During the time of the peak pandemic, most schools and colleges shifted either to the online mode of education or hybrid mode (both online and offline mode). It raises the need for taking remote assessments of the students. But how can teachers ensure that online tests are conducted with full transparency and the students do not resort to unfair means? Educational institutions need to learn the strategies of a successful remote assessment.
What Should Teachers Focus on for Taking Remote Assessments Successfully?
Post the pandemic, remote tests are the next big thing. Teachers and students sync to answer problems that are otherwise difficult to answer previously. More on it is down below.
Continuously Monitoring the Students
While taking tests in the physical classroom, it is easier for the teacher to spot if any student is resorting to unfair means. (Even without careful monitoring). But in online mode, it is more difficult to notice the actions of every single student. So teachers have to make a conscious effort to individually monitor the students.
Teachers can distribute digital student performance evaluation forms to the students. These forms should contain questions that help the teacher gain perspective on various aspects of their student’s performance and what each of their learning needs is. This strategy will fill all the communication gaps that otherwise occur in the online mode of education.
Directly Communicating With the Students
Are your students equipped enough to appear for online tests? Do they have the means to successfully give remote assessments? As a teacher, you can either take direct feedback from the students on these matters or send them survey forms.
Platforms like online form builders or survey templates can create such survey forms. In the survey, there can be questions about the learning environment. Do the students have access to a fast internet connection and a computer?
Are they aware of all the functionalities of Zoom or Microsoft Teams or whichever platform they have to use to appear for a test? Asking all these questions to the students and solving whatever doubts or queries they might have or providing them with the facilities they lack will help in conducting remote assessments successfully.
Create Assessments for Specific Goals
Assessing the performance and capability of a student is very broad and subjective. There cannot be a one size fits all objective assessment method based on which all students can be accurately assessed via the online mode. Every student has to be tested for different criteria like skill level, knowledge level, learning capability, etc.
For instance, you might need to assess the English speaking skills of a student. Now it is easier to judge a student’s fluency during face-to-face interaction in offline mode. But in an online assessment, internet connection issues might occur, and teachers might need to apply a different strategy. For instance, providing every student English level assessment forms.
It will also give a fair idea about the English comprehension abilities of the students. It will help them plan tasks and assignments accordingly. Customizable digital form templates can help in collecting and consolidating such information effectively.
Teach Students To Self-Assess
In the online mode of assessment, the best way of assessing students has to be self-assessment. Online tests leave a lot of scopes for students to cheat. But if the students are left to self-assess, they would focus on taking the test honestly and get an idea of their actual performance because the scope for judgment is less in self-assessment.
Also, teachers already have a lot on their plate, and delegating this aspect will save them a lot of time. The online education mode requires students to be more self-dependent in terms of attending scheduled online classes, reaching out to teachers and counselors when needed, completing projects and assignments on deadlines as per scheduled on the platforms, etc. So providing self-assessment tools to students so that they can monitor their capabilities further adds to this self-dependence.
Try To Incorporate More One-on-One Assessments
Online assessments and the online mode of education, in general, can create a disconnect between the students and the teacher. Teachers become more inaccessible, and students might hesitate to approach the teachers often.
Conducting one-on-one assessments can be an effective strategy to solve this problem. Individual sessions with students will make a teacher more approachable to the students.
The students will be able to share their issues, learning goals, and needs without hesitation with the teachers and seek help better. If conducting a separate session for every single student is too time-consuming, sessions with small batches of students (3-4 students per batch) can also be effective.
Create Practical Tests and Simulations
Learning is not just about memorizing chunks of information and forgetting it right the day after the examination. There is so much more to the modern landscape of learning. Teachers have to assess the practical knowledge and concepts of students as well.
And this is especially important in online tests where students can Google theoretical information. So to effectively assess how much a student has learned about a subject (especially in the online mode), more practical questions and simulation-style tests have to be conducted rather than plain MCQs or theoretical, broad answers.
