Online Assessment Update

Published: 10 September 2020

Confirmation that the University will host all exams online during the 2020-21 academic session

Following very positive feedback from students and staff about the online exams during the April / May diet, and due to the need to be resilient in the face of the pandemic there are no plans to host exams on campus during academic session 2020-21 and therefore the University intends to continue with online assessment, including online exams.   

 The University continues to encourage a move away from high stakes assessment and the reliance on exams, particularly reliance on end of course exams where there are alternative forms of assessment that may better assess learning.  Guidance on how to do so is available on How to Moodle here.   

Where exams are the proposed method of assessment, every effort will be made to support these and to support a greater range of exam formats than we were able to do in the April / May exam diet although we would encourage Schools to continue to use well designed exam questions and the 24-hour-exam format. Concerns over server performance using Moodle Quiz functionality previously limited our options for alternative exam setups but enhancements to Moodle and to the infrastructure mean that we are now better able to support other exam formats and this approach can also be taken in relation to class tests. In addition, we will support the submission of online exams through Turnitin where this is specified by Schools as being a requirement. 

Where Schools wish to propose timed exams, they should indicate this to their Dean of Learning & Teaching at the earliest opportunity in order that we can determine the level of demand.  Registry will also be writing to Schools w/b 21st September to ask for exam information. Schools hosting class tests for more than 50 students should complete this short form to ensure appropriate helpdesk and technical support is in place.  

It remains the case that Schools will need to work closely with IT Services and other colleagues on the exam formats, set up and arrangements and online exams will need to include additional time to allow for technical challenges.  There are no plans at present for proctored exams.  The University is exploring the possibility of some small-scale proctoring in the future, but it is not expected that this would be available other than in a small number of very specific cases. 

Support for students will again be available through a 24-hour helpdesk during the exam period.  In addition, the student helpdesk will provide extended telephone and web-based support from week 8 to support online assessments and class tests. Any class tests scheduled for earlier than week 8, and notified through the reporting process outlined above, will also be supported in this way.   

We have learned a great deal over a short period of time in switching our planned on-campus exams to online for both the Spring and Summer diets in 2020. We will use this experience to develop online assessment further and will, over the coming weeks and months, work with colleagues to support the wider implementation of online assessment, reflecting our growing expectation that online assessment will become the standard approach for most courses over the longer term.

 Professor Moira Fischbacher-Smith, Vice-Principal Learning and Teaching

Professor Jill Morrison, Clerk of Senate and Vice-Principal


First published: 10 September 2020