Canvas for Assessment (Semester 2 AY2020/21)

A wide range of assessments will be administered in 2020-21, particularly given that online assessments will replace physical examinations in most instances until further notice (unless accrediting bodies require in person assessments).

There are two distinct groups of assessments which will be assessed under the standard Study Regulations:

  • Examinations / Tests – remote examinations, timed take home assessments (THA), in-person examinations/practicals (where required), class tests etc.
  • Continuous Assessment / Coursework – essays, projects, reports, portfolios etc.

The following guidance is intended to support examinations/tests and continuous assessment/coursework during Semester 2 AY2020/21.  The advice has been designed to help you consider what mode of submission is suitable for your students in the current situation and to point you towards appropriate guidance for the use of Canvas, depending on the mode of assessment.

Online examinations / tests will be maintained as a replacement for physical examinations until further notice (unless accrediting bodies require in person assessments). In completing the assessment of modules, online examinations should be avoided if learning outcomes have already been satisfied through continuous assessment components, or if they can be satisfied by other means. Where final exams are necessary to satisfy the learning outcomes for a module, these will be arranged by the School.

When preparing for the resit period in Canvas during August 2021, the majority of general guidance remains the same as advised during May 2021 and is included or linked below. Keep it simple, low tech and continue to avoid the use of TII and Canvas quizzes which relies on students having bandwidth and equipment in a short timeframe are still key messages.

The main difference for the August 2021 resit period is in the set-up of the assignment in Canvas. If students have previously completed an online exam on your module, please DO NOT amend that previous online exam.  A NEW assignment should be set up within the same Canvas Assignment Group and assigned only to those students who are taking the resit in August 2021.

It is imperative that August 2021 resits in Canvas are setup in the correct way to avoid potential pitfalls.

Aside from this difference, all of the advice and guidance below is still appropriate.

⬜ Examples of online examinations which worked well during the 2020 examination period:

  1. A short scheduled online exam – (of duration equal to the original module exam, with additional time added to allow for online submission e.g. X+1hr)
  2. An online open book assessment – (of duration up to 24 hours)
  3. An assignment submitted online – (with slightly longer duration of up to 7 days)

For online examinations, the period for submission will vary based on the type of assessment, the material covered and also the requirements set by the programme’s accrediting body, if applicable. However, all online examinations will include additional time to allow for download and upload of the assessment and accessibility for those needing reasonable adjustments. It is proposed that the nature of the assessment could determine the upload/technical time allowed. A 3-hour exam would follow the X+1 model and could operate on a pro rata basis according to the nature of the assessment. Details of your assessments should be outlined in module handbooks.

Remember, a 24-hour open book or take home assessment does not mean that that students should work on it for 24 hours! The time is provided to accommodate different circumstances and offer more flexibility to complete the assessment. The important thing is that you explicitly detail your expectations for each question and share this with students in your assessment instructions.  Also, consider creating a tighter word limit for each question in order to ensure that you promote quality over quantity. For guidance on word count, refer to the workload equivalence table on page 21 of the QUB Assessment Handbook 2020-21 . Also the following workload equivalence guide from Ulster University is helpful!

NOTE: Guidance on considerations for open book assessment is available here:   🔗 Online Open Book Assessments  🔗 A Helpful Guide for Students

KEY ADVICE - SPECIFIC TO EXAMINATIONS / TESTS

◼  Anonymous Grading: The process of anonymous grading in Canvas raises potential issues such as; problems in the identification of students with exceptional circumstances, late submissions and feedback to all students. This may impact on the student experience and in this current situation, schools are advised NOT to use anonymous grading in Canvas. Note that 3.1.2 of the Study Regulations for both Undergraduate Programmes and Postgraduate Programmes are not applicable for online assessments delivered via Canvas.

◼  Use of Turnitin – The system supplier (Turnitin) are experiencing ongoing issues resulting in a poor student and academic experience. As a result, Schools are advised NOT to use Turnitin for online examinations (options 1 and 2 as described at top of page), at this time. The Canvas Team continue to monitor the response of the Turnitin supplier to these issues, but there is the potential for these to impact Turnitin assignments within Canvas. See latest guidance on use of Turnitin:   🔗 Turnitin within Canvas: Staff Guide

◼  Use Assignments rather than Quizzes –  The use of any real time quizzing system should be avoided during the formal examination period beginning in May 2021, as it relies on students having bandwidth and equipment to submit in a short time-frame, which really puts concentrated pressure on the system. In this current situation, schools are advised NOT to use Canvas Quizzes for online examination.

◼  School based decision to support local contexts –  There are different options to consider with assignment settings to suit local contexts. Schools need to take firm decisions on approach and communicate effectively to staff. For example, a school decision around setting of the assignment ‘until date’ or decisions around avoiding use of rubrics in cases where multiple graders are involved in the marking process etc. needs to be agreed.

