The journal article was called ‘Migration and transformation: a sociomaterial analysis of practitioners’ experiences with online exams.’ The article considered the emergence and adoption of digital technologies which presents educators with new opportunities to think creatively about assessment and to increase its alignment with long-term educational goals. The article encouraged practitioners to think creatively about how assessment strategies align with educational goals, to consider the limitations of current discourses and to analyse critically the relational and performative roles of digital technologies. The research undertaken presented evidence of the ways in which the social and human practices of online exams are deeply entangled with the material and technological, and cautions against the reinscribing of essentialist or instrumentalist assumptions about technology in assessment practices.

Its findings indicate that:

  1. exam technologies are neither inherently neutral nor essentially transformational;
  2. implementation projects underpinned by the migration discourse can be much more complex and resource-intensive than anticipated; and
  3. ‘transformative’ change may be value-laden and driven by assumptions.

The group considered the approach to open exams and course work in light of Covid-19 considerations and whether moving forward there were opportunities to build more robust and authentic assessments to challenge learners higher order thinking skills.

The group discussed the benefits of Stop, Start, Continue and the positive benefits of reflection, although recognising reflection is often difficult for young students, especially if they are dealing with failure or challenges.

The take home messages from the participants of the journal club at the end of the session were as follows:

  • Think about assessment in terms of what we are trying to achieve as opposed to the mechanics of how it is done
  • It is important to be driven by the ILOs as opposed to technology
  • Do we really need exams, what do they achieve as opposed to coursework?
  • Some specialised degrees are different when exams are necessary because of professional body requirements
  • Need to evaluate the learning of the student, exams have been used for centuries and we need to evolve with the digital age
  • Covid-19 has forced our hand, and a lot of positive changes are happening, need to make sure we reflect on these changes and assess how effective these are
  • If everyone did coursework, deadlines would need to be coordinated so there was not a lot of overlapping – this is an administrative task, whilst not a simple or quick one, it is achievable
  • Coursework will improve students’ time management skills but could also increase stress levels if they are not able to manage this well

Continue the conversation through our Yammer Pedagogy Journal Club.