Remote assessment

Special Assessment Period

Information for students regarding the Special Assessment Period (SAP) in the 2019-20 academic year. For guidance specific to the Semester 2 remote assessments, please see the Semester 2 remote assessment page for students.

How exactly will the remote exams work?

The delivery of remote exams for the Special Assessment Period will replicate the arrangements that were in place for the Semester 2 examination period. Full details have been circulated with the email notifying you of your exam timetable and these are also available in the Student Handbook.

As with the Semester 2 remote exams, you will have the chance to enter the virtual exam environment prior to your first exam in order to familiarise yourself with the system which is based on the mechanism by which you normally submit coursework (i.e. via the virtual learning environment, Learn).

Please note that the remote examination process has been designed to minimise the length of time you will need to remain connected to the internet in order to be as fair as possible to those students who have more limited connection. This means that it will not be possible to raise a query about the paper in the virtual exam hall this year. We are working very hard to ensure that all questions are clear; however, if you are unsure, then you should write a comment to this effect on your script, which will be considered as part of the marking process.

With no face-to-face exams how will I be assessed in SAP?

For coursework assessments, the academic School responsible for the module will have advised you of the format of assessment, but this will normally replicate the format employed in Semester 1 or 2.

All exams will be conducted online as remote exams and will take one of the following forms (your exam timetable will advise which form will be used for each exam):

An open book long window remote exam (23 hours)

You will be advised of the expected amount of time and effort you should spend on the assignment. This is likely to be similar to a normal examination length (2-3 hours) and much less than the 23-hour window available.

An open book short window remote exam (normal length + 1 hour)

You will have the normal amount of time to take the paper as if it were an exam, plus a further 1 hour. The additional hour will be provided in order for you to download, complete the exam off-line and then submit your answers to Learn.

When will the remote examinations take place?

The SAP remote exam period will run from  Monday 24 August 2020 until Friday 4 September 2020 inclusive. The examination timetable was released on Tuesday 11 August 2020.

Each Remote Exam will be released to students (via Lean) on the  specific date at which it has been timetabled. Open book long window examinations (type 1a) will be released at 10am and open book short window exams (type 1b) will be released at 9.30am.

This will ensure that students in different time zones have the best opportunity to complete their exam at an appropriate time. Students currently residing in certain western time zones will be contacted separately if it is felt that different arrangements would be more appropriate.

As with the Semester 2 remote examination period, there will only be one examination session per day.

How will you stop cheating, for example students sharing ideas through chat groups?

The University expects all students to uphold the highest standards of academic integrity during the conduct of all assessment processes. Academic integrity is the commitment to and demonstration of honest and responsible scholarship and it is crucially important in order to ensure: i) that all students can learn and benefit from the process of learning; ii) that all students are treated equally and fairly; and iii) that the standards and value of academic awards are maintained. All students receive guidance and training on the University’s expectations in the early stages of their studies.

However, the University is aware of the potential greater vulnerability of the remote assessment process to academic misconduct (i.e. cheating). You should be reassured that the University takes academic misconduct very seriously and has designed the remote assessment arrangements to make it difficult for students to cheat. The full definition of the activities we consider to constitute academic misconduct can be found here. This includes plagiarism (submitting work as your own of which you are not the author), assisting another candidate to gain an unfair advantage (such as sharing answers via WhatsApp or other messaging platforms) and impersonation (someone else taking the exam for you).

The University also employs a variety of mechanisms which enables it to identify where students have cheated. These include:

  • Turnitin UK Plagiarism Detection Service, which searches the web and extensive databases of reference material and content submitted by other students to identify duplicated work. We are aware that some essay mills offer 'plagiarism-free' guarantees. However, many essay mill writers themselves take short cuts by copying work, so text matching software does identify this. Some writers also recycle material for subsequent commissions.
  • Turnitin Authorship Investigate, which provides evidence about the origin and consistency of a student’s submitted work that can be used to confirm academic misconduct. This can be used to track writing styles, typing patterns and linguistic style, helping to determine whether there have been multiple authors of work submitted by the same student or if there are significant variations in writing style from different pieces of work.

The University will also compare student performance in their remote assessments with their prior performance and reserves the right to question students as part of the Regulation XVIII Academic Misconduct process if it is felt necessary to do so to confirm the authorship of any of their submitted work.

The likelihood of detection of any cheating is therefore very high, and the potential consequences of cheating are extremely serious. Students found guilty of academic misconduct may fail an assessment altogether or even have their studies terminated (see the potential penalties listed in Regulation XVIII). Indeed, a number of students were charged with academic misconduct during the Semester 2 remote exam period and appropriate action taken. In addition, students are warned that as well as being morally and ethically wrong, and contrary to University Regulations, there are significant personal risks associated with the use of “essay mills” and other “contract cheating” services. These include blackmail and extortion, because once a student has cheated in this way, they will be permanently vulnerable, not only while in higher education but into their professional careers. Students who use online essay mill services also expose themselves to the risk of their personal details being sold on to identity fraudsters.

