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Assessment hackathon event – Collaboratively exploring the digital assessment challenge  

Anisa Patel28 March 2022

“In a digital era, how can we design assessments differently and better?” 

This is the question that a group of more than 35 key partners in UCL’s teaching and assessment community gathered to consider last week. Hosted jointly by ARENA and Digital Education, the group comprised academics, students, the Digital Assessment team, Faculty Learning Technologists, professional services staff and representatives from UNIwise (suppliers of our digital assessment platform, AssessmentUCL).  

Attendees were split into teams of mixed disciplines to share their experience of assessment at UCL and bring forward ideas and recommendations on how digital assessments could look in the future. 

The breadth of representation made for a rich and varied discussion and enabled each partner to express their principle areas of focus: 

  • From our student representatives we heard a genuine desire both for continued improvement enabled through assessment feedback not just marks and for assessments to test modern-day marketplace skills (e.g. distilling information, writing reports).   
  • Our academic representatives expressed their overarching concern to do the right thing by our students: seeking to understand and share methods and tools for designing assessments to help students in future life.
  • Our Digital Assessment team focussed on ways to build and share capabilities within faculties enabling us to connect academics, students and technologists and ways to understand and share how technology can support innovative assessment design both now and in the future.  
  • Like our students, our Faculty Learning Technologists focussed on the importance of feedback (or “feedforward”) which is easily accessible, timely and meaningful: enabling students to act upon it.  
  • Our Professional Services representatives focused on how to connect people to ensure that fantastic work around assessment design is shared widely and to ensure that academics and faculty teams are all aware of the tools and supporting resources available to them. 
  • Our UNIwise representatives were interested in all points raised: keen to consider how future enhancements to the AssessmentUCL platform might facilitate the continued evolvement of digital assessment. 

Group discussions were wide ranging and often raised more questions than answers but surfaced a clear desire to continue the conversations about the issues raised and to focus on how we share knowledge to maximise the depth of expertise in assessment design across departments. 

Next steps 

As a result of the discussion, Arena and the Digital Assessment team will focus their attention on the following key themes over the coming months:  

  1. Enabling assessment design knowledge sharing: Helping academics and others involved in assessment design to understand what is possible and how to achieve it. Ensuring clear information channels and networks are established to enable academics and others involved in assessment design to share experience and learn from the experience of others as well as raising awareness of existing resources and support.  
  2. Continuing to improve the markers journey: Exploring how to enable flexibility in marking where one may allocate all work to all markers and each takes one off the top of the pile and can go to the next unmarked (or not yet started to mark script), to ensure that there is no loss of marks when marking allocations change pre/post marking. 
  3. Continuing the conversation: Building on the foundations and links established during this event, we plan to set up a learning lab through which staff and students can continue the discussion around how we can design digital assessments differently and better using existing mechanisms like the Chart tool, as well as rethinking how assessments are delivered currently to make them more applicable to real-world situtations and careers.
  4. Working collaboratively with suppliers and academic colleagues to shape enhancements / design solutions to particular issues: We hope to connect key members in Departments with our suppliers Uniwise to workshop and work through desirability and current system functionalities.

If you would like to join events like this in the future, please let us know by contacting assessments@ucl.ac.uk.