About The University of Queensland
“The University of Queensland (UQ) is one of Australia’s leading research and teaching institutions. For more than a century, we have been bringing together outstanding educators, researchers and innovators – across a range of disciplines – to inspire the next generation and to advance ideas that can benefit the world.
Today, UQ is ranked among the world’s leading universities and we are consistently recognised as one of the top 5 universities in Australia. Each year, we teach around 55,000 students across 6 faculties, located at our 3 beautiful campuses at St Lucia, Herston and Gatton – as well as online. We aspire to broaden the knowledge and skills of these students, so that they’re equipped to achieve their professional goals and make a positive contribution to our society, and the world.”
For this case study, we interviewed Dr Sam McKenzie, Project Manager at the Institute for Teaching and Learning Innovation at The University of Queensland.
WhyThe University’s eAssessment Project began in 2018 with an aim to improve all forms of assessment, including exams and formative assessments, supporting the strategic initiatives of The University. The project, led by Dr Sam McKenzie, aimed “to identify electronic assessment options that facilitate improved pedagogical practices and address existing administrative issues.”
In particular, the project sought to:
1- Provide flexibility to students when it comes to exam day and better align with how students work now and in the future;
2- Improve sustainability by removing paper exams and the associated logistics.
In addition, Although the need for online assessment was identified two years prior, COVID-19 amplified this need. Dr McKenzie says that the pandemic made the need for assessment that is “flexible, accessible, available anytime and anywhere” more urgent than ever.
HowUQ started using Inspera Assessment in 2020, running an initial pilot with open-book assessments for 16 courses from July to December. Due to COVID, it was necessary to get the pilot up and running quickly so that students could take their exams remotely. The quick rollout meant that a significant amount of support was required such as sharing best practices for transforming assessment with staff and being on call for student support.
An extended pilot ran from January to June 2021 during which the eAssessment Team focussed on training more groups from around The University to use Inspera Assessment. This included the student technical support departments who were able to take over support responsibilities from the eAssessment Team. The Team also created case studies as a means for academics to share ideas.
From July to December 2021, the Team took a school-based approach to online assessment onboarding so that everyone in a teaching and learning role within a particular school could be onboarded more effectively.
The move to digital assessment has been popular with stakeholders across The University. In fact, the implementation was so popular that the demand for online assessment was greater than the eAssessment Team’s capacity to roll it out.
Academics at The University of Queensland have been happy with the variety of question and stimulus material types available in Inspera Assessment that wouldn’t have been possible with pen and paper or The University’s existing electronic systems. Meanwhile, students found Inspera Assessment easy to use and some preferred it to other digital tools used at The University. From an administrative perspective, benefits include having a clear overview of all assessment processes, from authoring to delivery and grading, in one place. A common theme for all stakeholders was that they liked being able to use a single platform rather than multiple tools. Dr McKenzie says there are no “additional convoluted processes, it’s all in Inspera.”
In the long term, Sam McKenzie says that the ideal scenario would be to transition the majority of the university’s assessments into Inspera Assessment. Then, she would like to see exams replaced with more authentic assessments throughout the semester in which students receive feedback as they go. However, she says that this goal is ambitious and may not be realistic for every course. What is realistic, though, is integrating Inspera Assessment with The University of Queensland’s virtual machine which allows students to use software relevant to their courses and future careers under exam conditions. These kinds of activities would be impossible with paper exams and provide students with an opportunity to showcase more of their skills.
Learn more about The University of Queensland's journey to digital assessment: