With the transition to online teaching due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for identifying effective methods of assessment has become paramount. The methods of traditional summative in-person, paper-and-pencil exams could not be adapted to the online environment. In case of unsupervised (non-proctored) exams it was impossible to ensure students’ academic honesty. Some universities have offered remotely supervised (proctored) examinations, which has been a rare exception. The pandemic prompted teachers to innovate their assessment practice and apply formative assessment methods as an alternative to traditional summative assessment. They have started using tasks such as e-portfolios, online learning journals, blogs, online presentations, creative writing, and open-book exams, which present golden opportunities to involve students in the assessment process. This study aims to explore assessment-related experiences of language and communication teachers at higher education institutions (HEIs) during the pandemic. Our mixed-method research combines an international survey administered to university language and communication teachers (N=301) with in-depth interviews with a selection of participants (n=18) of the same background. The results provide valuable insights into the perceptions that university language and communication teachers have of effective assessment methods and pedagogical approaches engaging learners in assessment. The implications of the study advocate a growing trend toward a wider use of learner-centered assessment.

Practitioner Notes

  1. Communication and language higher education was challenged during COVID-19.
  2. Portfolios and project tasks were considered by language educators to be the most effective remote teaching strategy.
  3. Closed tests, translation activities, and role-playing were considered by language educators to be the least effective remote teaching strategy.
  4. There is a need to change communication pedagogy when moving to online, rather than replicating on-campus activity.
  5. Student-centricity should drive the migration to online content to support communication and language knowledge and skill acquisition.