If you become aware of circumstances which appear to indicate that another student has committed an act of academic misconduct, you are encouraged to report such circumstances, at the earliest opportunity, to your School Director of Studies or Associate Dean for Teaching. Providing this reporting is done in good faith, the University will view it positively and will seek to maintain your anonymity wherever possible and protect you from victimisation.

If you are concerned in any way about your assessments, there are a lot of people who can offer your help and support. Contact your personal tutor or your module leader, Student Services or get in touch with LSU Advice in the Students’ Union.

What should I do if I think there is an error on the examination question paper?

Please note that the remote examination process has been designed to minimise the length of time you will need to remain connected to the internet in order to be as fair as possible to those students who have more limited connection. This means that it will not be possible to raise a query about the paper in the virtual exam hall this year. We are working very hard to ensure that all questions are clear; however, if you are unsure, then you should write a comment to this effect on your script, which will be considered as part of the marking process.

Is there any national guidance relating to academic standards?

Yes. The Office for Students and the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education have both issued various guidance documents during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. We have followed these carefully and engaged in discussions with the QAA.

A publication from QAA (24th April 2020) states that: “alongside the need to ensure that students are not disadvantaged, awarding bodies also need to be confident – and be able to demonstrate – that graduates in 2020 are not advantaged compared to their peers in previous years; and also that they are not disadvantaged in future years by being known as the ‘COVID-19 generation’, whose degree classifications are not considered reliable.”

It then goes on to say: “Providers whose approaches involve assessing all the intended learning outcomes and ensuring that students achieve a pass (at least) in those assessments, are able to have confidence that the academic standards of the awards are secure.”

We are therefore confident that our remote assessment and safety net processes follow the guidance and are compliant.

Will my degree still be accredited?

Yes – if it already is. We have been in touch with the accrediting bodies. They understand the situation and, in some cases, have sent through revised guidelines which we are following.

When will I get the results of my remote examinations?

Your remote exam work will be marked and moderated (reviewed and checked) in accordance with the standard procedures, taking into account any particular circumstances mentioned above. Marks will then be reviewed again and finalised in consultation with relevant external examiners.

Your final marks for the year will be released as usual through the MyResults System from Wednesday 16 to Monday 21 September. The exact date will depend upon when your School’s SAP Programme or Review Board is taking place. These dates may be subject to change, but we will advise you as soon as we can if there are likely to be any delays. Generic feedback on students’ performance in the exams will be provided in the standard way.

For finalists, we will be in touch with you at a later date with information regarding your certificate, degree transcript and graduation ceremony.

Do I need to submit a Mitigating Circumstances claim due to coronavirus?

You should not normally need to submit a Mitigating Circumstances form as a result of the changes to teaching and assessment in relation to the current coronavirus situation.

However, if you have specific individual circumstances (e.g. genuinely exceptional, serious or acute medical, family, personal, or other problems or events beyond your control) which have affected your studies then you should complete the Mitigating Circumstances form in the normal way. Similarly, if you feel that your work has been disproportionately affected by changes to teaching and assessment because of your own individual circumstances, then you should complete a Mitigating Circumstances form in accordance with Regulation XVII.

You should attempt to obtain evidence to support any Mitigating Circumstances claims – further details on evidence requirements can be found in the Student Handbook. If you are unable to obtain evidence due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, then you should state this in your claim and explain why it was not possible to obtain evidence.

 

PLEASE NOTE: If you have been affected by the recent global events which have bought into stark relief issues of racism in society then you are encouraged to submit a Mitigating Circumstances claim explaining the impact to yourself. No supporting evidence is required for such claims.

I am a Finalist. Will you still be able to award my degree if I pass the assessments that I am undertaking in SAP?

Please be reassured that we will be able to award degrees following the SAP programme boards. We will also ensure that nothing we do disadvantages a student in respect of their degree outcome. Please see the separate FAQ above on “When will I get the results of my remote exams?”.

The University will make arrangements to post Degree Certificates and official mark transcripts to students, during the autumn, once awards have been confirmed by the programme boards.

Will there be a graduation ceremony?

The University postponed this years’ summer Graduation ceremonies and rescheduled them for Easter 2021. Undergraduate students that are awarded degrees following the SAP programme boards will be invited to an Easter 2021 ceremony. Post-graduate students will be invited to one of the ceremonies scheduled to take place in December 2021. You will be contacted separately once the details of these ceremonies have been confirmed.

How do I prepare for a Remote Exam?

The Remote Exams will be ‘open book’ but otherwise will be as consistent as possible with a ‘normal’ exam and therefore you should prepare largely as normal.

