Undergraduate Students Reporting Online Assessment Challenges


  1. Fairooz Saiyara

Workshop Facilitator & Content Development Intern, Center of Excellence for Teaching and Learning, Undergrad, Dept. of English, Green University of Bangladesh  

  1. Arifa Rahman

Assistant Professor & Lead Facilitator, Center of Excellence for Teaching and Learning, Green University of Bangladesh

Online education has been crucial for millions of students for the continuation of academic activities during home quarantine, thanks to Covid19 pandemic for this new paradigm shift. However, e-learning also comes with some unturned stones that are keeping our students from making the best of their higher education.The Center of Excellence for Teaching and Learning, Green University of Bangladesh, has been organising various virtual workshops for students and teachers to support in adapting with the emerging  online teaching-learning scenario in Bangladesh. In some of the recently CETL organised workshops for students, the participants spontaneously shared the obstacles they have been facing  in online learning. The infographics of the survey data of those workshops highlight some of the major adversities from university student perspectives which undoubtedly demands prompt attention of the educationalists, lest they leave more students in despair.

Figure 1: Challenges of online assessment, where eight major challenges are evident

Nearly 70 ( figure 1) undergraduate students from different departments in a specific private university reported the challenges they face regarding online assessment in a certificate workshop for students titled "Online Assessment: Do's and Don'ts" on 26 July 2021. The poll consisted of eight options with a Likert scale of 1 to 5 starting from strongly disagree to strongly agree. To our surprise, "Mental Health Issues" was rated as one of the vital (3.4 /5) problems. Besides, the participants mentioned (rating 3.4 / 5) that they struggle with managing their time during online exams. Moreover, students' impression of the negative impact of financial problems (3.3 /5) on academic performances was visible in the voting. Students also blamed (3.3 /5) poor internet connection for their undermined performances.  Furthermore, the participants complained about having incompatible technological devices, language barrier, communication gaps in distant learning, and lack of privacy at home which cost  their concentration during online assessments.

Figure 2: Students’ Perceptions of Challenges of Viva-Voce

On top of that, in another CETL organised workshop titled "VIVA 360: Prepare and Perform" on 3 September 2021, around 120   undergraduate students ( figure 2) accounted for a few specific barriers vis-a-vis Viva Voce. Over 71% of participants confessed that their nervousness affects their performance. Moreover, 66.4% students still find it difficult to process their thoughts and express their ideas in their academic language, which indicates the lack of their mental readiness, confidence, self-efficacy, and self-esteem. For example, in the survey, 43 out of 120 undergraduates are confused about how to greet their interviewer appropriately and 32 out of 120 do not understand the questions in a Viva. Moreover, some students highlighted the lack of privacy at home, and do not consider themselves  prepared enough for most Viva sessions due to poor confidence and motivation. Network issues also seemed another major point which was mentioned by the students. 

If we merge the two survey data, it becomes visible that unsound mental health is identified as the main culprit for students' undermined performances in both written and oral assessments. Some of the underlying causes of mental health issues can be filtered if dug deeper. Students have confessed that they are struggling with their finances during the pandemic, as it left their sponsors unemployed, which also leads to several mental issues related to anxiety, uncertainty, depression, anger and stress.  Needless to say, most of us have lost family, relatives, neighbours   and friends to Covid19, the loss is yet to be recovered. The overall instability is existent in freshers, sophomores, juniors, and senior students.

During our conversation with the participants of the sessions, we came across a common battle that most of us have been fighting as students or as teachers. As our families are struggling hard to survive this pandemic, seeking a professional's help for mental well being has become a luxury that we feel guilty to enjoy. In addition, the screen of our mobile phones have drawn a barrier between us and our teachers which is beyond our ability to break single handedly. We often forget that our lecturers and classmates are more than just electronic noises, they are humans of flesh and blood who are also trying to keep their heads above water. The failure of mentally  connecting with other people is making us feel left alone in our academic lives. This frustration is costing us our confidence, self-esteem, self-efficacy, enthusiasm, productivity, and leaving us in despair. It is high time that we sat together to meet the crisis and come up with some effective initiatives to bring people closer for a healthier E-learning environment. 

In a nutshell, the grave effects of the pandemic on our students' mental health and academic performances has far reaching consequences which demands a cure from the educationalists without any further delay. 

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