paid for in the IS&T budget over the next two years. The loan service for mobile devices will be made up of existing stock within the University.

How do I access further information?
If you have a question about this, please contact the Assessment Journey Programme Team in the first instance ! Assessment Journey Programme.

Equipment Survey Results

You may remember that we commissioned two surveys and a number of pilots to ascertain the equipment requirements of staff from September 2016, when the University will move to online management of assessment for levels 3, 4 and 7.

The findings from the latest survey (February 2016) are presented here.

In recent months, we have been working closely with colleagues in Information Systems & Technology (IS&T) and we are delighted to confirm that our findings have informed the development of a new University-wide equipment strategy to meet academic staff needs in a sustainable way, supporting the implementation of the new Policy for Summative Assessment and the work of the Assessment Journey Programme.

Details of the changes to the University’s Equipment Policy will be shared shortly.

Launch of FAQs

FAQs around the Assessment Journey Programme are now live and available within this blog (see the top navigation bar).  We have received feedback from faculty leads that academics now want to focus on the more ‘practical’ elements of assessment design and delivery. We have therefore compiled a bank of FAQs to help answer some of your queries.

Please use our contact form (see the top navigation bar) if you would like to raise any additional queries around the Assessment Journey Programme.

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Over 600 academics share their thoughts with us

In January we contacted academic staff asking them to fill out a survey about  marking practices and preferences.  We received a total of 600 responses, with good representation from each faculty, which will really help us with the work of the Assessment Journey Programme as it develops.

We’re currently analysing all the feedback and will be in touch with each faculty once we’ve been through all the feedback.

We’re creating more opportunities for colleagues to engage with the development of the programme and would welcome your input. We’ll be attending faculty and departmental meetings throughout May and June at which we’ll be updating you on the progress of our work and asking for your views on key areas of the programme.