How to  Support Student Originality with Remote Assessment | D2L
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How to Support Student Originality with Remote Assessment

  • 7 Min Read

Academic integrity is something covered in every student handbook, and while students are aware that they should not cheat, copy, or pass off another’s work as their own, that is a negative simplification of the idea. At its core, academic integrity is really about empowering students to be creative and do their best, original work. In the scope of any type of course, assessment is a big part of showcasing this. 

Some educators have been challenged by the rush into wider online learning, as they have doubts about delivering assessments with integrity under the new circumstances. They imagine technological challenges on their end or new cheating methods on the other. This need to adapt classroom practices to support remote learning has made teaching and assessment practices subject to much experimentation over the past year. 

But this doesn’t have to be about simply replicating in-class learning. These new challenges are also a new opportunity. Rather than projecting problematic outcomes based on fear or misunderstanding, it’s possible to use new tools and circumstances to drive a new way of learning. With tools already available to educators, it’s possible to even raise standards of accountability.

New Opportunities of a Digital Classroom: Helping Students Succeed with Assessments

Educators know that a successful classroom features different assessment types and software that can reflect the content and its presentation in an effective way. Available now are everything from frequent and low-stakes formative assessments that quickly check understanding to heavier high-stakes and summative assessments that evaluate broadly—and this variety in approach will not only support different learning styles, but it will also measure different facets of learning. The transition to a digital classroom and remote learning challenged the tried-and-true methods of assessment with integrity, but it presents an opportunity for something new—maybe even something more meaningful.

Leveraging a Learning Management System (LMS) like D2L’s Brightspace opens up opportunities to help students succeed with assessments in a new digital environment. These opportunities can include:

  • Bringing syllabi to life. Brightspace allows educators to recreate their course syllabus as something students can explore and engage in. It serves as a centralizing sandbox in which instructors can clearly parcel and organize content. Nothing gets lost and all the bases can be covered in delineated, digestible parts. The first temptation to skirt academic integrity comes from feeling overwhelmed—but a student will feel empowered if he or she can clearly see the pathway to mastery.
  • Streamlining assessments. The Brightspace platform makes the creation, integration, and evaluation of assessments easier than ever. That means assessments can be more frequent without overburdening an educator. Simple assessments centered on multiple-choice style or true-and-false questions are easily constructed within the LMS or imported from other assessment builders. Larger tasks, like projects and research papers that assess higher-order thinking, can also be easily constructed as component steps. In this way, the format is more conducive to frequent and varied assessments as well as the scaffolding of deep work. This helps facilitate an authentic demonstration of learning while decreasing the temptation for cheating.
  • Improving collaboration and interaction. Another way an LMS like Brightspace can support academic integrity is through feedback and collaboration possibilities. Meeting in person certainly has its benefits but it can hinder timeliness, which is a powerful force in motivation. Discussion and collaboration encourage accountability between students and can take place continuously. It’s not limited to just classroom hours or the campus. With students already attached to their devices, it’s one simple way to foster engagement. Students can easily tap into the curriculum, their peers, and their instructor. Actionable feedback that considers the progress of students keeps expectations clear and guides them in their immersion through content. It also fosters assessment with integrity by giving students the confidence to engage organically and genuinely.

Screenshot of Turnitin showecased in Brightspace

Elevate Remote Assessment with the Right Tools

Remote learning and the digital classroom are certainly new for many educators, but they don’t have to mean making a sacrifice in assessment integrity. The assessment technologies of today, such as Gradescope, offer a vast upgrade on the scantron sheets and bubble sheets of old that simplify and streamline the workflow. Instead of using the same, tired, and repetitive assessments, instructors can create self-grading formative assessments around question banks that easily make each interaction unique. Students can build mastery through repeated engagement. 

For more in-depth and substantive assessments, there are tools like Turnitin Feedback Studio available to users within the Brightspace LMS. 

Turnitin Feedback Studio is a tool for educators that was designed to help students cultivate writing excellence and build critical-thinking skills while keeping integrity at the core. It empowers instructors with commenting and grading tools that make the process faster, easier, and more consistent. This type of formative feedback allows educators not only to detect issues, but it also fosters original thinking and teaches students how to avoid mistakes.

Turnitin Feedback Studio integrates seamlessly with courses housed in D2L’s Brightspace platform. This combines a clear and interactive course environment with an all-in-one solution for teachers to check papers for similarity, provide feedback, and grade. 

This integration goes far beyond simply maintaining academic integrity. Turnitin Feedback Studio enhances Brightspace with powerful and innovative means to promote assessment with integrity. With Brightspace and Turnitin Feedback Studio, students have constant access to content with layers of enrichment, interactivity, and new means of accountability.

Students will feel confident and trust in their own creative thinking by taking advantage of such e-learning solutions. Some educators have been viewing this unfamiliar learning situation with anxiety because they either aren’t aware or haven’t imagined the opportunity for a refresh, as this is something fundamentally different. But students can now have the time and space to be constructive and original in a way that years ago might have seemed impossible. It could very well be that instincts around the temptations that undermine academic integrity were more intrinsic to outdated modes and models than characteristic of students as a category.

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Enhance the Standards of Accountability

While using the right, effective tools including Gradescope and Feedback Studio, there are also a few other ways you can help support your students through remote learning and enhance the standards of accountability: 

  • Consider academic integrity in course design. Students are more motivated to authentically engage when assessments aren’t intimidating. This supports the usage of frequent smaller assessments rather than infrequent large assessments. Keep that in mind when structuring your course. Break content and concepts down and make mastery a condition for moving forward. This makes it always possible to scale up and refer to previous material in the progression of the course. 
  • Build diverse assessments. Best practices mean mixing things up. When building objective assessments, try to create question banks of different types so that when students engage with content it remains both fresh and secure. Cheating and unsanctioned collaboration are easily frustrated by changing tests regularly and providing several variants. Constructing with variety in mind will also make it easier to target different aspects of learning.
  • Scaffold skills for evaluating sources. Model and provide practice in selecting sources and judging their credibility. Even if students have the same major, they come from very different places with different assumptions on how knowledge is verified and derived. Communicate your expectations and build opportunities to practice and gain experience in evaluating sources right into the course structure.
  • Use tools that support academic integrity. Educators already have enough to stress about. There are a lot of tools that can help promote academic integrity while streamlining grading workflows. With the assurance that students submit original work, educators can focus on responding to the substance of it.

Moving Forward

It remains to be unclear how universities will look post COVID-19, but most experts are in agreement that things won’t just simply go back to the old days. Twenty-first-century education has undergone a fast-forward, but many of the up-and-coming best learning practices and strategies were already in the works. Educators today have tools at their disposal that can deliver assessment with integrity at the highest of levels. The goal of education remains to grow creative, productive, and independent thinkers and that is not at all undermined by the situation. On the contrary, it may even be strengthened by it.

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