◼  Use of 3rd Party Tools/Apps – During the examination period in May 2020, a number of students encountered difficulty when using unsupported 3rd party tools such as Microsoft LENS. It is recommended to only use tools supported by the University. If Schools do have a requirement to use unsupported tools, provide clear guidance to students on how to use and instruction on alternative submission options should they encounter any issues submitting via Canvas.

◼  Consider all eventualities – Schools should stagger start times of online exams across the Faculty, to smooth online assessment peaks in the system. For time bound assessment, consider a mock test so that students are comfortable with the process.  Have a Plan B in place for submission, e.g. use of email to submit files.

Please refer to step-by-step guidance on the use of Assignment and Quizzes to support Examinations / Tests. 🔗 Link to Guide

Continuous assessment /coursework refers to the regular assessment of the learning performance related to a module and is accompanied by regular feedback. It can replace the final examination (often used as an alternative) or it can be combined with the final examination to calculate a final grade. It often provides a more accurate and complete picture of the learner’s level and has a positive impact on learning.

⬜ Examples of continuous assessments /coursework include:

  • Coursework-type assignments
  • Student presentations/seminars
  • Final year projects
  • Practical skills tests
  • Portfolio
  • Multiple choice questions
  • Peer assessment

Assessment should be contextual and authentic. In other words it should be relevant to the developing skills of the student and what they will be expected to do as they progress and graduate. Such assessments are also more difficult to collude on.

KEY ADVICE - SPECIFIC TO CONTINUOUS ASSESSMENT / COURSEWORK

◼  Anonymous Grading: The process of anonymous grading in Canvas raises potential issues such as; problems in the identification of students with exceptional circumstances, late submissions and feedback to all students. This may impact on the student experience and in this current situation, schools are advised NOT to use anonymous grading in Canvas. Note that 3.1.2 of the Study Regulations for both Undergraduate Programmes and Postgraduate Programmes are not applicable for online assessments delivered via Canvas.

◼  Use of Turnitin – The system supplier (Turnitin) are experiencing ongoing issues resulting in a poor student and academic experience. The Canvas Team continue to monitor the response of the Turnitin supplier to these issues, but there is the potential for these to impact Turnitin assignments within Canvas. For continuous assessment / coursework originally set up to use Turnitin, schools are advised to use Turnitin at their own discretion. In situations where you do need to use Turnitin, including for the purpose of dissertations, please ensure you follow the correct set up guidance in order to minimise any potential issues, noting in particular the guidance around the 3 options available for generation of similarity reports for student submission.  🔗 Turnitin within Canvas: Staff Guide

◼  Considered use of Quizzes –  In this current situation, schools are advised NOT to use Canvas Quizzes in any situation that relies on students having bandwidth and equipment to submit in a short time-frame, which really puts concentrated pressure on the system. If you have a requirement to use Canvas Quizzes for coursework set outside of the formal examination period beginning in May 2021, please ensure you follow step-by-step guidance (linked below) to avoid any potential pitfalls.

Please refer to step-by-step guidance on the use of Assignment and Quizzes to support Continuous Assessment / Coursework. 🔗 Link to Guide

Key Considerations

In addition to the advice outlined above, the following are key considerations to bear in mind, regardless of the mode of assessment in use. When considering how students should submit any pieces of assessment online in the current semester, it is recommended that the method employing the least amount of technology should be preferred over more technology reliant alternatives. In the current context, the less complex the assessment is, the better able students will be to submit without incident, and the less likely you will have any problems once it is submitted.

  1. Keep it Simple – From instructions to submissions, simplify the process.
  2. Stick with Low-Tech – Don’t over rely on complex technology. Do not expect the tech to run as if there wasn’t an ongoing global emergency.
  3. Devices – Students may not have the hardware required. Consider how students will access and summit their assignments. A mobile phone may be the only device they have access to.
  4. Accessibility – Assessment approaches must allow all students to have the opportunity to engage fully and perform on an equal basis with their peers and designing for accessibility is important when creating online assessments. Students have been advised to contact their Disability Officer, once they receive details of the assessment, if they think they may require a reasonable adjustment.  The Disability Services team can be contacted at: disability.office@qub.ac.uk

Further Advice, Support and Documentation

Quality Assurance and Regulations

The Quality Assurance and Regulations (QAR) Team in Academic Affairs continues to provide regulatory support and can be contacted at: qar@qub.ac.uk

Centre for Educational Development

The Centre for Educational Development (CED) continues to provide support for assessment and can be contacted at: eLearning@qub.ac.uk

Examinations Office

The Examinations Office can be contacted with exam related queries at the following address: exams@qub.ac.uk

Disability Services

Disability Services provide students and staff with appropriate information relating to disability issues. They can be contacted at: disability.office@qub.ac.uk

Canvas Tier1 Support

Canvas Tier 1 are available 24x7x365 via the HELP menu in Canvas for technical queries and advice on ‘how do I…’ type questions. They can also be reached outside of Canvas by email: support@instructure.com

University Reference Documents