Re-examining Teaching and Learning in Challenging Situations: What Are Our Assessment Options?

Adrian LEE
Centre for Development of Teaching and Learning

Chair of the GRO-CDTL Webinar Series on 11 June 2020, Adrian provides an overview of the key focus of the webinar attended by more than 300 faculty members from ASEAN higher education institutions.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected us all deeply, both personally and professionally. Professionally in the context of education, it has undoubtedly forced a change in our relationship with technology. Not least, many of us are now all familiar with the affordances and vagaries of using Zoom.

Whenever I think about technology, I am reminded of a line written by Linda Price and Adrian Kirkwood “that it is not the technology per se that changes learning and teaching but the pedagogical advantage we make of its use” (Price & Kirkwood, 2008, p. 83). However, what about assessment? Does the current situation require us to employ technology to assess our students?

I think that in order to understand the challenge of assessment in the current situation, first we need to understand that we are currently engaged in what might be best described as course translation, that is, how can we bend the plan of what we intend to do to the situation with which we are currently facing? Assessment will also need to bend. Students cannot and should not fail a course because of this pandemic. However, how well do we know the circumstances within which our students are trying to engage in the evolving situation? Some may have lost jobs upon which they were relying. Others may now have additional responsibilities within the home. Many may not have access to the internet within their homes. Can we modify our assessment strategies to ensure that no student is excluded?

We may have intended for our students to be assessed with a final examination conducted in an assessment hall that would be closely invigilated. Can such synchronous assessment techniques be replicated remotely? How can we maintain assessment integrity? Should we consider using asynchronous assessment strategies, such as open-book take-home examinations?

These were the questions that helped frame an online discussion that took place on 11 June 2020. The Centre for Development of Teaching and Learning (CDTL), in partnership with the Global Relations Office (GRO), gathered a panel of experts from leading ASEAN universities to share their knowledge and experience. These experts were Dr Manneke Budiman from Universitas Indonesia, Dr Mark Gan from National University of Singapore, Dr Jessada Salathong from Chulalongkorn University, and A/Prof Farrah Dina Yusop from University of Malaya. Check out their blog posts in the next few issues of this blog where they describe the challenges of assessing students in their own unique contexts. 

Adrian LEE is Deputy Director (Professional Development) at CDTL, as well as a faculty member of the Department of Chemistry. His interests in education are wide-ranging and include technology-enhanced learning, especially blended learning, interdisciplinary education, and student living-learning experiences. In academic development, Adrian looks to build programmes within a collegial culture and furthering conversations that support reflective practice.

Adrian can be reached at


Price, L., & Kirkwood, A. (2008). Technology in the United Kingdom’s higher education context. In S. Scott, & K. C. Dixon (Eds.), The Globalised University: Trends and Challenges in Teaching and Learning (pp. 83-113). Perth: Black Swan Press.