Assessments are a checkpoint for student learning and teaching efficacy; consequently, fair, inclusive, and accurate assessments are critical to increase learning outcomes.
When exams are not fair nor inclusive, they become vulnerable to misconduct, resulting in missed learning opportunities. When exams do not cover what was taught, students may feel stressed and vulnerable. These missed opportunities can compound and widen learning gaps.
Vulnerable students may turn to shortcut solutions, and when students take shortcut solutions, exams are not an accurate evaluation of knowledge. So ensuring academic integrity within assessments involves bolstering student learning alongside measures that mitigate shortcuts.
Let’s take a closer look at how to support fair and inclusive end-to-end assessment.
Proactively bolster student learning
- Design fair assessments that measure student learning. Make sure to align assessment content with instruction and rubrics that are clear and presented ahead of time. By modeling fair evaluation, educators can support students.
- Offer a variety of inclusive assessments that provide insight into different components of learning and accommodate different learning styles. Incorporate varied assessment formats within an exam and throughout the course. Multiple-choice can be an effective way to measure breadth of knowledge. On the other hand, short-answer formats can evaluate depth of knowledge. When diverse formats are offered, the entire range of learning can be assessed and struggling students identified, thereby providing opportunities for teacher intervention.
- Uphold formative feedback loops that direct students towards self-learning. In addition to assessment formats that encourage high-impact feedback, tools like Draft Coach guide students through the writing process so that they learn how to uphold integrity in their work. Gradescope, too, is a tool that helps instructors provide feedback on assessments that illuminate next steps for both the instructor and student. Regardless of software platform, feedback is an active way to make students feel seen and less inclined to take shortcut solutions.
- Ensure that grading is based on clearly communicated learning objectives and standards. In other words, provide rubrics prior to assessment so that students understand how they will be measured.
- Analyze student responses to ensure assessments are fair, and to examine answer patterns to see if shortcut solutions have been utilized. Item analysis informs both exam design and teaching; what do students know, with what did they struggle, and what are next steps for both the instructor and student? Furthermore, item analysis supports assessment with integrity by highlighting questions on exams that may need adjustment as well as potential student misconduct.
Explicitly mitigate shortcut solutions
- Utilize similarity checking solutions to prevent text and source code plagiarism. While educators never want to assume students will engage in academic misconduct, such solutions are an effective deterrent against misconduct.
- When the assessment format and type warrants it, ensure students’ answers are their own with proctoring solutions like ProctorExam. Online proctoring has been shown to be an effective deterrent to misconduct (Hylton, Levy, & Dringus 2016).
Long before letter grades became an established institution, assessments were meant to uphold the knowledge exchange between students and teachers. When students take shortcuts, they miss out on opportunities to learn and instructors aren’t provided with accurate insights to support student learning. End-to-end assessment encompasses the entire student educational journey; it is important to ensure that each checkpoint is void of misconduct and accurate so that knowledge exchange can be timely, actionable, and specific to individual students.