If you have an exam in the Special Assessment Period, detailed information about the remote exams has been provided to you with the email notifying you of your exam timetable and is also available in the Student Handbook. This information includes preparing for the exam, downloading the exam paper, producing your answers, remote exam regulations, submitting your work and how to get help.

Our key ‘Top 10 Tips’ are:

  • Make sure you know the time and length of the exam – set yourself a reminder!
  • Practice how you are going to approach the exam, including knowing how you are going to prepare and submit your answers
  • Note down in advance how to get help if you have a problem on the day
  • Study your material as thoroughly as you would for any other exam – do not assume there will be time available to look up all the answers! Decide and organise what materials and resources you plan to use
  • Ensure you are physically and mentally prepared – try to get a good night’s sleep, eat well and keep hydrated
  • On the day – stay calm – approach the exam as you would any other invigilated exam. It is normal to feel a bit nervous at first
  • Start by answering the questions you are most comfortable with
  • Keep a check on timings and the marks allocated for each question
  • If you are typing your responses, make sure you save your work as you go along
  • At the end, check your file carefully before submission to make sure you have included everything you need, check you have submitted the right file and keep a copy!

I’m worried about the technology I need to do my Remote Assessments.

In light of Covid-19, the majority of students are currently still working remotely. Limited study facilities on the campus are now open to students. We are keen to support you and our services to students are still available. There is lots of useful information on the University’s Coronavirus website including guidance on learning remotely, access to campus IT and Library facilities.

However, if you are genuinely concerned about your access to appropriate technology, please contact us as soon as possible by email to let us know so that we can support you. For the majority of assessments, you will only need an internet connection to download and then later upload your work within the appropriate time window.

Technical assistance will be available during the remote exam period, and a backup email address will be supplied in case you have any difficulties uploading your assessment to Learn. More information on how to get help is available in the Student Handbook.

You will not need access to a printer or dedicated scanner. Where answers are handwritten, they can be photographed or scanned with devices such as a mobile phone. Further details are available on the Preparing your answers for submission page.

I am worried about taking assessments because I don’t have a quiet place to study.

We recognise not everyone has equal access to study space and equipment at home, so limited study facilities on the campus are now open to students.

I’m in a different time zone to the UK

The 23 hour exams have been designed to allow everyone to take the exam at a time which is convenient for them.

For the short window exam, we have chosen an early morning start to make this as convenient as possible for our students who are in the UK or in time zones east of the UK, who will take the exam later in the day.

We know that there are a very small number of students, primarily those in time zones west of the UK, for whom a start time between 9 and 10 am UK time for a short window assessment is genuinely problematic. Once the exam timetable is released, we will contact those students to make suitable arrangements for them to sit their remote exams.

Do you have any tips for looking after my mental wellbeing?

We know it is a challenging time for everyone, and that you might be feeling worried or stressed. Your mental health and wellbeing are of utmost importance, so the University has made available a set of resources and guidance to help support you.

The Student Wellbeing and Inclusivity team have launched a webpage with practical tips and advice on managing your mental health during this time. Each section is available in text and video format, with topics including working and studying from home, maintaining a healthy routine and staying connected with others.

The Yellow Book (log in with your university credentials) contains a wealth of tools for students and staff – in text and audio format – to help you manage your response to stress using a range of different methods, including breathing exercises, spoken affirmations and creative activities.

There is also the LU Wellbeing app, which is free to download on any smart device and can be found on the App Store or Google Play.

I usually have rest breaks/extra time in examinations, how will this work now?

For short window (1b) remote exams, students with extra time allowed for Reasonable Adjustments will have this extra time added to the normal exam paper time, plus the additional 1 hour described above. Please note that this will only be applicable to the open book short window exams.

Likewise, where applicable, additional time for rest breaks will be added to the total time allowed for the assessment. Rest breaks are taken during formal exams in the form of 30 or 60 minutes breaks. We would advise you to take these as you need within the recommended additional time you have been allocated.

You have 23 hours to undertake long window (1a) remote exams so there is no additional allowance for extra time and rest breaks as this is built into the 23 hour period already.

I have a scribe or other human assistance during my exams, what support can I access?

Due to the change to remote assessment, we have contacted students individually to let them know the arrangements we are planning for your exams and these may be different to the adjustments that may have previously been recommended for you.   

I am usually allowed the use of a computer when taking my exams. Will this still be available to me?

As we are working remotely, it is assumed that students will have access to appropriate technology and online facilities, and we have asked students who have any concerns about this to contact us well in advance of the exam period

If you have any concerns about access to suitable IT facilities, please contact studentservices@lboro.ac.uk urgently to speak to an adviser in Student Support and Advice.

Who can I contact to discuss support or adjustments?

We would like to be able to support students in accessing scheduled assessments at the times allocated. If you need support from an adviser, then please do contact studentservices@lboro.ac.uk. If you believe the adjustments made have not proved to be adequate for your needs and feel that you have been negatively impacted, you can submit a claim for mitigating circumstances.