Leaner, Cleaner, Greener: How Reading’s assessment data is changing for the better.
Dr Emma Mayhew (EMA Academic Director), Dr Madeleine Davies (EMA Academic Partner), Kat Lee (Project Manager, External)
The Electronic Management of Assessment (EMA) Programme has been created to deliver the University’s long-term vision for online assessment while improving the underlying processes and supporting systems. The reduction in manual assessment recording is at the heart of changes being delivered this autumn by one of the Programme’s workstreams, Core Systems, which is making headway towards the ultimate aim of being able to integrate Blackboard and RISIS assessment information and marks.
The challenge for Reading is that sub modular marks calculation in RISIS needs to have full information about all assessments contributing towards an overall mark, and this is currently stored in Excel. LOTS of Excel. The biggest problem with spreadsheets is often the isolation from the rest of an organisation, making collaboration tricky: data cannot be automatically or easily incorporated into other processes or systems. UoR is not exempt from this challenge that causes multiple requests for the same/similar information on modules and assessment information throughout the academic year. This can give rise to frustration from all colleagues involved in the process and it leads to difficulties in accessing information quickly.
Over the last three months, programme administration colleagues across the University have been supporting the transition to sub modular marks by creating the starting point for detailed assessment information for UG modules running in the 2017/18 academic year. It has been a significant task, focused on the aim to create lean, green and more streamlined approaches for managing assessment and marks data.
We are now able to announce the following improvements that we are delivering for the Autumn Term:
1) Module Convenors From the beginning of term, all module convenors for UG modules will be able to view sub modular assessment information held in RISIS for their modules. This will allow them to track their modules and to identify any problems at an earlier stage of the academic year. It will also be a one-stop resource for all module information so that queries can be answered quickly and easily simply by accessing this screen.
2) Mark Entry Programme Administrators will be able to enter sub modular marks into RISIS for UG assessment from November onwards (where already submitted/marked). Corresponding grades will be able to show where penalties such as late deductions have been made. This allows Programme Administrators, Exams Officers and Senior Tutors to drill down into the details of students’ grades, to check the history of marks more easily, and to diagnose problems quickly.
3) Personal Tutors
Building on the existing Tutor Card area of RISIS, additional information will be available to show the breakdown of individual, sub modular assessment marks for tutees during the course of the academic year. Previously, many colleagues had to wait until the end of the academic session to access this information and even then they may only have been able to access overall module marks. The new screen will provide current information and greatly enhanced detail (see image).
As well as being able to download information where required, a number of pre-defined reports will also be available to schools, providing assessment information such as submission dates and assessment types. SDTLs will, for example, be able to identify where assessment bunching occurs.
The goal is to produce a ‘cleaner’ system that is intuitive and responsive to staff and student needs. The team is working with a gradate student representative and with RUSU to obtain student perspectives on the upcoming changes and to work towards enabling a consistently good student assessment experience.
To help you find out more about the immediate benefits going live this term, the EMA Programme is running a webinar to highlight some of the changes and new RISIS screens on Monday 11th September. If you would like to sign up for the webinar, please contact the EMA team at email@example.com
More broadly, the team working on the EMA Programme would like all our colleagues to feel that they can share any good ideas with us and discuss any thoughts they have about the programme. If you would like to contact us, we would be delighted to hear from you. Please do e-mail EMA Academic Director Emma Mayhew (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Academic Partner Madeleine Davies (email@example.com).