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October 25, 2021

AI Ethics for Assessments in Higher Education

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AI Ethics for Assessments in Higher Education: A project example of an interdisciplinary social sciences undergraduate summer research scheme

By Isabel Fischer (Warwick Business School) and Thomas Martin (Economics)

Warwick’s Social Sciences offer students and faculty from economics, education and Warwick Business School (WBS) the opportunity to take part in an interdisciplinary summer research project to improve awareness and understanding of collaborative research work on a topic of the students’ choice. One of this summer’s group focused on AI ethics for assessments where students applied the EU Ethics Guidelines for Trustworthy AI to Higher Education Assessment. Students concluded that despite the limitations of AI, AI has the potential to make assessment processes in higher education more effective and fairer. Students suggested that AI should be embraced, but only with human oversight and agency, and with clear stakeholder communication in place.

Linden Davison, a student from the Department of Economics, commented: “Getting involved in the UG research scheme broadened my awareness beyond my single subject discipline - working in a field I wasn't aware existed when we started! It was a pleasure to work alongside students from different departments and be guided by such engaging, motivated staff alike.” Toby Pia, also from Economics, added: “Throughout my URSS experience I improved my ability to explain complex ideas in a more understandable way. I also got better in conveying a balanced argument as previously I tended to get more entrenched into one side of a debate rather than looking at it from both sides.”

At the end of the project each student produced a research poster, depicting one of the seven overarching themes of the EU Ethics Guidelines for Trustworthy AI. Below an example by Shubhangi Bhatt, a student from the Department of Education Studies, on Transparency.


AI poster (text only version)

Finally, here a link to five articles that explain how AI could be made ethical and trustworthy:

And you also might want to read here how AI can (positively) influence education generally:

August 02, 2021

Scholarly blogs part two

Scholarly blogs: An assessment tool to strengthen students’ personal brand by developing an online presence (part two)

Isabel Fischer, Associate Professor Information Systems and Management, WBS

As discussed here, as part of their assessments, WBS Digital Leadership and Design Thinking students submitted scholarly blogs as an authentic assessment in preparation for the digital workplace and to increase their online presence. Many students submitted very engaging blogs, getting readers ‘hooked’ from the start by asking and answering insightful questions. Some examples can be found here:

For further questions or comments on introducing scholarly blogs as an assessment tool please email:

March 01, 2021

How can assessment encourage and motivate children to succeed both academically and socially?

by Richard

Teachers plan lessons according to the curriculum and to suit the needs of the students; the planning of assessments should be no different. Bartlett states (2015, p.59) that “assessment of each activity should be part of the planning process and needs to be seamless and focused”. Assessments need to be relevant and authentic to serve our students' needs best. Callison (1998, p.1) claims that “Authentic assessment is an evaluation process that involves multiple forms of performance measurement reflecting the student's learning, achievement, motivation, and attitudes on instructional-proceedings. Examples of authentic assessment techniques include performance assessment, portfolios, and self-assessment”. According to Callison, in order to create authentic assessments that encourage student growth, it is first essential that we take the time to get to know our students. If we do not know our students, it will not be easy to measure what is relevant and meaningful.

Creating a positive classroom environment, where students are encouraged and collaborative relationships are formed, is the first step for making significant and appropriate assessments that inform the teacher and the student and allow for maximum growth. School assessments should assess the process, not the final task. If assessments are authentic, students will be motivated learners and take ownership and pride in their learning, thus taking opportunities to develop the 21st-century learning skills that are so important to learn. I believe that, building positive relationships and creating meaningful and authentic assessments is crucial for the success of our students. As educators, we must ensure that we take any opportunities to learn and reflect upon our practice, to do what is best for our students.

Black and Wiliam (2012, p.2) claim "assessment in education must, first and foremost, serve the purpose of supporting learning". In my teaching, I have used many diagnostic assessments in the past in order to support learning. For example, I have used running records, journals, writing prompts, KWL charts, pre-unit tests, among others. However, the best types of assessments that I have encountered have been meaningful projects that were student led. In these instances, students were collaborative and motivated to succeed because they were passionate about what they were learning. Therefore, in the process, they were academically driven. Whenever possible, I aim for formative and summative assessments to either overlap or integrate, providing it is meaningful and relevant to both myself and my students. If formative and summative assessments are integrated, the criticisms surrounding summative assessments disappear as they can be informative and can help instil confidence in students, while also meeting other objectives.

Self-assessment, in my perspective, is one of the best ways for students to truly take ownership of their learning, and this can also be integrated into formative and summative assessments. With continued effort and understanding, blending formative and summative assessments is something all educators should consider, as it will positively impact both their teaching practice and the students they teach.

