In a highly entertaining, amusing, informative and interactive session, Dr. Chris Moore, an Anatomy Professor at University of the West of England (UWE) Bristol, taught the delegates how using Blackboard and tablets can completely modernise testing systems, and significantly improve student engagement.

At UWE Bristol, Dr. Moore faced the problem of being able to properly and consistently assess his Level 1 Anatomy Students during 24 weeks of teaching, lectures, practicals, tutorials and placements, depending upon the course. With only a lab report and a Multiple Choice Question (MCQ) exam during the academic year, Dr. Moore was finding that students were not showing up to labs in a regular way, and were not engaging in the coursework that would deliver the knowledge and coping mechanisms for advancing to Level 2 and beyond.

The first step in addressing this issue came in the form of a Continuous Online Practical Portfolio, incorporating iSpring software to his Blackboard hosted module to deliver Varied Online Question (VOQ) based assignments, set around each lecture/practical fortnight. With this model he could automatically assess student understanding of knowledge from lectures, and practical skills from labs, thereby encouraging better engagement with both. But the issue of effectively delivering a more variable yet robust exam was still to be solved. That’s why he adopted the ‘walled garden’ Learnpad tablets, which access content determined by the academic via an online dashboard and provided the platform to pilot a large scale online MCQ exam.

The Pilot Testing Phase:

  • 200 Level 1 students
  • 85 Multiple Choice questions
  • 90 minute long assessments
  • Half of the students took the tests on paper and the other half took the tests on tablets that are charged wirelessly
  • The content for the tablet exams were pushed via the Blackboard Dashboard
  • The 2 types of exams were identical in their questions, but tablets provided right/wrong feedback on completion

Advantages and results:
Based on results and engagement, it was clear that the online portfolios were a vast improvement on single submission essays: the students actually earned the grades that they received, and are much better prepared for Level 2 and beyond. The new system encouraged careful thinking and an engaged approach, and Student attendance went “through the roof.

The professor can easily see the engagement platform, monitoring and prevent cheating, with no grading required because the assessments are completely automated through Blackboard and reported to the grade centre.

Moreover, the students perform and behave better in labs because the system has been set up so that if a student does not show up, s/he loses assessment points and cannot access the next assessment.

The next phase:
Dr. Moore plans to completely migrate to Mobile Device Based Assessments, which will replace MCQ Level 1 exams. This will mean that students will no longer be able to ‘guess’ the answers, nor share the exams.

The assessments will be varied by the type of learner, offering different, randomised questions, depending upon what Dr. Moore wants answered, and randomised order of answers. As an added benefit, thanks to instant and automated marking, they will offer immediate feedback to students on completion of the exam and send instant reporting of marking to the exam administrator.

So, how does Dr. Moore see the future of assessments? Simply put he foresees “the death of the MCQ.”

Click here to download Dr. Moore’s presentation.

“Unlocking the potential of authentic assessment and leveraging the investments in learning technology infrastructure” is one of the many success stories presented at the Teaching and Learning Conference EMEA 2016.


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