CEE Assessment@JCU Alternative Assessment

Designing Alternative Assessment

Click on flowchart to enlarge.

Flowchart for alternative assessment methods

The following section provides some possible alternative assessment methods, together with some important considerations for integrity and assurance of learning outcomes.

Alternatives to invigilated exams

A non-editable take home exam script is released to students on the LearnJCU subject site at a scheduled date and time. Students answer the take home exam questions in the format indicated in the exam instructions, and upload their answer document (ie word, photos) via the relevant safe assignment drop box on the LearnJCU subject site prior to the submission deadline.

Guidelines for take home exams (PDF, 133 KB)

Creating a take home exam (PDF, 706 KB)

Take home exam design considerations (PDF, 146 KB)

Test design can use question banks and include a set number of random questions in a pool.

Options to use a timer and automated submission at the end of test (answers are saved for each question).

Question types: true/false, MCQ, matching, fill in the blank, short answer/essay, calculated formula (Blackboard help for tests, pools and question banks).

Automatic marking applies to all question formats except essay, therefore results are available to students upon submission (include a ‘Enter your full name’ essay question to control the timing of the release of test scores).

Matching questions: each answer must be unique.  If sentence starters need to be sorted to two different classifications this question format is not suitable.

MCQs: Can have more than one correct answer; include unlimited answer options and be scored all or nothing or partial credit (when  >1 option is correct).

Tests can be used as part of unfolding assessments.

Video: creating an unfolding assessment in Learn Ultra.

These forms of assessment enable exploration of students’ applied problem-solving skills or probing of the depth of students’ knowledge, may reflect real-world authenticity, may better cater for varied student needs (i.e. multi-modality assessment) and contribute to enhanced academic integrity as the oral component is invigilated.

A multi-method assessment, for example, could include a written method (individual or group) and an oral assessment method (individual) where a student is required to defend their written answers or demonstrate in-depth reasoning skills.

Resources for oral assessment

Using conditional availability in LearnJCU, tests can be broken into sections using rules to release sections in a specific order at defined times, by student score or by completion of previous section.

Video: Creating an unfolding assessment in Learn Ultra.

The chosen assessment method must be capable of measuring the intended learning outcomes not already measured in the subject. Design your questions and overall exam paper with the learning outcomes in mind i.e. what skills and knowledge are you assessing?

In these alternatives to time-limited unseen invigilated exams or tests, students will have access to class notes, textbooks and the internet. Therefore the design of questions is very important to ensure the integrity of the assessment. Questions should aim to assess the interpretation and application of knowledge, comprehension skills, and critical thinking skills rather than knowledge recall.

Open book assessments carry an increased risk of unauthorised collaboration (collusion) between students. Carefully designed exam questions can reduce the risk of academic misconduct. For example, tasks or questions should not have only one correct answer. Use questions that require students to answer in more critical and analytical ways thus encouraging high-order thinking skills.

Assessments submitted through SafeAssign in LearnJCU can utilise the text-matching system to help identify plagiarism.

Additionally, open book assessments also provide an opportunity to actively test students’ ability to source and use information correctly.

Please request learning design support for assistance with developing suitable questions.

See Open Book Examinations (PDF) by K.P. Mohanan for more information on take-home exams.

In-class participation

Graded Discussion Boards

Discussion boards are valuable in the design of assessment-as-learning as they engage students actively in discussion. You can assign discussion grades in a forum or thread. You can assign grades based on student participation, on the quality of their posts, or a combination of the two.

You can create rubrics in advance and use them while grading forums and threads.

See an example of a discussion board rubric.

Collaborate Subject Rooms

Participation in small group tutorials/workshops can be assessed/recorded via Collaborate in much the same way as face-to-face tutorial groups.

See further information on online group work.

You may want to consider dropping a participation assessment completely.

Sometimes, low-stakes assessment of tutorial participation (e.g. 10%) may be included to encourage students to attend and engage in the learning activities in the face-to-face class rather than as a core measure of achievement of the learning outcomes. In those situations, the assessment may be dropped.

Students should only be required to all post to the same discussion or respond to others’ posts where there is the potential for them to provide unique perspectives or make different contributions.

Considerations should be available for students who experience technology or connectivity failures.

Laboratory based learning

It may be possible to replicate some aspects of lab work through simulations in which students are presented with data sets and required to interpret them. Often this means focusing on interpretation of data rather than working in the lab to achieve the results personally.

  • Simulations can also be used remotely (videoed) so students can ‘see’ data produced elsewhere and be asked to comment/interpret.
  • Use video for demonstration of skill by lecturer and/or assessment of students performing the skill.
  • Students can submit their video via LearnJCU or an unlisted YouTube channel.

Providing students with different data sets for personal interpretation may mitigate the risk of collusion.

Objective Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCE)
Including tests requiring students to demonstrate skills

Consider requiring students to submit digital portfolios containing, for example, videos of themselves performing a range of practical tasks.

Where OSCEs can be converted to scenarios and/or digital artefacts, an unfolding assessment using conditional availability, an interview with a random allocation of scenario or artefact might be possible. Students could be provided with their scenario, given a short time to prepare, then asked to respond via Collaborate. Multiple rooms can be generated for simultaneous demonstrations. Follow up with a student reflective task.

OSCEs may be problematic due to accreditation requirements and may need to be delayed.

Group work

As with face-to-face group work, scaffolding for online learning will be necessary for successful development of online communities.

Take a look at the following sections for online group work at JCU

Alternatives to field work and work integrated learning

In most cases, field work and WIL will need to be delayed.

At introductory levels, it might be possible for students to respond to scenarios or videos. Depending on the discipline, video material might be created by discipline experts modelling behaviours, or sourced from existing observations, online sources or possibly excerpts from movies or television shows. Please ensure copyright provisions are met.

The Australian Collaborative Education Network Limited (ACEN) has information about alternatives to Work Integrated Learning.

Any variations to mandatory field work or WIL will need to be determined in collaboration with industry partners and/or accrediting bodies.

Self and peer assessment

Self and Peer Assessments can help distribute the workload and ensure that students receive feedback from several individuals. Students also benefit from the analytical experience of evaluating submissions against defined criteria.

Take a look at the following sections for online group work at JCU


Books available in library

Bearman, M., Dawson, P., Ajjawi, A., tai, J., & Boud, D. (2020). Re-imagining university assessment in a digital world. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/jcu/detail.action?docID=6273290

Dawson, P. (2020). Defending assessment security in a digital world. Retrieved from https://www-taylorfrancis-com.elibrary.jcu.edu.au/books/9780429324178

Other resources:

Dawson, P. (2020). Strategies for using online invigilated exams.  Retrieved from https://www.teqsa.gov.au/sites/default/files/strategies-for-using-online-invigilated-exams.pdf?v=1603758032