Scoping the future of AI in academic assessment

Educators wish to preserve trust and the human touch at the epicentre of learning amid the ‘scary and exciting’ dawn of AI

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1 Jul 2024
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A workshop held in partnership with Inspera at the 2024 THE Digital Universities UK event explored educators’ perceptions of AI and what they hope to gain from the technology. The workshop – hosted by Inspera’s Brent Mundy, chief product officer, and Ishan Kolhatkar, global client evangelist – invited academics from UK higher education institutions to discuss strategies for designing effective and engaging assessments in the age of AI.

When Inspera considers assessment solutions that can incorporate AI, its focus on is what educators want to achieve in this new era of technological advancement. “We want to hear what you want technology to do because there’s no point in us building things that you’re not going to use,” Kolhatkar said. 

Inspera takes a pedagogy-first approach and maintains that educators shouldn’t be forced into using technology. The best way for an organisation to learn about the tools that are available and suitable for its unique needs is by inviting firms such as Inspera to have an open conversation about what can be achieved through collaboration, said Kolhatkar. Hands-on experience often changes reticent mindsets, he added, referring to faculty members who were reluctant to incorporate new technological tools into their assessment processes. “When they actually got to try something, they were converted,” he said.

The workshop’s participants discussed their perceptions and attitudes to incorporating AI in assessment and learning management. Initial AI sentiment checks during the workshop spanned from “exciting” to “Wild West” and “scary”. Mundy sympathised with the audience, acknowledging that the latest technological developments, such as AI, were unforeseen. “It’s all of these things at the same time. This has been foisted upon us and we are all making sense of it and navigating it together,” he said. 

Mundy and Kolhatkar gauged the audience’s willingness to incorporate AI into the assessment process and diary management. The participants’ key concern was based on trust. One participant expressed surprise that people were most wary of issues around machine learning more than generative AI. 

Other applications for AI that were discussed included using AI to assist in grading prose, generating feedback on assessment rubrics or marking criteria, creating questions for a retake candidate based on their previous performance and using AI to analyse data on assessment questions and student responses.

Inspera’s approach to AI is based on the empowerment of educators and learners. Mundy said that making sure there is more time for meaningful interactions in teaching, learning and assessment is key. “We need to think about purposeful workflows for the jobs that we do from an academic perspective and how we can enable this much better than we do today,” he said.

Inspera strives to assess candidates in a way that optimises student engagement, Kolhathar said. “We have helped institutions around the world make their assessments flexible while retaining integrity.”

The speakers:

  • Ishan Kolhatkar, global client evangelist, Inspera
  • Brent Mundy, chief product officer, Inspera

Find out more about Inspera.

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