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Diversifying End of Module Assessment Project Options on a Level 3 Classical Studies Module: Benefits and Challenges for students and lecturers

posted on 2024-06-27, 12:48 authored by Astrid VoigtAstrid Voigt, Emma Bridges


The purpose of this project is to assess the benefits and record the challenges of diversifying End of Module Assessment (EMA), as it is being introduced for the October 2022 presentation of a new Classical Studies Level 3 module at the Open University. Depending on the results of this assessment, we hope that, through the dissemination of our findings, we will be able to promote and enable the diversification of assessment elsewhere at the OU and in the wider Higher Education community. Diversifying assessment aims at making assessment inclusive by affording ‘all students equitable opportunities to succeed and demonstrate strengths relevant to their studies’ (e.g. Hong-Meng Tai et al. (2022), 1). Diverse assessment can be achieved by designing assessment which takes new and different formats and which can then be offered to students alongside more traditional or familiar formats (O’Neil and Padden (2022)). Such an approach to assessment can bring about significant benefits in that it allows students to express their learning in different ways and, conversely, support the development of a broader range of skills. It can also have the benefit of increasing student engagement and motivation by designing more authentic assessment tasks (Warwick Academic Development Centre (2019)). Authentic assessment, in itself, can facilitate inclusion when it invites students to engage with the task set on a very personal level or when it makes the task more meaningful by setting it in a professional or other real-world scenario (e.g. Tai et al. (2022), 8-9). Diversifying assessment can, however, also present challenges. Developing innovative assessment tasks is dependent on resources (O’Neill and Padden (2022)), most importantly staff time, but also the technology required to carry out the new assessment task. Importantly, too, the innovative assessment task needs to be equivalent to the more traditional task (O’Neill (2017); Morris (2019)) in terms of, for example, alignment to learning outcomes and student workload. Finally, teaching staff and students need to receive appropriate guidance and support for approaching the task in practice.

Project aims:

The primary aim of the proposed project is to evaluate the diversification of the EMA on A350, and in particular the innovative assessment option, with special regard to its potential for making assessment inclusive and addressing the institutional priorities mentioned above. A subsidiary aim is to evaluate the current assessment design and provision of support for students on A350 in order to be able to make adjustments as necessary. Finally, this project aims to explore problems encountered in the diversification of the EMA and their solutions, with the aim of supporting communities of educators – particularly those working in arts and humanities disciplines – at the OU and beyond. As such, the proposed project aims to answer the following set of questions:

How did students experience the diversification of the EMA options on A350?

  • To what extent does A350 EMA Option A (curating a one-room exhibition) engage the different experiences that students bring to their studies?
  • What are the demographic data of each cohort of students choosing Option A or Option B?
  • How did students perform in the two different EMA options?
  • In the views of students, staff, and external examiner, do the assessment options on A350 offer students a fair choice (with regard to commensurability of workload and connection with the module learning outcomes)?
  • What can be learnt from the experiences of staff that might be useful for other educational practitioners, not only within the discipline of Classical Studies and the OU, but also practitioners in other disciplines and outside the OU?

Connection to previous scholarship:

The present project follows on from the pilot which the project team conducted in June 2021 (Bridges and Voigt (2022)). The 2021 pilot was an exploratory tool which enabled the team to test and refine the design of the innovative assessment option as part of the module production process. Its findings informed the eventual assessment design and grading criteria, as well as the EMA-related guidance provided to tutors and students. The findings of the pilot suggested that the student participants perceived the task as authentic and meaningful and provided evidence that it has strong potential to address the institutional priorities as mentioned above. However, the pilot had several limitations as it engaged only a small number of students and the task was a reduced version of the eventual A350 EMA. Also, as the students involved were volunteers, they were perhaps more likely to respond positively. Therefore, further assessment of the benefits and challenges of the format is necessary after the first presentation of A350. This will provide evidence from students who, having actually studied the module, have proactively chosen the innovative assessment option instead of the more traditional one. Impact and dissemination Diversifying assessment has been the focus of recent work of the Arts & Humanities Board of Studies at the OU. More widely it addresses the EDI agenda of the university and the HE Sector in the UK. The results of the proposed project will, therefore, be of interest to colleagues within the School of Arts & Humanities in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the OU and beyond.

Outside the OU, the findings of this project will be of interest especially to the wider community of HE educators in Classical Studies, in particular at the institutions represented by the Council of University Classical Departments (CUCD), but also to HE educators in other disciplines, for example Archaeology, Art History, and Museum Studies. In particular, considering the amount of time and effort needed to devise and implement innovative assessment practice, it will be helpful for any department wanting to adopt a similar type of assessment to find out not only how students responded but also how the department, the module team and the Associate Lecturers who directly support the students with their studies during the live presentation dealt with the challenges associated with offering an innovative assessment option. We also intend, therefore, to gather feedback from members of the A350 module presentation and production teams, and the tutors teaching on the module, in order to understand what they perceive as the benefits and challenges of the new assessment and, with regard to the latter, especially how and how successfully these challenges were addressed.


Bridges, E. and Voigt, A. (2022): Diversifying End of Module Assessment Project Options on a Level 3 Classical Studies Module. A pilot study to evaluate pedagogic strategies and assess benefits and challenges. Final Report for FASSTEST. [Accessed 28 October 2022]

Deacy, S. (2015): Embedding equality and diversity in the curriculum: a classics practitioner’s guide. The Higher Education Academy Scotland. FASS (2021): Assessment and Tuition Framework. [Microsoft Word – FASSTC-2018-03-07_Tuition-and-Assessment ( Accessed 31 October 2022]

Fung. D. (2017): A Connected Curriculum for Higher Education. London: UCL Press.

Hong-Meng Tai, J., Dollinger, M., Ajjawi, R., Jorre de St Jorre. T, Krattli, S., McCarthy, D. Prezioso, D. (2022): ‘Designing assessment for inclusion: an exploration of diverse students’ assessment experiences’, in Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 47.7. DOI: 10.1080/02602938.2022.2082373

Morris, C., Milton, E., Goldstone, R. (2019): ‘Case study: suggesting choice: inclusive assessment processes’, Higher Education Pedagogies 4:1, 435-447, DOI: 10.1080/23752696.2019.1669479

O’Neill, G. (2017): ‘It’s not fair! Students and staff views on the equity of the procedures and outcomes of students’ choice of assessment methods’, Irish Educational Studies 36:2, 221-236, DOI: 10.1080/03323315.2017.1324805

O’Neil, G. and Padden, L. (2022): ‘Diversifying assessment methods: Barriers, benefits and enablers, Innovations’ in Education and Teaching International 59:4, 398-409, DOI: 10.1080/14703297.2021.1880462

Warwick Academic Development Centre (2019): ‘Diversifying Assessment’ [ Accessed 25 October 2022.]

Tai, J., Ajjawi, R., Bearman, M., Boud, D., Dawson, P., Jorre de St Jorre,T. (2022): ‘Assessment for inclusion: rethinking contemporary strategies in assessment design’, Higher Education Research & Development Vol. ahead-of-print DOI: 10.1080/07294360.2022.2057451





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