Testing During the Pandemic

It has been over a month since we were on lockdown and teaching online. I have already conducted four tests using my Pustułka app just like we had done before the lockdown. My subjective impression is that my students have not outperformed themselves as compared to tests they had written before the pandemic. Their individual results are very similar.

However, in the case of „take-home” tests which students could do on their own just for revision purposes some results have been much better than those of the tests invigilated by me in class.

I have asked my students a question in an online survey conducted among my 63 students whether tests administered now test their knowledge the same as the tests we had had in computers labs. Over a half of students agreed (35%) or strongly agreed (23%), about a third (32%) remained neutral, and only one out of seven students disagreed (8%) or strongly disagreed (6%).

The conclusion is, therefore, that we can proceed with administering online written tests to evaluate students’ performance while teaching them online using distance learning methods. My recommendation is to set a very tight time limit and either use test questions such as multiple choice, cloze test, true/false or longer pieces of writing such as essays, reports, letters, longer paraphrases, etc. Short answer questions like definitions, synonyms, translations, etc. are unfortunately the easiest to copy from dictionaries and websites.

How to Anonymize Students

At the end of May 2018 the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) a regulation on data protection and privacy for all individuals within the European Union came into force. More or less around that time I was informed by the authorities of my university that now my students cannot use their names and surnames or even their student numbers when they do tests online in e.g. my testing software pustulka.edu.pl.

Some teachers consider it as a nuisance and are afraid to start doing that because they say it takes time and is messy. Dear teachers, don’t be so easily discouraged.

Below I would like to show a few possible ways of anonymizing students for tests.

  1. You can generate students’ IDs online as there are numerous websites generating nicks, logins, e.g. http://www.name-generator.org/. After generating them, distribute them among your students, tell them to remember them and use each time they enroll at the test.
  2. You can ask your students to create their IDs themselves. You can tell them that you want these to be e.g. adjectives beginning with a specific letter. In this way you will distinguish between your groups quickly by letters. You may wish students to add a year in which they began their studies to the word or some other numbers indicating the group number or the year of studies, anything that will let you quickly identify which group the person belongs to, e.g. assymetric2019 or asleep1/2018. There are websites which can help you and your students generate adjectives beginning with a specific letter, e.g. http://adjectivesstarting.com/with-a/
  3. You can ask your students to create their IDs themselves but according to a special pattern: two first letters of their surname + two first letters of their name + year in which they began their studies = e.g. lual2018 (for Aleksandra Łuczak). This solution is practical as the students’ ids will be grouped alphabetically in the same, or almost the same, order the surnames.

My suggestion is to generate or create the IDs once and use the same ones throughout the course. You will quickly learn them by heart and some of them can really become nice nicks of you students.