For instance, teachers can conduct live assessments or debates on depth concepts. Designing test formats that stimulate the thinking capability of students is the most effective strategy for conducting online assessments. Set questions that require the students to understand concepts and think critically. Questions that test the intellect and ask for students’ personal opinions will make it harder for students to cheat (since most of these questions are non-Google-able).
Take a Flexible Approach to Tests
Remote tests create opportunities for students to slack off or take advantage of the situation easily. So teachers need to adopt a more proactive, creative, and flexible approach to assessing every student via the online mode.
For instance, conducting oral tests can be an effective strategy to test the knowledge of students in real-time which gives them less opportunity to slack off or take the help of unfair means. Especially, taking surprise oral tests randomly on topics will catch the students off guard.
Since they will not have the time beforehand to keep ready the material to cheat from, no student will usually be able to answer if he or she has not learned the subject. However, if this process seems too lengthy, teachers can create several sets of exam questions and conduct different versions of the exam in small groups of 4-5 students at different times.
Establish Clear Communication
Communicating the rules and regulations of the online exam to the students should be the first step toward conducting a successful online assessment. Teachers should clearly explain to the students every detail about the test since there is more scope for confusion in online assessments and teachers are not physically present to resolve those confusions. The teachers need to state all the details like:
- Which platform the test will be taken on? (Zoom, Microsoft Teams, etc.)
- How will the students receive the question paper (via mail, chat box of the platform, etc.)
- Mode of submission of the answer sheet ((via mail, chatbox of the platform, etc.)
- Form of submission of the answer sheet (Word file, PDF, etc)
- The time limit of the examination, the maximum time within which the answer sheet has to be submitted, and the consequence of not abiding by it.
- The rules, code of conduct, and policies of the examination ( keep the camera on at all times, or not use Google or any study material to cheat) and the consequences of not following the rules.
- The dos and don’ts during the online assessment. (such as not taking a washroom break without permission or switching on the microphone to answer every time the invigilator asks something). The consequences of not following these rules should be discussed.
- Provide all this information to the students in a PDF format and further also discuss with them to enforce it. It establishes clear expectations beforehand. If a student is liable to action (for not following any of the rules), authorities should subject that student to action so that the other students understand the importance of the rules.
Aim for Integrity
The best way to steer clear of any dispute during the online assessment process is to create an environment that facilitates honesty and integrity. For instance, you can:
- Ask the students to clear out everything from their desks and show it on the camera that the desk is clear.
- Keep the video camera of the device they are using to give the test at such an angle that their face and answer sheet are visible.
- Create question banks or multiple testing templates that make it difficult for students to answer with their classmates.
It is not necessary that taking all of these steps will completely stop the students from cheating. But all these will create more obstacles to cheating if a student intends to do it. Setting expectations around honesty and ethics is a great approach.
Consider Alternative Assessments
Online assessments will be more successful if there is enough experimentation with the test’s format rather than sticking to the traditional pen-and-paper mode of examination. For instance:
- Group assignments and collaborative assessments.
- Open-ended projects that incorporate audio or video.
- Gamified assignments using formative assessment tools. These tests have time limits, are highly competitive and engaging, and make it almost impossible for the students to Google the answers (because the questions require an instant response). Teachers can also use tools like flipping to edit interactive games with Google Sheets.
Adopting such creative and out-of-the-box online assessment strategies can play a massive role in making it successful. All these test formats test not only the knowledge but also the interaction skills and response time.
Also, these test formats make it less likely for the students to cheat, not just because it is difficult. Since these test formats are so engaging, students are likely to develop a greater interest in their academics and thus give the test more sincerely. PrepAi is a tool that helps teachers set question papers for remote assessments.
Keep Tabs on State Tests
One of the difficulties of conducting online assessments is the constantly changing landscape of online tests. States can change the rules and format of online tests which keeps the students and teachers in the dark. Students can be unsure if the online test will be able to accurately assess their knowledge and skills. Teachers can be confused regarding how they should conduct the online examination.
So school districts, state education departments, and universities should keep a tab on the State rules to reassure the students regarding the fairness of the test. Communicate to the students about any updates from the State to relieve them of any stress, anxiety, or concern regarding online assessments.
