Friday, March 13, 2020

Don't Postpone Examinations: Replace Them With Realistic Tests

Media reports indicate that some universities are postponing examinations due to the about the COVID-19 Coronavirus. Unfortunately this emergency will not be over quickly, so this is not an effective strategy. It is technically possible to run online invigilated examinations. Athabasca University (where I studied education), uses the product ProctorU for this. However, even with a tool, the administrative burden is high. Running pass/fail oral exams via videoconferencing is also possible (I did one of these for my MEd), but these are time consuming, and stressful for the students.

The approach I suggest is to use multiple assignments, and tests (with provision to deter cheating), to determine the student's grade. If some form of supervised test is required to verify the student is not cheating, then this could be a pass/fail one, to confirm the previously established grade.

Paper based end of course examinations are not an effective form of assessment of real world skills. I suggest instead changing to other forms of assessment which realistically assess skills and knowledge. The best way to do this is to have the student carry out the tasks they are being trained to do, either in a real workplace or a simulation, and see how they do. As an example, I help train computer students in project management. This is assessed by having students work in teams on a computer project for a real client, and seeing how they do. The assessment is, in part by their peers, but mostly by staff.

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