The (dis)continuities of digital transformation in flexible assessment practice: educator perspectives on what matters most

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The swift proliferation of digital learning technologies has meant that university educators have had to adapt to the demands of changing patterns of work and student learning, with the enactment of academic practice occurring across a wide range of inter-connected, digital, and physical environments. This paper captures digital change work undertaken by teaching staff on six different undergraduate programmes at a post-92 university in the North-East of England that has prioritised and supported the design and implementation of flexible assessment arrangements. This strategic work has encouraged teaching staff to rethink how the significant resources devoted to assessment might be reconfigured (even reimagined) to support student learning across different modes of delivery. Focus has necessarily shifted onto the interplay between teaching practices and processes of digital transformation and notions of accessibility, flexibility and students partnering with faculty in real-time to provide authentic assessment solutions.

Drawing on the experiences of academic teaching staff in Chemical Engineering, Interior Design, Business Management, Policing, Social Work, Education Studies, and Paramedics the paper draws out key insights, challenges, and opportunities for practice innovations, before discussing the pressing considerations for developing and implementing attempts at flexible assessment design. The paper adopts an explicit ‘practice focus’ to negate and challenge the common place view of digital tools and technologies as a separate domain in assessment design. The primary challenge, it will be argued, is one of understanding and adapting a wider repertoire of approaches and practices in assessment to encompass new and multiple contexts that are no longer experienced as separate, virtual, or otherwise in students’ learning experiences. In response, a post-digital perspective is adopted as a means of framing how teaching staff might make judgements, not about assessment in general, but about the flexibility in and of combinations and configurations of diverse practice elements that make up the student assessment experience.
Original languageEnglish
JournalStudies in Technology Enhanced Learning
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 6 Feb 2023


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