We can motivate students to take control of their learning and engage in the reflection process, formative assessments will transform the assessment process from a process that only gives relevant information to teachers, to a process that also gives relevant information to students. Again, all this needs to be done through the development of positive working relationships alongside safe and comfortable learning environments so students can thrive and meet and exceed their potential.


Bartlett, J. (2015) Outstanding Assessment for the Classroom. 1st ed. London.

Black, P & Wiliam, D. (2012). Edited by: John Gardner. Assessment and Learning. 2nd Edition. Chapter 2: "Assessment for Learning in the Classroom" Publishing Company: SAGE Publications Ltd City: London.

Callison, D. (1998). Authentic Assessment. School Library Media Activities Monthly 14, no. 5. Retrieved from

February 23, 2021

Scholarly blogs: An assessment tool to strengthen students’ personal brand

Scholarly blogs: An assessment tool to strengthen students’ personal brand by developing an online presence

Isabel Fischer, Associate Professor Information Systems and Management, WBS

Graduates require an increased (professional) online presence and a ‘personal brand’ for career advancement. To encourage students to communicate opinions that matter effectively - and to strengthen their confidence both at the time of writing as well as later on when reflecting back on the blogs - I introduced this term scholarly blogs as a written assignment tool. A scholarly blog builds on the transferrable elements of academic writing and transposes these into a publishable blog.

The remainder of this post outlines how the scholarly blog could be introduced in practice as an innovative form of assessment.

To write their blogs, students are asked to draw on theories and concepts covered in the module as well as in their extended reading. Blogs should demonstrate expert knowledge and thought leadership. The generic marking criteria for assessments can apply, e.g. (1) Comprehension, (2) Analysis, (3) Critical Evaluation, (4) Academic Writing, and (5) Reflection. Students are asked to submit their blog as not yet live but ‘ready to post’, including, for example, images, hashtags and approx. time for reading. The blog should be scholarly and contributing to knowledge, i.e. ‘serious’ rather than ‘colloquial’ and reviewing existing knowledge prior to adding to knowledge. It therefore should be underpinned by extensive referencing to academic literature and to professional reports/posts/webpages. In addition, students can, but do not have to hyperlink their references.

The ideas/content that the blog conveys need to be convincing and should demonstrate critical thinking. The blog should therefore be thought-provoking rather than explaining concepts in a textbook-style-writing. The blog should be seen as written by a subject matter expert and driver for change in a specific field whose opinion matters. The language used should be formal, yet appropriate for a blog, i.e. more informal than an academic journal article. Students might want to write the blog using a first-person positioning (e.g. ‘A recent WBS module on Digital Leadership made me consider…’ or ‘I suggest…’), yet most sentences will not include any writing in the first person (e.g. ‘Miller (2021) raised the point of….’ or ‘If X than Y (see Jones (2020) and Smith (2021)’).

I communicate to students that I expect to see a clear structure in their blog which is aligned to academic writing without using the same headings. For example, students might start in larger letters with an executive summary of the blog which is similar to an abstract. They might then introduce the topic (without calling it introduction) and provide a review of existing material (without calling it literature review). Students are encouraged to structure their main body in different sections using content-related titles in bold before having their concluding thoughts. Students could then show their list of references/bibliography under a heading such as ‘Useful articles in the domain of X’ and adding hashtags to relevant areas.

For further questions or comments on introducing scholarly blogs as an assessment tool please email:

May 18, 2020

Digifest 2020 part three – Abigail Ball

Where they have been made available, the slides for the various sessions are on the link below:

Exploring digital wellbeing

Alicja Shah and Heather Price from JISC ran a workshop introducing JISC’s new definition of digital wellbeing. They got workshop participants to create digital wellbeing trees looking at the challenges organisations face in this area and what the possible solutions to those challenges might be.

Practical approaches to building the digital capability of staff and students

Lisa Gray (JISC), Elizabeth Newell (University of Nottingham) and James Kieft (Activate Learning) discussed their practical experiences of building the digital capability of their students and staff. They outlined the approaches they’ve taken and identified benefits, lessons learnt and next steps. All of these presentations centred around using the JISC Discovery Tool.

Supporting student wellbeing through our virtual learning platform

Kim Blanchard and Faz Masters both from Activate Learning introduced how they have used their VLE to support their learners on their journey at the college. They explained how they have developed key dimensions of core wellness for their students:

  • Occupational
  • Physical
  • Intellectual
  • Emotional
  • Social
  • Spiritual
  • Environmental
  • Financial

And how students can gain badges for the different topics.

