Given the changing UK HE environment and the impact of Covid-19 in terms of online learning and assessment, this study was updated in 2020 and now spans the pre- and post-Covid world, reflecting both the trends in participation, engagement and student experience and providing a practical guide to delivering online assessment.
Updating the Mastering Engineering study provided a great opportunity to explore two important themes:
1. Effective online assessment
2. The impact of Covid 19
The study found that:
- It seemed reasonable to conclude that increasing the course credit from 1% to 3% per assignment did motivate students.
- This incentive likely contributed to the levels of average participation which are at their highest for 5 years at 83.76%.
- Participation with assignments is consistently high, averaging 79% pre-Covid and up to 84% in 2019-2020.
- Attainment is consistently good with average scores on the resource at around 89%.
- 100% of students thought that Mastering had impacted ‘a lot’ on their learning in 2015/16.
- In 2016 students scored Mastering Engineering at 8.2 out of 10 in response to the survey question ‘How likely are you to recommend Mastering Engineering to another student?’
- Mastering Engineering empowered students to address areas of poor performance by providing a safe, structured resource with clear feedback which led to a very positive student experience throughout the years.
In the study, Dr Dobson expands on how she delivered assessment in particular – for example:
- Assigning for credit
- Integrated into the VLE, clearly and consistently
- Online resource is linked to lecture content and is timetabled effectively
- Lecturers monitor student progress, intervening to support where necessary
“Anything that’s going to have weekly small assignments is always going to run better than one large assessment at the end. It makes it so much easier to keep track of your work and keep on top of it.”
– Student, University of Hull
Advice from Dr Dobson
For anyone getting started with building online assessment, Dr Dobson’s main advice is:
“You need to know what you want to achieve but you can start small setting just a few problems for the students and building up. If you have strict regulations, devise a strategy to work around but within that, so that you can assign some credit and make it the best learning experience for the students. Don’t have the online platform and homework as an aside, it has to be central to the course.”
Dr Dobson outlines what ‘good’ looks like for online learning and assessment:
“Clear, well planned out assessment strategy. Having a schedule that the students are aware of, so they have a good overview of where the course is going. Providing credit so the students assign value to the homework and therefore benefit from the learning. Weekly deadlines to drive regular engagement.”