Using Zoom to Conduct “Live” Online Communication Skills Assessment

Shefaly SHOREY
Alice Lee Centre for Nursing Studies (ALCNS)

Shefaly discusses the process behind running a “live” online assessment to evaluate the communication skills of Year 1 nursing students.

Standardised patient, Andrew Chan, shows a candidate his wrist tag as the latter’s assessment began.
Photo courtesy of ALCNS

At the Alice Lee Centre for Nursing Studies (ALCNS), effective communication is taught via the core module NUR1110A “Communication and Cultural Diversity”. In February 2020, Singapore had both imported and local cases of COVID-19, and NUS had to quickly introduce measures to keep students and faculty members safe. As the module lead for NUR1110A during the semester, I had to plan and guide my team to go fully online to teach the module (this included all lectures and tutorials). A major concern for NUR1110A related to implementing the communication skills assessment while ensuring students continue to have a beneficial learning experience.

After much deliberation, I decided to run the communication skills assessment “live” online via Zoom, where students interviewed standardised patients (SPs) and were assessed based on given authentic scenarios. The uniqueness of this assessment was that all three parties involved (students, SPs, and faculty assessors) were at different locations (e.g. at home, in the office at NUS, or even overseas in Malaysia). The breakout rooms in Zoom were used for the interview sessions and concurrently we were assessing 10 students per session. In just two days, we completed the communication skills assessment for over 200 students.

Dr Shorey on the day of assessment

Organising and conducting this assessment exercise was a daunting task. However, the experience taught me valuable lessons that I would like to share with my colleagues. These are as follows:

  1. To know and ensure that the bigger purpose should always take priority, that is, learning outcomes are fulfilled and students benefit from the learning experience;
  2. Maintain constant communication with the team members, especially students;
  3. Take criticism positively, reflect on and incorporate them where necessary;
  4. Check on and maintain the team’s morale throughout the assessment exercise; and
  5. Be genuine and objective in your approach.

Please allow me to conclude this reflection with feedback from students who took the assessment in Semester 2, AY 2019/20:

“Dr Shefaly puts in a lot of effort into preparation of our assessment. Due to the COVID–19 situation, the assessment has to underwent a drastic change and Dr Shefaly made sure that everything was running smoothly for every single one of us. At the same time, she checked on us whenever she got the chance, ensuring that we were alright and not in distress from anything. She gives advice to help us through stressful times as well as tips on how to better ace this module.”

“Dr Shefaly was the only tutor and lecturer that innovated during this COVID-19 period. Her Zoom exams were applaudable. Her weekly emails ensured all students were not left out.”

“I felt that the module lead did a great job in adapting to the COVID–19 situation and implemented online practices and assessments on Zoom. Really amazing job!”


The author would like to thank all the Year One Nursing students, assessors, as well as the management and administrative, staff at ALCNS and NUS IT for their wonderful support during this assessment exercise.


Shefaly SHOREY is an Assistant Professor at the Alice Lee Centre for Nursing Studies (ALCNS). Her research programme focuses on designing psychosocial and educational interventions for a varied group of the population. She has a keen interest in using blended learning, virtual and augmented reality in nursing education. Her research studies involve national and international collaborations. Dr Shorey has received various awards for her academic and research excellence

Shefaly can be reached at


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