Category Archives: assessment

Prevention is better than cure – when it comes to catching plagiarism

It is better to remove the opportunity to plagiarise rather than have an assignment that presents the opportunity for students to plagiarise

The keynote from the founder of Moodle, Martin Dougiamas at this years Ireland and UK Moodle Moot provided several examples how online services and products can be used to produce assignments that will not be detected by the standard text matching services that we have all grown to rely on. With these advances in technology and the ubiquitous access to information through the internet plagiarism and academic integrity is a huge concern for education institutions. We all need to work together to reduce the factors that comprise academic integrity – the pressure, the opportunity to cheat and the rationalisation that students may have to cheat. It is a multifaceted problem and therefore requires a multifaceted set of solutions. For the purpose of this blog post I’m going to concentrate on one of those solutions – the design of assessments.

While there have been tremendous advances in text matching software like Ouriginal and TurnItIn in recent years – it is really a case of “the horse has already bolted” to coin an old phrase. If the gate was never open in the first place the horse would never have escaped. If the assignment was designed with Academic Integrity in mind it makes it more difficult for the student to plagiarise. I’m not saying impossible , just more difficult. Remember assessment design is only part of the solution.

 As part of an Erasmus project we have had the opportunity to work with partners in Georgia, Austria, Sweden and the UK to help academics design the opportunity for plagiarism out of assignments.

One of the outputs from this project was the “12 Principles of Academic Integrity” in relation to design of assessments.

  1. Set consistently high academic integrity standards which values university, programme and student/graduate reputation
  2. Provide detailed information direction on how students might avoid breaches of academic integrity and ensure consistency across a programme team
  3. Regularly update and edit assessments and programme assessment strategies.
  4. Use marking criteria and rubrics to reward positive behaviours associated with academic integrity;
  5. Design assessments that motivate and challenge students to do the work themselves;
  6. Ensure assessments are authentic, current and relevant;
  7. Adopt a scaffolded approach to assessments for learning with feedback points throughout the assessment process;
  8. Consider assessment briefs that have open-ended solutions or more than one solution
  9. Design in elements for students to record their individual pathways of thinking demonstrating students own work
  10. Design assessments which allow learners to prepare personalised assessments (either individually or group based)
  11. Build in a form of questioning or presentation/viva type defence component
  12. Co-design assessments or elements of assessment with students;

These principles are derived following a comprehensive review of the literature which focussed on two main questions:

  • What approaches to assessment design are used to promote or maintain academic integrity?
  • What recommendations are being made on using assessment design to support academic integrity?

Over the next few weeks I will share examples how an educator may through using a variety of learning technologies integrate these principles into their assessment design. For now I will leave you short interview with Professor Phil Newton. Phil is the Director of Learning and Teaching, having oversight of all taught programmes within the Swansea University Medical School. His research interest is in the area of Evidence-based Education, particularly Academic Integrity. I had the pleasure of interviewing Phil a while back and want to share his words of wisdom again.

Getting your students to find Youtube videos for their assignment

Coming up with different assignments that will motivate students and enhance their learning experience can be a big challenge. Here is an idea that may help you though.

As a chemistry lecturer I asked the students to find a chemistry related YouTube video and upload it to Moodle, the college learning management system, using the “glossary” function. (If you don’t have a learning management system you can set up an educators account on the free social bookmarking tool – Diigo.)

The one stipulation was that the students had to check that their chosen video was not already uploaded onto Moodle by a colleague. The students then rated each video, in accordance with specified criteria, with the average rating used as the grade for the student for that assignment. With over 80 students in that particular class each student watched over 80 chemistry related videos.  Despite the standard of video chosen varying dramatically, the enthusiasm for this chemistry assignment expressed by the student was immense. The only impact personally was to quickly check that each video chosen was appropriate i.e. contained no explicit material. At the end of semester as a lecturer I was then able to keep decent videos that the students had found for future years.

 

Assessment

This page provides links to the use of technology to support or deliver assessments to your students

Screencasting and assessment

Prezi Logo

Prezi Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Screencasts have multi applications when it comes to assessment.

Students can record a particular task captured on their computer and present it as their assignment. They may also prepare a presentation (e.g. through Prezi or MS powerpoint) or a poster / mindmap and use the the screencasting tool to provide narration supporting the presentation or poster.

Lecturers can provide assessment tips or guidance through a screencast in advance of the assessment. Furtermore lecturers can also provide feedback to thier students

 

A brief guide to screencast-o-matic – a free screencasting tool

Another free screencast tool. Like its counterparts of ScreenR and Jing there are premium versions also available at a specific price, providing additional functionality.

Good points

  • Its free
  • it allows 15 minutes video as opposed to the 5 minutes on offer through Jing and ScreenR

Bad points

  • It is not as intuitive to use at first but once you get used to it, you will have no problems
  • There is a watermark in your video with the free account

There are a series of tutorials on the use of screen-o-matic on their YouTube channel

A brief guide to Jing – the free screencasting tool

JIng

JIng (Photo credit: blogpocket)

The always-ready program that allows you to instantly capture images and record video on your computer—then share them with anyone through a variety of web 2 tools. The video below gives a nice introduction to Jing and how easy it is to use.

Good points

  • It’s easy to use
  • it’s free
  • It captures both picture and movie from your screen
  • it’s very easy to link with other web 2 tools i.e. twitter, facebook etc
  • You can download the movie onto your computer to edit if you have an editing program

Bad points

  • You are limited to five minutes recording
  • you have to install the program on your PC/Mac

If you like what you have just seen but don’t want to download it yet –  Try an interactive Jing Tutorial

Getting your students to generate content

poster for Edtech conference

Student generated content as an assessment

There are a variety of tools that can be used in moodle allowing students to generate reusable learning objects. Click on each of the each on the links below to find out more and how they can be used to get students to generate content to help themselves and their peers learn a particular topic :

Moodle Glossary

The glossary activity module allows participants to create and maintain a list of definitions, like a dictionary.
Glossary can be used in many ways. The entries can be searched or browsed in different formats. A glossary can be a collaborative activity or be restricted to entries made by the teacher. Entries can be put in categories. The auto-linking feature will highlight any word in the course which is located in the glossary.

For information on how to set up a glossary please look at the video below

The wonderful Michelle Moore from Remote Learner gave a presentation at  MoodleMoot 2012 in Ireland where she highlighted the huge potential behind Glossaries

For more information on Glossaries please visit: http://docs.moodle.org/22/en/Glossary_module

Moodle 2 Databases

Databases

The database activity module allows the teacher and/or students to build, display and search a bank of record entries about any conceivable topic. The format and structure of these entries can be almost unlimited, including images, files, URLs, numbers and text amongst other things. Similar to the glossary option the database module is a great activity that can be utilised as a student assessment, allowing students to generate content for the rest of the class (and future classes) to learn from. Three main features distinguish databases from glossaries

Databases allow the teacher to provide specific fields for students to populate with information

You have a variety of template options

You can format the how the final product looks very easily.

The screencast below illustrates how to set up databases

For more information go to:  http://docs.moodle.org/22/en/Database_activity_module