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University of London

Analysis of students’ experiences of online assessment

The brief

Some 38,000 University of London (UoL) students were scheduled to sit approximately 110,000 unseen, fixed-time examinations in May/June 2020, in examination centres across the globe. The COVID-19 pandemic made that impossible and, at very short notice, alternative forms of summative assessment were developed across these programmes. The University commissioned an evaluation project to explore the student experience of this change to online assessment. This research sought to inform future decision-making and approaches to assessment.

The approach

Shift analysed over 8,000 responses to a survey disseminated by UoL. This included exploration of communications in the lead-up to assessments, experiences of the assessment, as well as potential concerns related to cheating and data-handling.

Students’ perceptions of online assessment and their openness to an online approach in the future were explored by a number of demographic factors, including gender, age, location and any reported special access requirements. Detailed code frames were developed for open-response questions, to provide qualitative insight to ensure students’ voices were heard.

The value

The project was highly collaborative from kick-off to final deliverables. An in-depth report was developed, providing insights to student online experience at a macro and micro level. Results were discussed in detail with the project team, allowing for new avenues of analysis to be explored and hypotheses to be tested. 21 data sheets were developed to provide an in-depth overview of results at a programme and university level. Q Reader software was also provided to allow UoL the flexibility to continue analysis long-term.