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Digital Education team blog


Ideas and reflections from UCL's Digital Education team


Archive for the 'e-Assessment' Category

The Assessment Matrix Resurrected

By Claudia Cox, on 31 October 2023

Credit: Tobias_ET, 2017.

The Digital Assessment Team are pleased to announce a new version of the Assessment Matrix tool, which replaces and expands on a comparison table of the main technologies used for assignments at UCL.

Overview of the Matrix

The Assessment Matrix tool is aimed at helping users in the process of designing assessments decide which platform is best suited for delivery. In addition to providing a quick, visual guide of what different platforms can offer online, users can also download an offline, interactive version of this resource and filter assessment options based on their submission, marking and feedback, and administrative needs.

View the Assessment Matrix.

The tool is expected to be relevant to both academics and administrative staff. It will serve as a valuable starting point for discussions that occur after assessments have been aligned with learning outcomes but before they have been fully developed and designed, and before the platform to be used has been finalised. The decision on which platform should be used will also need to consider faculty approach, tools used for formative assessment and other factors.

The new version contains information on the following platforms:

  • Moodle assignment
  • Turnitin Assigment (in Moodle)
  • Wiseflow – the UCL AssessmentUCL digital assessment platform [NEW]
  • Reflect – the UCL version of the WordPress blogging service [NEW]
  • MyPortfolio – the UCL version of the Mahara eportfolio platform
  • Crowdmark – an assessment tool currently used by the maths department [NEW]

The matrix covers assessment submission options (such as type of formats that can be submitted, if group work is possible and text editor options), marking (such as if double or blind marking are available, audio feedback options and inline annotation) and feedback and administrative settings (such reporting, export of content and is it integrated with SITs).

A screenshot of the updated assessment matrix


Initial feedback on the Assessment Matrix highlighted the importance of testing resources to ensure they meet accessibility requirements. Originally this was intended to have a ‘traffic light’ design to indicate whether tools met users’ needs for assessment, however due to the limited cell colour range available on the Confluence wiki this would not have met WCAG 2.2.

Using staff recommended tools such as COBLIS and TPGi’s Colour Contrast Analyser are great ways to help ensure that any resources and materials are WCAG compliant and allowed us to find a colour scheme that works for a broader audience of users.


Digital Assessment Team has been cautious about overloading the matrix to prevent overwhelming its users. However, they are eager to ensure that the matrix remains as user-friendly as possible. If you spot anything that needs updating or editing please contact the Digital Assessment Team (assessment-advisory@ucl.ac.uk).

If you wish to discuss your assessment approach in more detail refer to the education support contacts in your faculty and department.

Important Update: STACK upgrade and its impact on existing questions

By Aurelie, on 19 July 2023

The STACK Moodle plugin is getting an upgrade!

What is STACK?
STACK is a powerful system for creating and managing online assessments in mathematics, science, and related disciplines. It’s integrated into our Moodle platform, providing a seamless experience for creating complex, auto-graded questions.

The new version, STACK 4.4, was initially released in July 2022 and is now being implemented in our Moodle platform on Tuesday 25th July. This major update focuses on enhancing the performance and overcoming limitations of the previous systems, particularly in the Potential Response Tree (PRT) and Computer Algebra System Text (CASText) systems.

However, it’s important to note that the new version of STACK has become more stringent in terms of logic and syntax. As a result, certain questions may not function as they did before. This is due to the enhanced logic/syntax checks incorporated in the new version, aimed at improving the accuracy and consistency of STACK assessments.

We have conducted tests and identified the questions that may be affected by this change. These are listed in a report on our wiki (you need to be logged in with your UCL account to view the report). We understand that this may require adjustments to your current questions and apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.
We recommend reviewing and updating your questions as necessary to ensure they function correctly after the upgrade.

To help you navigate these changes, you can review the list of key issues that might arise and their solutions in the Release Notes.

As always, we’re here to support you during this transition. If you have any questions or need assistance, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the Digital Education team.

Thank you for your understanding and cooperation as we work to improve our Moodle platform and assessment tools.

Managing mark release during the marking and assessment boycott

By Marieke Guy and Zaman Wong, on 13 June 2023

This post gives useful information for admin staff on how to manage mark release and mark upload during the Marking and Assessment boycott.

Using AssessmentUCL/Wiseflow

Step 1: Identifying students who have and have not been marked

1.1 Identify students who have been given a final grade:

Students that have been marked and given a final grade can be identified by Administrators (under the Manager role) by downloading the ‘grade export’ report (image below).

  • Student details (candidate number, student ID, names – these columns can be hidden/shown as desired)
  • Students that have submitted / not submitted
  • Students that have been given a final grade (if blank – no grade has been agreed, but marking may have taken place – please see section 1.2)

Guidance to download report.


1.2 Identify students that have been (by a first or second marker) but not been given a final grade

Administrators should add themselves as Reviewers on their assessments, which will allow them to download a grade sheet which will display a list of candidates and any marks that have submitted by individual markers (including the name of the marker). If you have issues with adding yourself as a Reviewer, please submit a staff query form to request access.

Once you have opened the assessment in the Reviewing tab, you should select the Offline marking option and follow the steps to export the grade sheet:offline marking

The downloaded grade sheet will show you a list of candidates and any marks that have been submitted by first or second markers (highlighted in red in image below):


Please note that if the Grade column is empty, this means that no grades have been finalised and a Reviewer will need to submit a finalised grade for students that have been marked (this will allow administrators to complete the grade export to Portico in Step 3).


Step 2: Allow students without grades/feedback to be marked after the original marking deadline has concluded:

Student grades and feedback are released on the platform under two conditions; once the marking end date has arrived, and the ‘Show final grades’ option has been enabled.

To allow remaining students to be marked, there are two methods (option b is preferable but may be time consuming if dealing with a large no. of students that have yet to be marked):

  1. a) Administrator / Manager can extend the overall marking end date for all students (to allow for further marking to take place). Caveat: this will mean that students who already have a final grade will not be able to view this on the platform, until the extended marking end date has arrived).

Guidance to Extend overall marking end-date.

  1. b) Administrator / Manager can extend the individual marking end dates for only those students who have not yet been marked (this will mean students that have already been marked will be able to see their final grades on the platform, while allowing markers continue further marking for those that have not been marked).

Guidance to extend individual marking end dates.

Step 3. Grade export to Portico

It is recommended to do this once (when there is a full set of grades), however the grade export button can be pushed more than once (Caveat: if administrator pushes the grade export more than once, you may encounter a ‘Fail’ message for students where their grades were previously exported – this error message can be ignored for those students).

Guidance to complete grade export to Portico.

Using Moodle

Student identities for Moodle assignments and Turnitin assignments cannot be revealed and then hidden again.  Each activity type has a different process to acheive this, which is detailed in our Partial mark entry miniguide.

If you have any queries, please contact the Digital Education team with the assignment title and url at:

UCL and Jisc event: Reimagining Assessment and Feedback

By Marieke Guy, on 6 June 2023

Earlier this week UCL hosted a one-day event entitled Reimagining Assessment and Feedback, the second in a series of Jisc events on Demonstrating digital transformation.  The event was held in Bentham house, the main building for the UCL Faculty of Laws. The purpose these events is to share best practice from universities who have made significant advances in developing innovative approaches to taking forward their digital agenda. As with the Jisc framework for digital transformation, the events are designed to showcase and highlight the broad spectrum of activity needed across an institution to effectively support and implement a digital culture.

The event organising team , Simon Birkett (Jisc), Peter Phillips (UCL) and Sandra Lusk (UCL)

The event organising team , Simon Birkett (Jisc), Peter Phillips (UCL) and Sandra Lusk (UCL)

The event gave the 50+ delegates the opportunity hear how UCL has evolved its assessment and feedback practices and processes and the role technology plays. Here at UCL we have been at the forefront of the shift to digital assessment and have successfully implemented a digital assessment platform for all centrally managed assessments taken remotely. To achieve this we have needed to address other challenges including assessment design, consistency across programmes, regulations and policy, and enhanced support for professional development.

Opening plenary

The event was opened by Pro-Vice-Provost Education (Student Academic Engagement) Kathryn Woods who talked a little about our wider institutional change programme including the UCL strategic plan 2022-27 consultation and Education framework.

Simon Walker presents

Simon Walker presents on assessment at UCL

Professor Simon Walker (previously Director of Programme Development, UCL, now an educational consultant) and I provided an overview of the UCL assessment journey. We discussed the implementation of Wiseflow/AssessmentUCL and the subsequent challenges we have faced regarding AI and academic integrity. Although we haven’t resolved all the problems, we have encountered numerous challenges and have an valuable story to share. You can see our slides below.

Breakout groups

There were  two sets of breakout group sessions on core themes with lunch slotted in between. Each session featured a UCL facilitator to give an opening introduction, a Jisc scribe to lead the related Padlet board and a UCL student to give the student perspective.

Demonstrating digital transformation – assessment futures

This session considered the potential future of assessment in Higher education. Participants looked at areas including AI, assessment technology and new ideas and ways of working in assessment. The group discussed a whole range of challenges from limited understanding of AI technology and capacity constraints, to AI false alerts, digital inequality,  and ethical considerations. The solutions include student co-design, emphasis on assessment design, oral evaluations and better use of AI for formative assessments.

Demonstrating digital transformation – Academic integrity

Discussions in the academic integrity session

Discussions in the academic integrity session

This session considered ways to ensure academic integrity is maintained across the institution through design, education and detection. It considered how policy and regulations need to change in the light of new challenges that technology brings. Much of the discussion covered current practices such as the use of AI proctoring for remote assessments, efforts to establish clear assessment requirements, and conducting fair assessment misconduct panels. The challenges include terminology clarification, legal concerns surrounding AI usage and the implications of more diverse assessment formats on identifying misconduct. Some of the effective strategies identified were additional training for students during the transition into higher education, varied assessment formats, technical approaches such as random question allocation and limited time allocation, and less punitive approaches to academic integrity such as hand holding through academic practice and referencing requirements.

Demonstrating digital transformation – Institutional change

Kathryn Woods

Kathryn Woods facilitates the breakout session on managing institutional change

This session considered how institutions manage change and encourage new academic practices. The group looked at areas including framing of change and the balance between cultural and technological change. Some of the main challenges explored were around large cohorts, diverse student body, the digital skills of academic staff and general change fatigue. Some successful practices highlighted were feedback from externals and industry experts, personalised feedback at scale, external engagement for formative feedback and audio feedback. The support needed to enable this includes includes surfacing assessment and feedback technologies, integrating professional services into curriculum development teams, and providing timely tech and pedagogic support for staff.

Demonstrating digital transformation -Pedagogy and assessment design

This session considered the full assessment design process and focal points and drivers for different staff involved in making changes. The group looked at areas including what contemporary assessment design looks like: authentic, for social justice, reusable etc. Interesting  practice includes assessment processes that focus on the production and process of assessment, the use of student portfolios for employability, co-designing assessments with employers and utilising creative and authentic assessments with tools like Adobe Creative Suite. The main challenges might be the impact of high-stakes assessment and grades on students, clarifying what is actually being assessed, aligning institutional priorities with assessment innovation and supporting group work assessments. Future support needed could involve utilising the Postgraduate Certificate (PG Cert) program to address assessment and curriculum design with technology and digital skills.

Demonstrating digital transformation -Larger cohorts and workloads

This session considered how you assess large cohorts in highly modularised programmes with large student cohorts from different disciplines. It looked at areas including workload models, interdisciplinary assessment, integrated assessment. There are already examples of interdisciplinary group work, using contribution marks to evaluate individual efforts in group work, implementing peer assessment, utilizing multiple-choice questions (MCQs), and employing marking teams for large cohorts. However these face challenges including PSRB accreditation processes, modularisation of assessments, over-assessment and duplication and scaling alternative assessment practices. One of the best approaches identified is programme-level assessment strategies and embracing the principle of “less is more” by focusing on quality rather than quantity.

Demonstrating digital transformation – Strategic direction

This session considered how you respond to the drivers of change and go about a co-design process across an institution by looking at environmental scanning, involving stakeholders, styles of leadership. The challenges identified involve ensuring continuity while managing future aspirations, considering student demographics and adopting an agile approach to strategy development. Clear communication about assessment and being agile in strategic thinking were identified as practices that work well. The support needed includes access to assessment platforms and curriculum mapping software, partnership support from industry organisations, and collaboration with Jisc and UCISA to advocate for change across the sector.

Panel session

The afternoon panel session on assessment, chaired by Sarah Knight, Head of learning and teaching transformation at Jisc featured a diverse group of experts representing academia and student engagement who all provided valuable insights.

Panel session

Panel session: Mary McHarg, Dr Irene Ctori, Professor Sam Smidt, Dr Ailsa Crum, Marieke Guy, and Sarah Knight

  • Professor Sam Smidt, the Academic Director of King’s Academy, KCL;
  • Dr Irene Ctori, Associate Dean of Education Quality and Student Experience at City, University of London;
  • Mary McHarg, SU Activities and Engagement Sabbatical Officer at UCL;
  • Dr Ailsa Crum, Director of Membership, Quality Enhancement and Standards at QAA;
  • Marieke Guy, Head of Digital Assessment at UCL

Each panellist introduced themselves, explained their roles and organisations, and outlined their current work on assessment. They then shared their key takeaways from the discussions and presentations of the day. These included the need to work together collaboratively as a sector and to look at more fundamental, areas such as curriculum design, as places where change could originate. Some also noted the absence of discussion around feedback, interesting given that NSS scores are very dependent on successful approaches here. The panel addressed important questions, including how higher education providers can better support students’ assessment literacy, ways universities can enable staff to effectively use technology for assessment and feedback, methods to engage in dialogue with PSRBs regarding technology in assessments, and predictions for the future of assessment methods in five years’ time. One of the most interesting questions thrown at the panel was what they would do to assessment if they had a magic want, much of the focus was on the current grading model and other areas such of potential such as improving assessment for students with adjustments by adding in optionality and better support.

The day concluded with an overview of the support available from Jisc provided by Simon Birkett, Senior Consultant (see slides). Tweets from the day can be accessed using the #HEdigitaltx tag. Many of the attendees were then treated to a bespoke UCL tour led by Steve Rowett, Head of the Digital Education Futures team. The highlight for many is Jeremy Bentham’s auto-icon.

It was great to bring together those working in strategic change across UK Higher Education in the area of assessment and feedback.  Clearly there is much work to be done but a sector-wide understanding and appreciation of the difficulties faced, and a unified approach to ensuring quality of student experience and learning benefit can only be a good thing.

This article is reposted from the Digital Assessment Team blog.

Panel members

Panel members

Generative AI: Lifeline for students or threat to traditional assessment?

By Marieke Guy, on 21 April 2023

Our increasingly complex world has made the potential impact of artificial intelligence on education more relevant than ever. Gone are the days when AI’s role in academic assessment required extensive explanation; it has become embedded in our daily lives. This shift has caused a wave of concern in Higher Education as traditional assessment practices risk becoming obsolete.

This post is a version of a one that appears on the National Centre for AI blog. It was reframed using Chat-GPT4.

In March, Russell Group university leaders convened to discuss the impact of AI on education and the implications for the sector. The event, chaired by Kathy Armour, Vice-Provost (Education & Student Experience) at UCL, featured a panel of students from various disciplines, sharing their experiences and insights on how AI tools, such as ChatGPT, have transformed their approach to learning.

Student panel on AI and assessment facilitated by Chris Thomson, Jisc. The panel summary was provided by Kathy Armour, Vice-Provost (Education & Student Experience) at UCL

Student panel on AI and assessment facilitated by Chris Thomson, Jisc. The panel summary was provided by Kathy Armour, Vice-Provost (Education & Student Experience) at UCL

The students’ accounts made it clear that the genie is out of the bottle; AI is now so deeply integrated into their learning experience that it would be futile and dangerous to resist the change. For many, AI has become a “lifechanging” educational companion, offering a level of support that is impossible to ignore. As such, the students argued, returning to traditional exam halls or engaging in an AI detection arms race would be detrimental to their future employability and wellbeing.

It is evident that a collaborative approach between students and educational leaders is necessary to navigate this brave new world.

Prior to the event the students contributed to the drafting of a set of future-proof principles related to AI and assessment, addressing concerns such as relevance, literacy, rigour, transparency, fairness, and human-centred education.

Working with the students to co-design the AI and assessment principles

Working with the students to co-design the AI and assessment principles

The students expressed a desire for their education to prepare them for the wider world and the future workplace, necessitating the adoption of AI in learning, teaching, and assessment. Additionally, students and staff must be supported in developing academic skills in relation to AI, ensuring that learning and development opportunities are not missed. The students pointed to friends who were already creating AI-based start-ups.

Transparency and fairness are crucial when AI tools are used in assessment and marking. Students are particularly concerned about the potential for a widening gap between those who can afford AI tools and those who cannot. This raises the question of whether universities should provide paid-for versions of AI tools as part of their standard IT provision.

Moreover, learning, teaching, and assessment must remain human-centred. AI should enhance, not replace, relationships between students and educators, and AI interactions should promote a pedagogy of care. If students rely on AI to bypass required academic work, it is essential to ask why and provide additional support as needed.

This thought-provoking event demonstrated the importance of engaging in open dialogue with students about the role of AI in education and assessment. As Kathy Armour noted, the challenges posed by AI and assessment are not new; they are rooted in longstanding issues of assessment and curriculum design that continue to challenge the sector. Embracing the potential of AI in education can offer a lifeline to students, but it requires a delicate balance between technological innovation and maintaining the integrity of traditional learning experiences. By working together, students and educators can create a path forward that incorporates AI in a way that benefits all.

The event also featured visionary case-studies from sector-experts on AI: Sue Attewell, Head of edtech and lead at Jisc’s national Centre for AI in tertiary education, Professor Mike Sharples from the Institute of Educational Technology at the Open University and Michael Veale, Associate Professor and Deputy Vice Dean (Education) in the Faculty of Laws at UCL.

Draft principles

Draft principles

Thanks go to those involved in this work:


  • Matthew Banner – Postgraduate in the third year of a PhD in Biochemical Engineering, leading on a student-led partnership project considering assessment design and AI.
  • Sophie Bush – Undergraduate student on History and the Philosophy of Science BSc and lead course rep for Science and Technology studies.
  • Megan Fisher – Second-year undergraduate student studying Economics, with chosen modules in Environmental Economics and Algebra.
  • Rachel Lam – First-year undergraduate law student, serves as a student partner on the assessment design and quality review team.
  • Jennifer Seon – In last year of my part-time master’s programme studying Education and Technology, dissertation will focus on collaborative problem-solving in assessment. Recently interviewed AI expert Wayne Holmes for a podcast with the UCL AI Society.
  • Bernice Yeo – Postgraduate student taking the MA in Education and Technology. Works as an examiner for the International Baccalaureate.
  • Sopio Zhgenti – Postgraduate student studying Education and Technology at the Institute of Education with special interest in Artificial Intelligence.


  • Marieke Guy (Head of Digital Assessment), UCL
  • Zak Liddell (Director of Education & Student Experience, MAPS), UCL
  • Joanne Moles (Head of Assessment Delivery and Platforms), UCL
  • Jennifer Griffiths (Associate Director in the UCL Arena Centre for Research-based Education), UCL
  • Lizzie Vinton (Assessment Regulations and Governance Manager, Academic Services) , UCL
  • Chris Thomson (Programme lead for teaching, learning and assessment), Jisc

Support for AUCL assessments

By Marieke Guy, on 1 February 2023

The Digital Assessment Team have updated the support processes for users of the AssessmentUCL (Wiseflow) platform. The new support process are outlined on the following pages:

  • Staff support during an AssessmentUCL assessment – This page includes a link to the staff query form which asks for additional information on the assessment and module affected. This information will help the Digital Assessment Team and the Digital Education Support Analysts (DESAs) with diagnosing and rectifying issues quicker.
  • Student support during your assessment – This page includes a link to the Assessment Query Form, which is used by students for any technical failures that happen during an assessment.

The increased use of online support forms is to ensure quicker support during peak assessment periods and avoid direct communication with individual members of staff, which can cause bottlenecks. Departments or modules interested in assessment redesign and use of the AssessmentUCL platform should initially consult the recommendations for readiness guidance and identify if their assessment approach is suitable for the platform. If they wish to continue the discussion, they can email assessment-advisory@ucl.ac.uk to organise a meeting with a Digital Assessment Advisor.

Assessment process

The team will be developing a series of AssessmentUCL ‘Blueprints’ over the forthcoming months. These will offer a clear path in using the AssessmentUCL platform for particular assessment approaches (e.g.  for fully automatically marked Multiple Choice Questionnaire (MCQ), or for blind-marking). They are intended as a mechanism to enable staff to better self-support, and use functionality that has been fully tried, tested and documented.

The AssessmentUCL Resource centre continues to be updated with additional guidance and videos. The team also run regular training sessions.