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Delivering assessment during COVID-19 at scale at the Open University, UK. Staff support webinar


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Klaus-Dieter Rossade, Staff support webinar 21 September 2020

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Delivering assessment during COVID-19 at scale at the Open University, UK. Staff support webinar

  1. 1. Delivering assessment during Covid-19 at scale at the Open University, UK Klaus-Dieter Rossade Associate Dean Curriculum. Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies Director Assessment Programme, OU EADTU workshop 21 September 2020
  2. 2. CONTENTS 2 01 Where it all began 02 Assessment at the Open University, UK 03 The Challenge What we were up against, the context, the process and the decisions we took 04 Communication 05 Impact 06 People Joys and pains of working through a pandemic 2 metres ?
  3. 3. 3 Where it all began Open University Campus in Milton Keynes
  4. 4. 4 Assessment at the OU Assessment includes formative and summative components … 100,000+ directly registered students 50,000 students in partner institutions 8525 honours degrees in 2018/19 • Tutor Marked Assignments (TMA) • Exams • End of Module assessment (EMA) • End of Module Tutor Marked Assignment (emTMA) • Designated compulsory events • Day Schools • Practical Tests • Residential Schools
  5. 5. Key Players in the OU Assessment timeline Faculty academics design assessment strategies, write assignments, mark and recommend results Assessment, Credit and Qualifications (ACQ) oversee assessment policy and standards, and process all stages of the assessment life cycle Student Support in Academic Services manages information, guidance and advice Assessment Programme ensures assessment at the OU remains innovative and off a standard suitable for a university that considers itself a world leader in distance part- time education Module Result Panels (MRPs), Cluster Exams and Award Boards (CEABs), the Module Result Awards and Qualification Classification Panel (MRAQCP) ratify results External Examiners (EE) and External Advisers (EA) validate assessment standards and integrity at all stages. Markers and Students 5
  6. 6. 6 • 300+ modules in presentation, • 305,000 assessments expected to be submitted electronically • 30,000 cancelled exams • 2,900 paper submissions • Support for students with disabilities and students in secure environments The Challenge OU March and June UK context 16 March Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced all unnecessary social contact ‘should’ cease 20 March Schools go into lockdown mid March Education Secretary Gavin Williamson cancels A-Levels and GCSE exams 23 March PM Boris Johnson, people ‘must stay at home and certain business must close’ 8 April A-level and GCSE cancelled.
  7. 7. 7 Office for Students (OfS) Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) Scottish Funding Council (SFC) Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) UK Quality Code for Higher Education 1. Students should, wherever it is possible and is in the student's interest, be enabled to finish their intended studies for the current academic year. (QAA) 2. Awarding bodies remain responsible for the academic standards of their awards, including those delivered with or by partners (QAA) 3. Institutions should determine which components of assessment are necessary to determine the award of credit and should actively consider whether it can award credit where students have not completed all planned assessments. (OfS) 4. A policy of “no detriment” is likely to be appropriate, provided the institution maintains standards. (OfS) 5. Institutions must make sound judgments about the award of credit or qualification and the classification of awards, recording the approach it has taken, the factors considered and reasons for decision taken. (OfS) Regulatory and Quality Standards Context OU as a four nations university
  8. 8. 8 • First meeting 31 March, chaired by Deputy Vice Chancellor • 11 members initially, to double over time by becoming more inclusive (Student reps, Associate Lecturer reps, Comms, • Brief position papers, produced at speed • Quick turnaround from discussion to decision to communication Process Emergency Management Team Academic Implications Group (EMT-AIG) EMT-AIG aims • ratify and sense check ideas and decisions from task and finish groups. • organise any follow up and decide what is escalated to higher decision level • document key decisions and rationale and log these
  9. 9. Commitment • Deliver results for all students with assessments between March and June. • Maintain academic standards to safeguard currency of module and qualification awards • Ensure staff can deliver the pandemic decisions • Support students to succeed and continue with their studies 9
  10. 10. Principles to meet the challenge 1. A core purpose of student success 2. An institutional approach to ensure consistency and fairness 3. A principle of ‘no detriment’ to students 4. Maintaining academic standards 5. A pragmatic approach to governance approval through Chairs Action 6. Using current policy and process wherever possible to keep communication and delivery simple 7. Consideration of operational delivery in terms of capacity and capability 8. Consistency in content of communication across all modes. 10
  11. 11. Decisions - Policy, Processes and Practice 1. All exams to turn into remote exams (24 hours or 7 days) 2. Final assessed task to be cancelled where possible (up to 30th June) 3. Submission deadlines for all assignments extended 4. Postponements/deferral deadlines extended 5. Marking deadlines extended 6. Resits and resubmissions uncapped 7. Special Circumstances assumed for all students from 1 March 8. Submission of Special Circumstance without evidence 9. Viva policies extended to include Covid19 10. Greater discretionary powers for Module Result Panels and Chairs Action 11
  12. 12. Communication 1. Iterative action learning process a. from reactive to proactive b. from lagging behind reality to anticipating upcoming needs c. from messages to stakeholders to one-stop updated publication structure 2. Information cascade structures developed 3. Pandemic online briefings for academic and academic related staff 4. Monitor and manage social media impact 5. Meet regulatory, policy and commercial requirements 6. Maintain academic quality standards 12
  13. 13. Impact • Ratification of over 103,000 student module results 17th July and 31st July • Impact of cancellation, standardisation and statistical adjustments acceptable • Support and praise from External Examiner/Assessor for handling of pandemic • Strong support from students and staff • Decisions from March to June still winding through our systems and processes • Pandemic and short to medium term decision making continues • Staffing levels never lower than 75% • Lessons learned and pandemic response plan 13
  14. 14. People Pains 1. Relentless workloads 2. Difficult decisions 3. Dealing with technical 4. Social isolation across all stakeholders 14 Joys and Pains of working through a pandemic Joys 1. Online working expertise 2. Purpose to support students 3. Purpose to support staff 4. Coming together
  15. 15. THANK YOU