Accessibility navigation

EMA Programme Team wins Blackboard Catalyst Award for 'Optimising Student Experience'

colour photograph of Blackboard Catalyst Award

The outstanding achievements of the team behind our Electronic Management of Assessment (EMA) Programme have been recognised in this year’s Blackboard Catalyst Awards for Europe. Led by Dr Emma Mayhew (Academic Director) and Shelley Connor (Programme Management Consultant), they have been presented with the award for ‘Optimising Student Experience’, for their sector-leading work in electronic assessment.

Founded in 2005, the Blackboard Catalyst Awards recognise and honour innovation and excellence in the Blackboard global community of practice, where millions of educators and learners work to redefine what is possible through leveraging technology. Winners are selected by a cross-functional team of Blackboard experts, and those from across Europe were announced during Blackboard’s annual Teaching & Learning Conference in Newcastle last month. To win is a great accomplishment – especially in the category of optimising student experience, which is an ongoing priority for the University.

In their assessment, the panel took the full scope of the EMA project into account. This included looking at how the Programme was structured, and the extensive efforts made to embed key stakeholders into core teams and governance, ensuring that requirements were fully understood. The team have also collaboratively worked with Schools to understand their specific disciplinary requirements, and maximise engagement and uptake.

The Programme is delivering the University’s long-term vision for all summative coursework, where pedagogically appropriate, to be submitted, marked and feedback provided electronically. This has included working with Schools and supporting functions to agree online assessment processes, clear roles and responsibilities, and providing training and extensive supporting resources to ease the transition.

In addition, the systemisation of the entry and management of individual assessment marks within our student records systems (RISIS/SITS) has provided more efficiency, consistency and transparency of process, as well as increased data, reporting and analytics to aid student support.

A key achievement was the successful integration of Blackboard with our student records system (RISIS/SITS), to enable assessment information and marks to pass between the two systems. This is the result of extensive and innovative work between colleagues across the University and has been deemed ‘sector-leading’ – achieving a level of integration that is often referred to as the ‘holy grail’ of systems integration within the UK education sector. 

The EMA Programme has collaboratively delivered institution-wide positive change, with considerable effort within Schools and supporting functions, including staff in Support Centres, Exams, IT, the SIS team, and significantly from the CQSD Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) team. It has also impacted the wider sector: To date, presentations have been made at 18 national conferences and roundtable discussions (6 as invited speakers) on EMA institutional change design, impact, the best use of marking tools and Blackboard-SITS systems integration.

To assess the Programme’s initial work supporting this transition, it surveyed 47 academic colleagues in Early Adopter Schools, during a year of work in partnership designed to support their use of online assessment. 74% said that they preferred marking online, and 73% said that using online marking had a positive impact on their marking and feedback practices. 76% felt that marking online took the same amount of time or was quicker than marking offline. A wider survey will be conducted with Schools at the end of the academic year, but current informal feedback is consistent with the above.

More recently, the Programme also surveyed 419 of our students across a range of disciplines. When asked about their expectations regarding assessment and feedback before starting university, 74% said that they had expected most of their assessed work to be submitted, graded and returned online. 95% were in favour of the move towards online assessment and feedback, and 89% of responders said they were more satisfied with their experience of submitting assignments and receiving feedback online than if the process had used paper.

This data suggests that the provision of online assessment is increasingly meeting students’ expectations, and that the overall assessment experience is enhancing student satisfaction. The Blackboard Catalyst Award for Optimising Student Experience is an exciting and well-deserved recognition of this – congratulations to the EMA Programme Team!

Page navigation

Search Form

Main navigation