Optimising academic writing assessment during Covid-19: The development multiple choice tests to develop writing without writing
Keywords:automatic feedback, critical thinking, formative assessment, higher-order aspects of academic writing, multiplechoice question, writing assessment
Restrictions and challenges brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic challenged higher education institutions to innovate to keep reaching teaching and learning goals. In South Africa, existing social inequalities were exacerbated by the pandemic restrictions and many students faced severe challenges in terms of access and support to aid in their academic success. Even under ‘normal’ circumstances, developing students’ academic writing skills and critical thinking ability can be challenging. It is this teaching and learning goal, along with the added contextual challenges brought on by the pandemic that prompted the intervention described in this paper. How can we teach and assess critical thinking, and higher-order aspects of academic writing, in such a resource scarce environment? In this paper, the development and results of formative, multiple choice question (MCQ)-style, online tests aimed at developing critical thinking and higher-order aspects of academic writing is discussed. The development of the test through intentional test item design and online test setup is explained whereafter statistical analysis of student participation and results are presented. These preliminary results show that students generally use learning opportunities to their advantage to learn and improve their marks. It also shows that flexible test structure and a supportive test environment can promote equality of outcomes for students, egardless of the contextual challenges they face.
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Copyright (c) 2023 Anneen Church
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