University Mathematics Assessment Practices During the Covid-19 Pandemic

Henley, Matthew; Grove, Michael and Hilliam, Rachel (2022). University Mathematics Assessment Practices During the Covid-19 Pandemic. MSOR Connections, 20(3) pp. 5–17.




In response to the global Covid-19 pandemic departments of mathematical sciences within the UK and Ireland needed to adapt their teaching approaches and methodologies from March 2020 to incorporate not only government social distancing requirements, but also periods of national lockdown and the fact that students were necessarily studying online. In planning for the many different and possible scenarios, universities implemented a range of emergency measures and regulation changes to provide frameworks for adapting teaching, learning and assessment approaches, and at a subject level, departments also needed to correspondingly respond to specific disciplinary needs. Here we specifically consider the changes made by mathematical sciences departments to their assessment practices in the period from March 2020 until January 2021 and their proposed adjustments for the remainder of the 2020/21 academic year. We found that departments were using a range of different approaches regarding the release of their assessments and this paper considers the implications of each for future practice. In particular we identified a concerning issue that emerged across a number of departments in relation to academic misconduct that will now require a community-wide approach if open-book online assessments are to prove a valid, reliable and fair method of assessment in the longer-term.

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