Getting Creative with Assessments for Distance Learners

Sharon Boyd, Nancy McLean, Mirjam Neu

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

An essential part of undertaking a programme of study is the development of skills and competences to prepare for a career. For postgraduate students, the decision to enrol may be driven by intentions to change career, or enhance current skills to progress in a profession. Learning how to communicate using a variety of media is an important skill for all students. In the context of this presentation, we consider students in the sciences who may not have experience or confidence in public engagement and science communication (Rodgers et al., 2018). In the most recent UK Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey (PTES), lower scores at The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies for the questions on students’ “confidence to be creative” and “ability to communicate effectively” indicated that a more imaginative and creative style of assessment may be required (Timmis et al., 2016). It requires a step beyond the traditional method of using technology to replicate conventional assessment types, e.g. essays, to instead consider how technology could facilitate more student-centred, competence-based assessments to develop communication skills (Guerrero-Roldán & Noguera, 2018). This presentation reports on the work of the team of students and staff who critically reviewed assessments being used for online distance learning postgraduate programmes at the institution. The main focus of the review was to identify assessment approaches which could be used to develop creative assessments in the animal sciences. This emphasised students as ‘knowledge creators’ (Pegrum et al., 2015), working as a team to build assessments around authentic tasks which could draw on previous personal and professional experiences. The process highlighted areas of best practice from the perspective of students undertaking the assessments. The review was carried out by a group of four students and staff, and formed part of a PhD project in digital education. While the presentation focuses on developing skills for postgraduate science students, the approaches proposed are applicable to, and have been inspired by, other disciplines. Participants attending this presentation will be encouraged to critically consider the assessments outlined and will be invited to share their experiences. Resources & References Resources Higher Education Academy Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey (PTES) Available at: [Accessed 12 March 2019] References Guerrero-Roldán, A., & Noguera, I. (2018). A model for aligning assessment with competences and learning activities in online courses. The Internet and Higher Education, 38, 36-46. Pegrum, M., Bartle, E., & Longnecker, N. (2015). Can creative podcasting promote deep learning? The use of podcasting for learning content in an undergraduate science unit. British Journal of Educational Technology, 46(1), 142-152. Rodgers, S., Wang, Z., Maras, M., Burgoyne, S., Balakrishnan, B., Stemmle, J., & Schultz, J. (2018). Decoding science: development and evaluation of a science communication training program using a triangulated framework. Science Communication, 40(1), 3-32. https://doi-org/10.1177%2F1075547017747285 Timmis, S., Broadfoot, P., Sutherland, R., & Oldfield, A. (2016). Rethinking assessment in a digital age: opportunities, challenges and risks. British Educational Research Journal, 42(3), 454-476.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 3 Sept 2019
EventAssociation for Learning Technology (ALT) Annual Conference 2019: Data, Dialogue, Doing - University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Duration: 3 Sept 20195 Sept 2019


ConferenceAssociation for Learning Technology (ALT) Annual Conference 2019
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


Dive into the research topics of 'Getting Creative with Assessments for Distance Learners'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this