The landscape of assessment has seen significant changes over the course of the last year.

A year ago we saw the dawn of mass availability of generative AI and unsurprisingly, it continues to dominate the news in education and beyond. As we witness the daily improvements in capabilities of large language models, the drawbacks are also more evident. Whether it’s generative AI making up sources or the more recent phenomena of refusing to do what you ask but attempting to show you how, our appreciation of where it could be of benefit gets more nuanced.

It’s not all AI though. Dominant as it has been, it’s not the only change we have witnessed as institutions embrace the flexibility that digital assessment provides them while maintaining integrity in their assessments.

A Banner Year for Inspera

At Inspera we’ve had a busy 2023 with the introduction of Originality into our ecosystem and the enhancement of our remote proctoring capabilities to strengthen the way you can assess flexibly with integrity. We have spoken to educators around the world this year online and spoken at conferences across the USA, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Australia. We also launched our Inspera Community for customers and held in-person customer events in Norway and the UK. This close contact and collaboration with educators gives us detailed insights into their desire to innovate so that our technology is driven by their pedagogic needs.

This blog is a collection of our reflections on 2023 and thoughts on where assessment will go in 2024 and beyond. My thanks to Brent Mundy (Chief Product Officer), Besart Kunushevci (Global Head of Innovation), Roe McFarlane (CEO Americas), Harvey Tayman (General Manager, UK and Benelux), Fiona Orel (Account Manager, UK), Grant Beevers (Account Manager, ANZ), Simon Trevers (Head of AWB Strategy and Propositions) and Simon Martin (Solution Engineer) for their valuable contributions to this post.


Generative AI: A More Nuanced Approach

The initial concern that generative AI was a threat to assessment integrity remains a live issue but it’s not the only discussion being had. Inside and out of education, the way to harness it as a useful assistant is key.

In content authoring there is a delicate balance between using generative AI to create questions but at the same time retain a human touch that gives them the right level of quality. Generative AI lacks the meta cognition necessary to write every question for you. Where it does work well is in creating multiple versions of fact patterns, or generating figures that meet set criteria. Maintaining this balance of help with necessary human input is crucial for preserving the reputation of institutions, globally.

There are great opportunities for AI to free up time for educators so that they can craft personalized feedback. Neither student nor educator wants wholly AI marking, but the ability for AI to flag, group and suggest in assistance to the educator so that they can spend more time writing individual or group feedback. This would change the balance of their time away from machine repeatable tasks to those that need a human.


Flexibility in Assessments: Embracing Online Remote Testing

Institutions are now more confident in adopting flexible assessment methods, notably online remote assessments. This move supports the global drive for internationalization by providing secure and scalable assessments. Moreover, it aligns with environmental initiatives, eliminating the need for international students to travel for assessments and reducing the stress associated with resits.


Evolving Assessment Styles

In tandem with the impact of generative AI, 2023 witnessed an acceleration by some institutions in the departure from traditional long-form essays. We’ve seen movement towards authentic styles, such as presentations and group submissions either as an alternative or in addition to pieces of coursework. For others, a retreat back to closed-book essays to combat generative AI has been the answer. The latter doesn’t match the general movement towards authenticity or the expectations of students.


Moving Beyond Knowledge Recall

Anticipating a shift, we will witness a decline in knowledge-recall-centric exams. With the ever presence of AI in daily life, the focus will shift towards measuring skills and experiences. Continuous assessment and simulation-style questions will play a more prominent role in the overall assessment landscape. Apply, demonstrate, synthesize. That’s the meta cognition so valuable in humans.


Equity and Unbiased Questions

The focus in the USA which will permeate beyond borders is on questions and question types, demonstrating that they are unbiased so as to ensure equity across institutions. Just as institutions conduct research and publish to drive their reputation, the future of academic content will be owning unique, equitable assessment questions and ensuring the questions are unbiased.

We look forward to seeing you online and in person during 2024 and wish you a Happy New Year.