Making a learning environment accessible to everyone

In this session Alan Crawford a Microsoft Learning consultant, discussed how to make content accessible in Windows 10. Points discussed included:

  • The mobile accessibility deadline on 23rd June 2021
  • Using building blocks for coding
  • Using the translator functionality – which literally translates word for word (not into meaningful phrases)
  • Eye control/narrator
  • Dictate
  • PowerPoint Designer
  • Accessibility checker
  • Office accessible templates on the web
  • Accessibility Insights on Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge
  • Automated transcripts from videos (not as accurate as you would hope)
  • Immersive reading in Office 365
  • Wellbeing in My Analytics
  • PowerPoint Coach
  • Accessibility Insights 10
  • The importance of using meaningful display names in hyperlinks

The closing keynote was cancelled.

*These notes are my own personal reflections and have not been endorsed by JISC or the individuals who presented the sessions.

May 11, 2020

Digifest 2020 part two – Abigail Ball

Where they have been made available, the slides for the various sessions are on the link below:

Digital imposter syndrome - Theresa Marriott, digital learning technologist, Bishop Grosseteste University and Kate Bridgeman, teaching enhancement officer, University of Hull

I was quite interested in this session because of the nature of my role and because I am co-lead of the WIHEA Third Space Professional Learning Circle. Many third space professionals view themselves as imposters (although interestingly not with the negative connotations that this presentation implied) so I wanted to see if the presenters had a different perspective to add to the topic. They talked about recognising the signs of digital imposter syndrome including feelings of inadequacy when faced with something new, fear of failure and avoidance. They then moved on to discuss positive steps to help overcome digital imposter syndrome including coaching, the use of a safe/neutral workspaces and drop-in and open-door policies.

Bridging the skills gap: a novel approach to delivering academic skills support

Catriona Matthews from the University of Warwick talked about her experiences of running a pilot programme in an undergraduate classics module, to bridge the student transition skills gap between school or college and university.

Leveraging tech to close student support gaps

Vygo is a mobile platform that enables peer-to-peer tutoring and mentoring for university students via what it calls ‘local tutoring marketplaces.’ Vygo has a mobile app which allows students who need support to contact other students who can provide that support. Joel Di Trapani, co-founder of Vygo and Professor Jonathan Shaw from Coventry University talked about Coventry University’s approach to student support and how they have used Vygo to enable this.

Blackboard Ally

I saw an interesting piece of software at Digifest called Blackboard Ally. This helps staff to make digital content more accessible for students. It works with Moodle; it automatically checks content against WCAG2.1 and AA rules and it generates alternative formats such as semantic HTML and audio braille. This is something that needs to be considered at an institutional level rather than at a departmental level, so I will be encouraging the central Academic Technologies team to explore this further, as I think it is important for our students, particularly in this increased time of online learning.

Digital transformation: the bear in the room – Lindsay Herbert, author of Digital Transformation

According to Lindsay, real transformation comes from tackling problems that matter, but we spend far too much time and energy on ‘elephant in the room’ type problems instead. She argues that we need to tackle ‘the bear in the room’ to create lasting innovations with wide-reaching impact.

Lindsay introduced us to the five stages of personal digital transformation (denial, fear, anger, delight and attachment) and then went on to talk about the BUILD acronym. BUILD is essentially the five stages that all successful transformations have, namely:

  1. Bridge [the gaps between your institution, its stakeholders and the changes happening around it]
  2. Uncover [hidden barriers, useful assets and needed resources to achieve the transformation]
  3. Iterate [use short cycles, test with real users, improve gradually]
  4. Leverage [use successes to access more resources, influence stakeholders and give yourself the space to scale up]
  5. Disseminate [tell people what works and why]!

*These notes are my own personal reflections and have not been endorsed by JISC or the individuals who presented the sessions.

May 05, 2020

Digifest 2020 part one – Abigail Ball

This event (which feels like an eternity ago given lockdown and all of the changes since then) took place across two days in mid-March in Birmingham. Where they have been made available, the slides for the various sessions are on the link below:

Make way for Gen Z - Jonah Stillman, co-founder, author and speaker

This was an interesting keynote on day one where the very engaging Jonah, explained the difference between his generation (Gen Z) and other generations, such as Millennials or Baby Boomers. He described how Gen Z students:

  1. are realistic
  2. are driven (competitive)
  3. suffer from FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) - which is why they always have their devices with them
  4. are Phigital (yes apparently that is a real term and means they are comfortable with a blend of physical and digital experiences)
  5. like to engage in hyper-customisation (which means they expect to be able to choose what they want to read/listen to/watch/eat and when they want to do this - think boxset binging and ordering take-aways)
  6. Do It Themselves (are independent and happy to try give things a go)
  7. are Weconomists (another new term which means they engage in a shared economy)

Whilst most of this was fairly light and quite tongue in cheek in some cases, the important point Jonah was making was that our universities are now multi-generational, and we have to accommodate these generations in our teaching practice. What works or worked for Millennials does not necessarily work for Gen Z students and we need to be much more aware of this. He did not provide answers per se, but he did raise awareness which I guess is the purpose of a keynote.

An evidence-based journey of digital transformation - Gavin McLachlan, vice-principal, chief information officer and librarian, University of Edinburgh

Due to the cancellation of the session I had planned to attend, I missed the first part of this session, but Gavin talked about the importance of digital culture and vision and how an institutional digital strategy needed to be aligned with the culture and vision of that institution. He also talked about the importance of having a digital e-safety policy and how the University of Edinburgh has developed a digital transformation programme which is composed of seven pillars:

  1. Every educator is a digital educator (very apposite)
  2. Every student is a digital student (it was almost as if he were psychic)
  3. Every University service is a digital service
  4. Every decision considers the available evidence
  5. Everyone plans and updates their digital skills (particularly liked this one as Edinburgh mandates two digital skills courses per year; controversial I know but probably necessary especially given Covid-19)
  6. Stop wondering about the future and start predicting the future (easier said than done)
  7. Hyper-connected digital economy and digital community (again much easier said than done but a good aspitation to have)

If you would like to know more, Edinburgh have contributed a case study to the JISC website.

*These notes are my own personal reflections and have not been endorsed by JISC or the individuals who presented the sessions.

December 09, 2019

How can assessment encourage & motivate children to succeed academically & socially? Kei

How can assessment encourage and motivate children to succeed both academically and socially? - Kei

Formative assessments can motivate children to succeed both academically and socially as the evidence of learning can be interpreted by both the child and the teacher to determine the child’s next steps in order for the child to reach closer to their learning goals (Harlen, 2007). For example, in Year 1 English, the ongoing learning objective is to write a sentence using Colourful Semantics. Colourful Semantics is used to teach the syntax of a sentence which includes ‘a who’ (subject), ‘a what doing’ (verb) and ‘a where’ (object). After the children complete their piece of writing on the present progressive tense. The children have access to a help mat with a Remember box that allows the children to independently check their piece of writing. The children are able to edit and improve their writing by checking the success criteria such as: sounding out phonemes, using finger spaces, capital letter and a full stop.

Black and Wiliam states that feedback to any pupil should cater to that individual child, it should offer advice for improvement and avoid comparisons with other children (Black and Wiliam, 1998). Where TN used the Remember Box to check for finger spaces, capital letters and full stops which had done independently. After this, I checked (pink pen) and circled the verb like written as lic and asked him if he remembered the split digraph (i-e) we have been learning this week. He did not remember this but I was able to scaffold the answer to him. TN edited the verb like in his writing (in green pen). I also asked TN, what he was proud of with his writing to which he replied, “I remembered everything in the Remember Box.” As I was offering TN advice on his writing, I noticed that some of the children in my writing group were also eager to receive feedback as well.

Socially, creating an environment where children can assess their work together can also be rewarding for both children involved. An example of this is when I encouraged the children to celebrate RN’s piece of writing which I had projected onto the board. I asked the children, “What can we praise RN for, in her piece of writing?”, to which the children agreed that she successfully used capital letters and finger spaces. Next, we moved on to how we can give advice on improvement. The children discussed with their talk partner and agreed that although RN used a full stop at the end of a sentence, they noticed that the full stop was not touching the line. As a result, the children were able to build a culture in the classroom to give constructive feedback and celebrate each other’s work.


BLACK, P. & WILIAM, D. 1998. Inside the Black Box: Raising Standards Through Classroom Assessment, London, GL Assessment.

Harlen, W. (2007). Assessment of learning. 1st ed. London: Saga Publications.

December 02, 2019

How can assessment encourage & motivate learners to succeed, academically & socially? – Munira

How can assessment encourage and motivate learners to succeed, academically and socially? - Munira

Assessment is broadly defined as activities that teachers and students undertake to get information that can be used analytically to alter teaching and learning (Black and Williams, 1998).

The two main forms of assessment used are summative and formative. Summative assessment (assessment of learning) aims to record learning that has taken place and formative assessment (assessment for learning) aims to identify aspects of learning as it is developing in order to find ways to deepen this learning. Assessment has a huge impact on student learning, achievement and motivation. Learners need to be clear about what they are aiming to learn as well as how to evaluate their learning for future learning to happen. Parents also need to be involved as being aware of the journey their child is taking helps to create a strong and positive home school partnership which in turn intrinsically motivates students to do better.

