As a senior lecturer, Dr. Alison Voice teaches and assesses undergraduate Physics students from first year to final year at the University of Leeds, and also teaches at a joint school with Southwest Jiaotong University in China.
When the UK first went into lockdown, Alison explained that many talks took place to discuss matters of uncertainty around the integrity of running exams online, with questions being raised about whether exams should be cancelled completely: “Students have to write calculations, they have to draw diagrams, they have to write maths ... Normally, this is in an exam hall, sat down with an exam script book and the students write in it. How do we do that online?”
Having spent over twenty years marking exams by hand and believing it was “really hard to mark on screen” for science and maths, Alison was hesitant to shift to online marking. It was only when the faculty was compelled to move online that a way forward quickly emerged in the form of Gradescope, which became an obvious solution for assessing students remotely during lockdown— particularly those based in China.Results
Alison was one of the first to use Gradescope at the University of Leeds, and she has watched its usage grow exponentially across the wider institution throughout 2020. Gradescope usage grew over 60 times from 2019 to 2020 at the university. It was easy for Alison to get started using Gradescope and the tool changed her views on traditional assessment.
She was impressed by Gradescope’s versatility in providing educators with different formats and ways to evaluate their students’ work. ”In physics, we write a lot of maths. We have complex diagrams and the multiple ways I can input that into Gradescope is brilliant. I can type a sentence that has LaTeX in it— so I can type math and units and symbols. I can upload an image of a diagram. Students can write LaTeX in their answers. So this makes it a really versatile tool which I haven't seen in any other tool.”
Alison further acknowledged how the user-friendly interface conveniently provided all of her students’ answers in one place. In addition, the combination of automatic and manual marking simplified the process significantly. “What’s not to like about that?” she said.
“Gradescope has convinced me that it is perfectly possible to mark on screen. In fact, it is better and there are so many more advantages.” She continues, “Assessments can take many forms. They can be a quick test that's timed and you've only got half an hour to do it, and they can be long and researched and take you several days. All that's possible with Gradescope.”
On discussing her colleagues' reaction to Gradescope, Alison highlights that the tool is future-proof and will continue to be used when they return to traditional assessments: “The faculty have really taken Gradescope on board and my colleagues have said it is brilliant and is making our life much easier to the extent that when we go back to face-to-face, I think we will use it a great deal.”
Before lockdown, Alison had been wary of moving away from tried and tested assessment methods, but has welcomed the opportunity to consider new technologies as a result of the pandemic. Gradescope has allowed Alison to assess and support her “21st century students in 21st century ways”.
Want to learn more about Gradescope? Join one of our online workshops and learn how instructors use Gradescope. We will offer guidance on how to deliver assessments in remote, in-person, and hybrid teaching.