Student assessment changes due to Covid-19 could be an opportunity

Niall Briody

Following an announcement from the Vice President for Academic Affairs in DCU, Professor Eithne Guilfoyle, all final examinations planned in May for first and second year students have been cancelled. Instead, there is now an onus on lecturers to design alternative assessments for students, to replace these exams.

While of course this is disruptive for students, many of whom have been studying for final exams for their modules since January and in some cases last September, it also compels us to assess the effectiveness of final examinations overall.

Some lecturers in DCU have already been forced to move planned in-class tests to online tests in certain modules using Loop, DCU’s online learning platform.

The debate between final examinations versus continuous assessments, including assignments and interactive coursework, is longstanding and divisive amongst students, in terms of which method is more effective as both have distinct benefits.

According to an article published in the Active Learning in Higher Education Journal in 2017, continuous e-assessments can lead to increased student engagement, in comparison to more traditional assessment methods. The findings are significant and shed light on the necessity of a paradigm shift, in the traditional methods of assessment.

The more engaged students are with modules, the more satisfied they are going to be during their time in university. The findings are also encouraging for lecturers, some of whom may be sceptical of the effectiveness of online assessments, for the engagement of students with a module.

The repercussions of this unprecedented predicament that we find ourselves in are seismic. However, this does not necessarily mean that it will be detrimental to students’ learning experience, in university. If anything, perhaps we should try to view the redesigning of module assessments, as an exciting opportunity to improve students’ learning experience in university.

Niall Briody

Image: Flickr