Innovation in education today strives to create “life long learners” equipped with skills and knowledge to lead their own journeys in the real world. However, innovations in pedagogy are unlikely to be successful if they are not accompanied by related innovation in assessment (Cizek,1997). These assessments are referred to as performance based assessments and can be oral presentations, essays, projects, experiments, collaborative tasks and portfolios/videos. In order for assessment to be meaningful, it needs to be ongoing and authentic. Teachers need to be able to identify what learners already know in order to respond to the learning needs of individual students. Feedback plays an important role in assessing learners and is directly connected to their academic success. To have the greatest impact, feedback needs to provide information not only on how the learner has done, but also the specific steps needed to progress further. It needs to be timely, detailed and specific (Hattie and Timperely, 2007).

In my early years classroom, the environment that I create is fluid and safe and I develop relationships with my learners based on trust, mutual respect and love. We understand that we are all diverse and we learn differently as we understand that making mistakes is the most powerful way of learning; based on Hattie and Timperely's (2007) research on feedback. This is the key for emotional and social success which then leads to academic success. I regularly check in with my students during a learning engagement and assess their learning with them as well as set goals. Reflection is a big part of our day and this is something we do at the end of every learning engagement so that students can share their new learning or their misconceptions.

It is our role to define what our students need to know and provide the environment they need to successfully learn and meet their learning targets in order for them to believe in their potential for success. We need to create meaningful assessment systems that provide valuable information to pinpoint gaps in learning and guide learners through next steps they need to take to eliminate the gaps. We need to involve our students in the assessment process and watch as they gain a sense of ownership and commitment to learning. Soon they become more focused, motivated and achievement oriented.


Black, P. & Wiliam, D., 2010. Inside the Black Box: Raising Standards through Classroom Assessment. Phi Delta Kappan, 92(1), pp.81–90.

Hattie, J. and Timperley, H., 2007. The power of feedback. Review of Educational Research, 77(1), pp.81?112.

November 25, 2019

How can assessment encourage & motivate learners to succeed, academically & socially? Brogan

How can assessment encourage and motivate learners to succeed, academically and socially? - Brogan

Assessment is a fundamental element of teaching and learning for both students and teachers. It allows teachers to receive feedback on how well students have understood the content that has been taught. This feedback can then be used by the teacher to assess their own teaching and reflect upon its merits and areas which could be improved. It also allows the teacher to have an insight into how students are thinking or approaching the taught material. It can highlight areas of common misconceptions or areas of confusion for students, allowing teachers to address this.

A less commonly cited benefit of assessment is its ability to motivate students socially. In my own teaching practice, I find that summative and formative testing allows me to pinpoint my students’ individual strengths and weakness, thereby aiding me when it comes to classroom differentiation. I use this information to ensure that my questions are at an appropriate level for the individual learner, allowing them the chance to contribute to the class. I believe that this approach can boost a learners’ confidence and motivation to learn, rather than embarrassing them in front of their peers. Building students’ confidence helps to promote a more student-centred environment, where students are encouraged to take part in activities such as class discussions and peer review. I feel that promoting peer review activities in my own classroom and incorporating an element of fun such as team competitions has helped promote engagement and discussion within the class. I have found for example, giving the students more autonomy over the direction of the discussion leads to the emergence of good learning and teaching opportunities; particularly when real life examples that are relevant to the learners are linked back to biology.

I have also found that asking for feedback before an assessment is a good way to help students evaluate their own learning. I ask them to give me a brief note on what topics they think they are good at, could improve more and are struggling with before they sit a summative test. I use this information to guide my revision plan. During their revision I also help them to explore different revision techniques.

I strongly agree that it is more important to praise effort over intelligence, as argued by Mueller and Dweck (1998). This point resonates with me, as I am keen to instil a growth mindset within my students and encourage and motivate them to work hard to improve (Dweck, 2015). For example, I will use formative assessment tasks as a way to give helpful comments such as action points to guide students on how they can improve, rather than focussing on the mark (Black and William 1998).


Black, P. and Wiliam, D., 1998. Assessment and classroom learning. Assessment in Education: principles, policy & practice, 5(1), pp.7-74.

Dweck, C., 2015. Carol Dweck revisits the growth mindset. Education Week, 35(5), pp.20-24.

Mueller, C.M. and Dweck, C.S., 1998. Praise for intelligence can undermine children's motivation and performance. Journal of personality and social psychology, 75(1), p.33.

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