Academic mentoring at a distance: preparing for assessments

This page is intended to give guidance on how to support students for the upcoming assessment period and to provide inspiration for your own academic mentoring. The examples that follow were shared by colleagues in our academic mentoring community of practice, which meets fortnightly over Zoom. You can sign up for these sessions via the Atlas website.

For more information, contact Dr Akile Ahmet: a.ahmet@lse.ac.uk or Francesca Humi: f.g.humi@lse.ac.uk

 For additional resources from the Eden Centre for academic mentors and student-facing staff during the Covid-19 outbreak, please visit:

 

1. Anticipating needs

 In addition to the usual advice you give your students during assessment periods, new guidance for students provides technical advice for the 2020 Summer assessment period. The following may also be helpful guidance for them:

Thinking about how they will set up their home space to take their assessments, e.g. clearing out a desk, having a conversation with whoever they are socially distancing with about assessment-related needs, etc. Academic mentors should be aware that not all students have a safe, calm, or separate physical space for them to do so, which is addressed in section 5 of this document.

Practicing going through the processes they will be required to do with online assessments so they familiarise themselves with these processes and identify the technology they need or external applications they may have to download, e.g. combining separate documents into one, converting from Word Document into a PDF, scanning documents and uploading them – if they do not have a scanner, download an App that allows them to do so from a smartphone, etc.

 Pre-emptively accessing or downloading content they need for the assessment, especially if they live somewhere with limited or restricted internet access. Specific information on learning and teaching provisions when internet is restricted here.

 LSE LIFE also has created guidance on preparing online assessments and remain available through online appointments and workshops.

 

2. Individual Exam Adjustments and Inclusion Plans

We understand that many students who usually have additional time or adjustments are worried about the upcoming online assessment period.

24-hour assessments include extra time and breaks that students with IPs would usually be entitled to.

Specific guidance from the Academic Registrar’s Division on IEAs and IPs can be found here.

If there are concerns about IEAs, students can seek support from DWS; alternatively, staff may wish to check the situation with the Exams and Course Selection Team (exams@lse.ac.uk), Michele Sahrle, Deputy Head of SSC (M.Sahrle@lse.ac.uk), or Martyn Annis, Head of Student Services (M.Annis@lse.ac.uk).

 

3. Deferring exams

Deferring exams to August will not delay graduation. Graduation ceremonies will take place next academic year, but 3rd year students will graduate at the end of this summer and will be given the documentation, e.g. transcripts, to prove it so they can move on to post-graduate education or employment.

The In-Year Resit and Deferred Assessment Period (IRDAP) has been extended and will now be from 27 July to 14 August. Results from IRDAP are scheduled to be released on 21 September and the transcripts and certificates will be issued shortly after this (3 weeks is the norm).  However, you should bear in mind for some students who have summer commitments or other constraints, deferral may not be an option.

MSc students cannot defer into IRDAP. If PGT students defer, they will be delaying their completion until the 2020/2021 academic year.

If students are concerned about the impact of deferring on their visa, please direct them to LSE’s Covid-19 visa advice, which has a specific section on deferring assessments.

 

4. Managing expectations

While it is your role as an academic mentor to listen, reassure, and support your mentees, it is also important that you manage expectations.

You can help students by going through their assessment schedule, giving them other advice and as appropriate directing them to other members of the department or to relevant services and resources.

It might also be helpful to set up a feedback channel within your department so that student-facing staff, such as academic mentors, who receive direct input from students on particular forms of assessment can share this with course convenors, programme directors, and other relevant staff so they made aware of problems students are encountering.

You should also refer students to relevant services available from across the School, including:

Further student services are posted on the “Supporting Students” page.

We also encourage you to take the time to care for yourself. The following resources may be helpful for managing stress and anxiety in these uncertain times:

 

5. Issues around inequality

We understand that for students who are already disadvantaged or marginalised, who have difficult home situations, or who have caring duties, sitting assessments from home is particularly difficult and could potentially further disadvantage them.

The following guidance from other institutions may also be helpful: