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Adapted forms of assessments as a result of COVID-19

  • How your assessments may change in 2020/21

The safety of our student and staff community will always be our top priority. As a result, this academic year (2020/21), the majority of assessments will take place online.

We have been working hard to develop a suite of adapted forms of assessment to ensure all students are able to fully demonstrate the knowledge and skills you have developed over the course of the year in a fair and reliable way.

For most of you, the details of assessments given in your module handbooks won’t change. We’ve already planned for the majority of assessments to be online this academic year, or to happen safely and in line with COVID-19 social distancing requirements.

For a small number of you, we’ll be making some changes to your assessments. Where this is the case, we’ll let you know the details of these changes with plenty of time for you to prepare.

  • Examples of adapted assessment types

    • Written examinations

      Written examinations on campus in most cases will have been replaced by online, time-limited open book assessment, unless a Professional Statutory Regulatory Body overseeing your programme requires otherwise.

      • An online assessment will take place off-campus
      • If you have an open book assessment, this means that you may be able to use resources prepared through the year, and your own notes, ensuring that appropriate references are provided. Exact details will be given to you by your module leader.
      • In order to ensure fairness across assessments, you’ll be given both a word limit and a window of time within which you need to complete and submit the assessment (e.g. 24 hours)
      • In addition to this, to help you know roughly how long to spend on each assessment, we’ll provide an estimate of expected completion time (e.g. 2-3 hours)
      • When planning assessments, we’ll take into consideration that students are studying across many different time zones.
    • In class presentations

      In class presentations may be replaced by online presentations

      • You’ll complete presentations online, live via Zoom or Kaltura, or may be asked to pre-record and upload to My Learning
      • We’ll ensure you have access to loaned laptops and/or space on campus to complete presentations online
    • Coursework and dissertations

      Coursework and dissertations will continue online

      • Online assessment, completed off-campus
      • No change from usual arrangements
      • In places where in person presentations may have been needed before, these will be moved to online presentations (e.g. using screencasts, Zoom or other platforms)
      • Assessment set at start of year, submitted via Turnitin by set deadline
      • Word count to be applied
      • No hard copy submissions
    • Portfolios

      Portfolios will become e-portfolios

      • Electronic portfolio of artefacts and evidence compiled and submitted via the Assignment tool or OU Blog.
      • Your academics may ask you to collate sections in one place e.g. create a Word document, insert images, tables, diagrams, video, etc.
      • Word count to be applied
      • In most cases, there will be no hard copy submissions
    • Practical assessments

      Practical assessments (e.g. lab work or studio-based assessments) may remain on campus where safe

      • Your academics will organise on-campus practical assessments
      • Data-driven lab work may still be completed with students individually or in groups using different datasets to find answers
      • Some may take place on-campus with COVID-19 safety measures and risk assessment in place – your academics and technicians will agree protocols and schedules
      • Some may take place off-campus with virtual studios, galleries and other sharing spaces being developed and e-portfolios in place on many programmes

Pride in my work

It’s critical that you use these adapted forms of assessments to demonstrate academic integrity by producing your own work, clearly acknowledging any material that has been included from other sources or through collaboration.

As always, you must also present your own findings, conclusions or data based on appropriate and ethical practice.

By demonstrating these values of honesty, fairness and respect for others and their work, you will achieve real and lasting pride in your work.

The University has developed an online course called Becoming a Successful Student to ensure you are able to do all of the above. You can find this resource by logging into MyUniHub and then going to My Learning. You will find the course under ‘My courses’. The course is designed to help you:

  • identify your strengths and areas of development
  • be aware of positive behaviours and academic expectations
  • recognise the challenges when you study and the consequences of not following university rules and regulations
  • find the support you need for your own development.

Extenuating Circumstances

There may be difficult circumstances in your life that affect your ability to meet an assessment deadline or affect your performance in an assessment. These are known as Extenuating Circumstances or ECs. Extenuating Circumstances are exceptional, unforeseen, seriously adverse and outside of your control.

To apply for Extenuating Circumstances (ECs), you must submit a completed Extenuating Circumstances Form.

For Postgraduate Taught Dissertations due in October 2020, students wanting a deferral to the next assessment period (Jan 2021) will have this automatically granted and there is no need to complete an Extenuating Circumstances Form.

You can find more details about how this process works on the Extenuating Circumstances UniHub page.

Setting up your home space for teaching and learning

There are so many resources at your fingertips to ensure you've got everything you need to successfully complete any assessments, and indeed any online learning, from home.

If you don’t think you have a suitable space at home for learning and/or completing assessments, then please reach out to your academics who will discuss how this can be improved and if necessary, will consider your circumstances when designing your adapted assessments.

Laptop Loans

If you don't have your own PC, laptop or suitable device to access the University online environment, the University will provide you with a loan laptop to help you with your teaching and assessment needs.

All laptops have full desktop software installed, printing functionality, on screen sign-in instructions and can be used on or off campus.

To borrow a laptop, simply raise a ticket with UniHelp.

Anonymous marking

In response to student feedback, we developed both an Anonymous Marking and Lecture Recording policy. You can view the Anonymous Marking Assessment Policy online, and watch our video around Anonymous Marking, by logging into MyLearning, clicking on the Help link in the top red bar, navigating to the Student Essentials area, and expanding the Turnitin section.

Anonymous marking ensures that your identity (your name, student number and other personal/identifiable information) is not made available to academics when they are marking your work.

Anonymous marking will be used for assessments that contribute to your final mark for a module (summative assessments), wherever this is possible in terms of teaching and assessment approaches and practicality.

It is important to note that there are some cases where anonymous marking is not possible or practical. In these cases, and like all other universities, we rely on moderation processes, second marking, and external examiner oversight to assure standards, impartiality, fairness and to reduce potential bias.

Lecture recording

So that you can re-visit any learning materials, most of your lectures and taught sessions will be recorded to support self-paced learning. Some sessions however may not be appropriate to record such as those where personal information might be disclosed such as during personal tutoring, tutorials, and sessions where discussion activity might involve the sharing of personal experience

Any recorded content will be uploaded to My Learning so that you are easily able to access it.

Your academics will notify you at the beginning of a session if they are going to record and ensure you are OK with being recorded – if you do not wish to appear on the recording or have your voice heard, you should let them know at this point.

We recommend that you utilise lecture recordings as a resource to review content covered within your modules.

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