The Coronavirus Assessment Collection (Sambell and Brown 2020/2021)

Here you can find Sally Brown and Kay Sambell’s guidance notes on post-pandemic assessment issues: all freely available to download and use below. Do contact us if you’d like to know more about how to put the ideas into practice! Email:Kay or

In early March 2020 Sally Brown and I explored what kinds of alternative assessments might be used by universities when it became clear that face-to-face attendance for exams and other assessments wasn’t going to possible due to the pandemic. We continued to create a series of guidance notes as the situation developed. They can all be found collected below. They are presented chronologically, starting at the outset of the emergency campus closures.

March 13th 2020: Coronavirus Contingency: exploring alternatives to f2f assessments. Download it here Alternatives to onsite assessment in emergency times

April 2nd 2020: 50 Tips for Alternatives to Onsite Exams . Download here 50 Tips for replacing onsite exams in emergency times

June 1st 2020: The Changing Landscape of Assessment: building bridges to the future Download The Changing Landscape of Assessment (including a table of the pros and cons of different alternatives) here.

August 17th 2020 Writing Better Assessments in The Post-Covid Era: approaches to good task design Here we offer suggestions for how we can design more authentic assessments when we are replacing traditional exams long term. It can seem hard work to create new assignments from scratch that are authentic, challenging and engaging for students, so we offer a task generator which helps you to break down your assessment into its component elements to make the job easier to tackle. Download our pragmatic six-step Task Generator to help you with the design process of Writing More Authentic Assignments here.

August 21st 2020 Changing Assessment for Good: a Major Opportunity for Educational Developers We contributed to SEDA’s collection of work on post-covid learning, teaching and assessment in HE, proposing that the current Covid crisis has provided opportunities for Educational and Academic Developers to undertake radical change management to improve assessment long-term. Download Changing Assessment for Good

19th March 2021: A compendium of examples of authentic assessment in practice from diverse disciplines. (Volume 1)

In our paper of 17th August, we described a systematic approach to developing authentic assignments to replace more traditional or essay-based approaches. The compendium provides a collection of 16 detailed examples to illustrate our approach. Download it here: Authentic assessment Compendium One

3rd May 2021. A further Compendium of authentic assessment examples from diverse disciplines (Volume 2) .This additional compendium includes further examples – thanks to all our contributors. Download it here:- Authentic Assessment Compendium Two.

9th June 2021. ‘Mechanics’ Tales’ by Dr G Zurlo.Here we are delighted to share an innovative approach to enhance authenticity in the domain of mathematics education by Dr. G Zurlo, National University of Galway, Ireland. Download Mechanics Tales You can contact him directly at

August 13th 2021. A third Compendium of more authentic assessment examples from a range of disciplines.  As always, we are grateful to our brilliant contributors from a range of disciplines for providing examples and allowing us to use their practice to exemplify our six-step approach. Download it here:- Authentic Assessment Compendium Three

17th November 2021. A fourth Compendium of authentic assessment examples from a range of disciplines in Hong Kong Education University and Hong Kong Baptist University. Thanks to all contributors Download it here:- 8. Compendium-4-HKEdU and HKBU


We created our Covid Collection in the spirit of collegiality in a time of crisis. Please regard these as Open Resources that you are free to modify and share: it would probably be of most value to you if you cut and paste the bits that are useful, discard the bits that are not useful, customize your examples where you use different platforms from the ones we mention, add links to local specific guidance, and add in links to your own university’s regulations plus any specific contingency plans you have made. If you have any suggestions about how to improve them further, please do let one of us know, and if you use them, it would be kind if you acknowledge us.

Background to the development of our collection

In March 2020, universities worldwide were having to close their doors and staff were required to move at breakneck speed to remote working due to the pandemic. We produced our first contingency guidance note in mid March to support the rapid switch, with a specific focus on assessment issues, which we knew were going to prove challenging. Following our initial Coronavirus Contingency post Sally and I were subsequently both asked by colleagues for advice on how to move from having invigilated on-site exams to having students sit written assessments online from home, so we put together a second informal guide on this topic.

Throughout May 2020 we worked on a new paper calledThe Changing Landscapes of Assessment’ in which we suggest that some of the alternatives that universities had put in place for the coronavirus  contingency might be made more permanent, and that we should use this as an opportunity to make some radical and substantial reconfigurations to assessment in the future to make it more authentic. A particular feature is the comparison table where we explore the pros and cons of diverse assessments that can be done virtually.

Given the lockdowns and the need for social distancing during the pandemic we drafted most of our outputs while meeting outdoors in our gardens! If you download the short video (link below photo), which we initially were asked to make in summer 2021 to launch an global assessment ‘torchbearers’ event organised by Advance HE, you can see us talking about our Covid Collection while in Sally’s garden. It was certainly not always so warm and sunny!

Download a mov file here to See and hear Kay and Sally talking about their Covid collection

We have jointly presented keynotes and workshops on various aspects of the collection in a range of universities and organisations across and beyond the UK. Please contact one of us if you’d like us to help you put some of these ideas into practice, by dropping an email to either or

On Sept 1st 2021 Sally and I ran a webinar for the AHE Network, brilliantly hosted by Mathew Hillier in the Transforming Assessment series. Attendance was fabulous, from all around the world, and participation terrifically lively, thanks to everyone’s enthusiasm! The session was recorded in Bb Collaborate and you can hear it, and see chat log and further links here

In August 2021 we were delighted to work again with colleagues from the Advanced Study Institute at events organised by The Education University of Hong Kong and Hong Kong Baptist University. We initially developed the Authentic Assessment Task generator for this group last year, and we are delighted to see the impact it is having!

In July 2020 we co-presented with colleagues from the university of Padua’s PAFIR group to the IUT online conference. Anna Serbati and Valentina Grion went on to use our Coronavirus Collection as the basis for their work in Italy, selecting the most relevant aspects for the Italian context and augmenting it with their expert insights in e-Learning. The joint output, in Italian, will inform the Italian context: in a paper entitled: Valutazione e feedback in DAD in tempo di emergenza: strategie d’azione nei contesti universitari and will be published in an open access miscellaneous volume devoted to online teaching and assessment. Download the paper here Grion Serbati Sambell and Brown 2020  

 In August 2020 Sally and I gave a presentation on Making Assessment Future Fit to the Enterprise Educators Conference (Online): you can view the recording (#2) from the conference playlist :