Language Assessment in COVID-19

Spring 2021 was a transformative semester in teaching and learning. My project incorporates best practices for digital assessment of written and oral assignments. Last semester, COVID-19 presented challenges in traditional classroom assessment and also offered possibilities for innovation and creativity. As an alternative to in-class writing assignments, I explored multiple digital platforms to further develop skills in speaking, reading, and writing in Spanish. The goal of the project was to integrate a new digital platform for written expression and oral communication in the target language. 

This semester, students were assigned a close-notebook composition that required the knowledge of various grammar structures and vocabulary concepts learned throughout the course. The close-notebook written assignment was submitted via Moodle and reviewed electronically. However, due to the digital form of the activity, the primary challenge was to integrate a program that helped preserve the academic integrity of the assignment. After many trial and error attempts and with the valuable help of Nick Plank, we succeeded in integrating a virtual assignment with a lockdown feature in the Moodle course platform. The activity was assigned in two sections of Spanish 102. In the first section, the screen displayed an error message blocking the link to the assignment. This error occurred due to an option in settings that required the assignment to be embedded in the Moodle quiz activity. After fixing the technological glitch, the second section of Spanish 102 successfully completed and submitted the assignment digitally. 

SPAN 102E – Used with permission

The assignment required the Respondus Lockdown Browser for completion and also adopted the Google Document template for the writing process. The inclusion of the lockdown browser supports preserving the academic integrity of assignments by monitoring the test environment. Therefore, the process allows for more flexibility in the time and space in which the project is completed. In addition, the incorporation of the Google Document allows for the blend of commonly used format styles and editing tools. The latter source was particularly important in the process of reviewing and editing assignments with feedback. 

In the digital assignment, students were able to work on their writing skills and further develop oral proficiency by presenting their essays. After receiving comments and revisions, students submitted electronic corrections of their work. The second part of the assignment involved an oral presentation that further developed the grammar structures learned in the course. The presentation expanded on the written assessment to include pronunciation, fluency and digital resources. The oral component took form in-person and virtually, allowing for others to have access to the recordings.  

The written assignment and oral presentation allowed students to reflect on the writing process and engage in a thoughtful and productive dialog. Moreover, the digital assignment encouraged students to write an analytical essay, critically reflect on the writing process, and develop critical thinking skills. By integrating an alternative digital approach to assessment, I hope to further develop students’ capacity to form evaluative judgments about their own work. In this project, I offered immediate feedback, contributed to preserving academic integrity, shared transparent course objectives and goals, and limited physical contact due to COVID 19. In the future, I plan to continue integrating digital resources for written and oral assignments. 

Thanks to the Tech Bar Team, Academic Technologies and Susan Ashley for their support in the project. 

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