Designing online assessment and exams

This concise series of pages aims to help you think about the best ways to assess students using online, remote methods.

This guide was generated in response to the sudden increase in need for online assessment during Spring/Summer 2020, particularly when it became apparent that restrictions introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic were going to last longer than originally estimated. But having now experienced extended online learning and assessment, it seems certain that both will remain more important than previously.

In August 2020 an ‘OREA’ (Online Remote Assessment and Examinations) working group considered these issues. One of its recommendations was the creation of these pages.

In this guide we describe how to make exams as robust and fair as possible in this environment. The pages were authored by Dr Neil Lent and Professor Neil Turner.

Online assessment raises a number of important background issues.

  • Are some of our students disadvantaged by the different format, or by the different location of study and assessment?
  • Can we test all of the outcomes listed for our programme?
  • Do the online formats generate such reliable results (i.e. if you did the assessment repeatedly, what would the range of grades look like)?
  • Is it more prone to cheating?

Some short general principles on assesement (re)design.

For each assessment type, we have summarised: What it’s good at; What it’s not so good at; Technical and ‘staff effort’ implications; ‘Cheatability’ and how to defend against it in the assessment itself, or by overall assessment design strategy.

Factors that may increase cheating; advice on assessment methods, assessment design, and online proctoring; plus links to useful resources on academic integrity and assessment security.

Resources and courses for online assessment.