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Putting Digital Assessment at the Heart of the University Strategy

How a clear strategy on digital assessment ensured a seamless transition to Gradescope for the University of Leeds.

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Discover how Leeds rolled out Gradescope to thousands of faculty across disciplines in only two months, far quicker than anticipated.

Supporting the digital assessment strategy with Gradescope

The University of Leeds chose to pilot Gradescope to support their digital assessment strategy but had to quickly move exams online when the pandemic hit. The support of internal champions, guidance from Turnitin, and the existing groundwork helped the University widely adopt Gradescope as one of their core assessment tools.

1. The University of Leeds decided to pilot Gradescope in January 2020 with a rollout planned over the course of the next two years.

2. When the pandemic hit, it quickly became apparent to academics that Gradescope was an ideal solution to deliver assessment online.

3. After determining that Gradescope was the right tool, the University accelerated the implementation and completed it within two months.

4. Word of mouth led to widespread adoption of Gradescope with the success of early champions inspiring academics across other disciplines.

Rolling out Gradescope to faculty and students in just two months

The University of Leeds first began piloting Gradescope for their assessments in January 2020, holding training sessions for interested academics such as Dr. Pugh and Dr. Borman. The University forecasted that the rollout would take around two years. 

However, when the UK went into lockdown, there was a clear need to move assessment online—and quickly. The central learning technology team worked alongside digital education leads to champion Gradescope and partnered with other academic staff in making the switch to online assessment ahead of the 2020 exam season. The successful rollout took only two months, far quicker than anticipated.

Academic staff took to Gradescope very well. Even those who had been nervous about that digital transition gave very good feedback. From there, other schools became interested and began using it.

Dr. Duncan Borman, Associate Professor, working in the school of Civil Engineering & Academic Lead for Digital Assessment

Championing Gradescope across the university

As digital assessment champions, Dr. Pugh and Dr. Borman knew that it was critical that staff and students could quickly adopt Gradescope, submitting and assessing with confidence.

Colleagues within Engineering and Physical Sciences began using Gradescope almost immediately. Instructors were vocal about the benefits of the tool such as digital annotation, flexible rubrics and submission of handwritten work. Feedback from both staff and students was highly positive. Word spread across the University, and soon academics from other faculties were using Gradescope for their assessments with usage growing in the Business School and in English, utilising Gradescope’s ability to incorporate various assignment types.

With a single login through their familiar Blackboard LMS, instructors were able to easily link Gradescope assignments to their courses. This helped Gradescope become fully integrated across numerous faculties at the University of Leeds and within the University’s existing infrastructure.

With a return to campus in 2021, the University continued to use Gradescope for delivering both remote and in-person homework and exams. Gradescope’s flexibility and the variety of assignment types meant that they could streamline grading of both paper-based and online assessments. This variety and flexibility also meant that instructors could keep using a tool they were now comfortable with, even as the landscape continued to change.

Digital assessment is now at the heart of the University’s strategy. Now that staff and students are confident using Gradescope, the University has moved to a “Digital by Default” strategy for their assessment.

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