Module 4: Designing meaningful and effective digital assessment and feedback
Landing the Concept
Debates about how to properly design assessment and feedback in digital environments are assuming an increasingly central character in Higher Education, with the increasing pervasiveness of digital technologies (particularly the Learning Management System – LMS), the rise of fully online qualifications (including trans-national education partnerships) and the disruption brought by the Covid-19 pandemic, that is added to many other situations of crisis, worldwide. There are growing concerns about integrity where face-to-face examinations might not be feasible, and opportunities and constraints for assessment design and feedback are not yet broadly understood. At the same time, critical voices in the TEL arena have argued that an increasing overreliance on anti-plagiarism software and online proctoring solutions not only creates a hostile environment, but is grounded on a lack of capacity to design assessment suitable for online spaces and may even result in new forms of discrimination and have privacy consequences (Morris and Stommel 2017, Swauger 2020).
Online environments do in fact provide rich opportunities for ongoing assessment, from the most basic quiz softwares (Socrative and Poll Everywhere, Quizizz and Kahoot ), to video-based assessments (EdPuzzle and Playposit, Flipgrid), to simulations (which are particularly relevant when considering subjects with a strong practical and face-to-face element, such as health; see Tabatai, 2020). Of particular relevance is the opportunity for students to develop digital portfolios (using personal websites built through institutional domains), not only moving towards more authentic assessment but developing the students’ capacity to critically negotiate their online presence (Nascimbeni et al. 2018).
According to Phil Race, one of the most-cited authors in this field, feedback should: be timely, be individualised, be empowering, open doors and be manageable (on both staff and students side).
Recently, debates on the framing, usefulness and appropriateness of grades & grading as a whole have also grown, with discussions about how the pandemic, having exacerbated inequalities of access and achievement, can be an opportunity to rethink our approaches (Tanenbaum & Gallagher, 2020) or to outright consider ungrading (Morris, 2021).
We invite you now to check out some content with useful tips relating to the design of assessment and how to give feedback to students:
- Reduce the risk of plagiarism in just 30 minutes! https://radar.brookes.ac.uk/radar/items/5054e26f-4345-8f93-3284-e7c7211cad97/2/
- What makes for ineffective feedback? https://feedbackforlearning.org/ineffective-feedback/
- [Optional / Bonus resource] Tips by Maha Bali on How to avoid plagiarism https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_Y4ugCXrWI
- [Optional / Bonus resources: reading on un-grading]https://www.jessestommel.com/ungrading-an-introduction/
Now that you have explored some key challenges and opportunities associated with the design of assessment and feedback in digital spaces, we invite you to engage in the following activities:
- Following the relevant guidelines established by your institution and with the aim of inspiring educators at your department, outline an example of digital assessment designed to prevent plagiarism.
- Outline a decalogue (it can be less than ten, but no more) with top tips to help educators at your institution give effective and meaningful feedback to the digital assessment you have designed in the previous exercise.
- [Optional Activity, as suggested by Jess Stommell] If you are interested in exploring ungrading, invite student representatives from your school/department to a conversation about grades: ask them how being graded makes them feel, how it affects their motivation. As a group, you can also read and discuss a piece like Alfie Kohn’s “The Case Against Grades.”
- Share your finding, reflections and difficulties with other participants in the course.
0 of 5 Questions completed
You have already completed the quiz before. Hence you can not start it again.
Quiz is loading…
You must sign in or sign up to start the quiz.
You must first complete the following:
0 of 5 Questions answered correctly
Time has elapsed
You have reached 0 of 0 point(s), (0)
Earned Point(s): 0 of 0, (0)
0 Essay(s) Pending (Possible Point(s): 0)
1. What might be linked with an overreliance on anti-plagiarism software?CorrectIncorrect
2. What are some important pedagogical benefits of students creating digital portfolios?CorrectIncorrect
3. What are the characteristics of good feedback according to Phil Race?CorrectIncorrect
4. What is a good way to reduce the risk of plagiarism?CorrectIncorrect
5. What risks make feedback ineffective?CorrectIncorrect
- Pappas, C. (2015). 6 Ways To Give Constructive Feedback In eLearning
- Morris, S.M. & Stommel, J. A (2017). Guide for Resisting Edtech: the Case against Turnitin. In Hybrid Pedagogy
- Race, P. Using feedback to help students to learn (PDF). The Higher Education Academy
- Stommel, J. (2021). Ungrading: an Introduction
- Nascimbeni, F., Villar-Onrubia, D., Wimpenny, K., & Burgos, D. (2018, June). A new approach to digital competence building for university educators in Europe. In EDEN Conference Proceedings (No. 1, pp. 242-248).
- Tabatabai, S. (2020). Simulations and virtual learning supporting clinical education during the COVID 19 pandemic. In Advances in Medical Education and Practice, 11, 513.