How To Conduct Assessments Remotely?
Brainstorm With the Other Teachers
The remote learning environment has isolated not only the students but also the faculty members. It can create more confusion and stress among the teachers. So it is important for teachers to actively reach out to each other to ask about any confusion they might have regarding the online assessment method.
For instance, a teacher might not know how to set the question paper in a particular tool. Resolving these doubts by fellow teachers is a necessity to conduct online assessments successfully. Adapting to a remote learning environment is more difficult for the teacher than for the student since the teacher has to deal more with the technical aspects.
Since most teachers belong to an older generation, they might not have a great understanding of most technological aspects. So it is crucial to conduct staff meetings where teachers can raise these issues. Teachers should also be able to reach out via mail to the authorities regarding any doubt about conducting online exams. Also, faculty members should brainstorm among themselves effective strategies to take online assessments.
Administer More Tests
Rather than conducting assessments twice a year that cover big chunks of the syllabus, running tests frequently throughout the year that cover only a few chapters can be a more effective strategy in the case of online assessments.
It will make the students more proactive in their preparation, keep them on their toes and give a more nuanced assessment of the performance of every student. Also, since the students will know that there will soon be another test and multiple opportunities to perform better, they will be less likely to cheat.
What Are Some of the Additional Strategies To Make Remote Assessments Effective?
Interactive Presentations With Embedded Assessment
One of the difficulties online assessments possess is requiring students to log into various platforms. It is a huge technical challenge and can be very time-consuming. Rather than sending a link in the video chat or LMS, a speedier and more efficient technology can be to embed it in an interactive presentation.
Several tools enable teachers to send students formative assessments to check their clarity of the concept. They also enable a student-paced asynchronous component. It ensures that even if a student gets disconnected from the video call due to a poor internet connection, they can still catch up. PrepAI is a tool that helps teachers set question papers.
Asynchronous Remote Assessment
During a synchronous video call, there is not enough time for the students and the teacher to engage in discussions and feedback. Rather designing asynchronous assessments can provide a lot of benefits like:
- Students get more time to research the study material and build their understanding rather than having to respond on the go.
- Asynchronous assessments are self-paced and less dependent on the internet bandwidth. It can prove to be advantageous to students with poor access to an internet connection.
- Conducting high-quality asynchronous assessments gives a teacher more insight into the thinking pattern of the student.
- Asynchronous assessments give the students more time to reflect on their learning.
Asynchronous assessments, if conducted correctly, can be a very effective tool to test students’ knowledge in a remote learning environment. But teachers need to ensure that they pick the tools that provide the opportunity for students to efficiently explain their thoughts.
Adopt Proctoring Tools
Online proctoring is a technology that enables teachers to conduct remote assessments without the risk of any student cheating.
Such tools prevent the students from:
- Accessing external online resources during assessments
- Verifying the candidate’s identity
- Examining the conduct of the student (any movements that indicate cheating)
- Recording the webcam view and monitoring the feed.
- Monitoring the voice output and input of the candidate’s device.
Evolution of Online Assessment Systems
The need for secure online assessment systems emerged after the pandemic hit, and educational institutions had to be closed. As technologies like artificial intelligence, data mining techniques, network infrastructure, etc are improving, there is a constant evolution in secure remote assessments too.
During the pandemic, the education sector underwent a transformation wave. Multiple tech giants started developing platforms that allow secure online assessment. These companies worked on bringing in new features in remote assessment tools and platforms that prevent data manipulation, cheating, paper leaks, etc.
As the systems evolved and secured online assessments became more convenient and safer. Today several advanced online testing and advanced testing centers have been established in India and other countries. And with more tech giants coming up, the number will eventually go up.
The pandemic situation is very uncertain, and it might become serious. Educational institutions have to return to online education again, and remote assessments might become a necessity in the future. Also, with the evolution of the education sector, remote assessments might soon become the future. So the need for secure remote assessment tools will continue in the future.