Rethinking assessment strategies in the age of artificial intelligence (AI)

Rethinking assessment strategies in the age of artificial intelligence (AI)

With the rise of text generative AI tools, we need to re-evaluate traditional assessment methods and develop strategies to prevent the misuse of AI tools.

Conventional assessment strategies like exams, essays and multiple-choice questions have traditionally been the fundamental means of assessing students’ academic performance (Mislevy et al., 2012). However, the rise of text generative artificial intelligence tools like ChatGPT requires re-evaluating of these traditional assessment methods in higher education. While technology can significantly enhance the learning process, it also introduces the risk of undermining academic integrity. Universities must grapple with this challenge by developing strategies to prevent the misuse of AI tools. Recent studies have indicated a shift toward continuous, authentic, and adaptive assessments (Swiecki et al., 2022).

Diverse students needs

Additionally, when reconsidering assessment methods, it is vital to consider the diverse needs of neurodivergent students. Neurodiversity, as defined by the New Zealand Ministry of Education, encompasses a wide range of conditions, including dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, autism spectrum disorder, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, trauma-related disorders, and auditory-visual processing disorders. This term covers learning needs across a spectrum of intensity, including those who are 'twice-exceptional,' meaning they exhibit more than one identifiable set of symptoms (Mirfin-Veitch & Jalo, 2020).

However, it's essential to avoid making broad assumptions about the types of assessments suitable for specific groups of learners. The goal is to provide a diversified range of assessment types throughout a program of study that caters to all students' needs, irrespective of their disabilities (Hamilton & Petty, 2023). The strategies presented here broadly meet these needs, but some of the examples might appear daunting or even opaque to individual neurodivergent students, particularly those with challenges around central coherence, executive function, or social anxiety. To address this, additional examples have been added where required. In the transition to practice, teaching staff will be offered advice or professional development on structuring and explaining the assessment tasks appropriately.


Here are our top 10 strategies for redesigning assessment tasks to mitigate the misuse of generative AI tools, complete with practical examples. To optimise the educational benefits of these strategies, we have aligned these with relevant Charles Sturt policies and guidelines.

Shift the focus from grades to learning outcomes. Encourage students to view assessments as opportunities for growth rather than just a means to achieve high scores (Richardson, 2023).


This process-centred approach focuses on assessing students' actions and tactics throughout their learning journey, which helps improve critical thinking and self-reflection skills.

Practice examples

  • Developing a group project: Students work on writing regular progress reports, conducting regular meetings with mentors/tutors and then preparing for the final presentation. See this Guide to Group Work from UNSW.
  • Developing a learning journal: Students record their learning experience in a subject and how they achieved subject learning outcomes through various learning activities and assessment tasks. The new LMS (Brightspace) does not offer a dedicated blog tool, but it still provides journaling options through Private Discussions. Look at this Tips for Learning Journals to learn more.
    • Individuals with social anxieties may find journaling exercises challenging, especially with understanding and/or expressing feelings. It is helpful to include some more linear prompts for more structured thinkers. This example is from McMahon-Coleman, K., & Draisma, K. (2016), available through Charles Sturt University library.

      Linear prompts for structured thinkers

Design assessments that require students to apply their knowledge to contemporary real-world scenarios or problems.


Authentic assessments are more meaningful to students and demonstrate their ability to apply knowledge in practical situations. Authentic assessments are less susceptible to cheating because they test students' understanding rather than their ability to look up answers (Sotiriadou et al., 2020).

To learn more about developing authentic assessments, see these resources:

Practical examples

  • Historical documentary: Students create a documentary film or podcast that explores a historical event, period, or figure. They must research, analyse primary and secondary sources, and present their findings. Check out Beyond essays and exams for some innovative alternative assessment strategies.
    • Changing assessments may require changes to the teaching and learning strategies to ensure students are prepared to meet the assessment task requirements. For example, creating a documentary is a very different set of skills to writing an essay. Therefore, video and technology skills would need to be developed or supported through the learning of the subject to ensure students have the skills to undertake the assessment.
  • Business plan: Students develop a comprehensive business plan for a local startup, including market research, financial projections, marketing strategies, and an executive summary. See Writing a business plan on the Business Queensland website.
  • Engineering design project: Students design and build a functional engineering project, such as a bridge, a robot, or a sustainable energy system, and present their design process and results. Look at this undergraduate engineering course from ANU for some innovative project ideas.
  • Journalism news story: Students research and write a news story on a current event, incorporating interviews, fact-checking, and ethical reporting practices. Check out this news literacy collection of learning and teaching resources.
  • Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping project: Students use GIS software to create maps that analyse and visualise spatial data related to a geographic issue or question. This website highlights the top ten educational benefits of using GIS.
  • Chemistry: Ask students to develop an eco-friendly alternative to a commonly used chemical solvent in the industry where they would need to propose a research plan outlining the synthesis and testing of potential eco-friendly solvents, emphasising safety, environmental impact, and cost-effectiveness. See this article on green chemistry in undergraduate organic laboratories.

Design assessment tasks or questions that encourage critical thinking and problem-solving. Ask students to analyse information, draw connections, evaluate arguments, or propose solutions (Saroyan, 2022).


Encourage critical thinking and problem-solving, which reduce the misuse of generative AI tools.

Practice examples

  • Argument analysis: Ask students to evaluate arguments or essays by identifying strengths and weaknesses in the reasoning, evidence, and logic presented. They should be able to articulate why they agree or disagree with the argument. Check out how to use arguments to develop critical thinking skills at Monash University.
  • Case-based assessments: Present real or hypothetical cases that require students to analyse complex situations, make decisions, and defend their choices. This approach is common in fields like business, law, and medicine. See Assessment by Case Studies and Scenarios from UNSW.
  • Debate or discussion: Organise debates or group discussions where students must defend their positions using well-reasoned arguments. Require them to engage with counterarguments and evidence. See Discussion and Debate from Edith Cowan University.
  • Role-playing and simulations: Engage students in role-playing exercises or simulations where they must think critically to navigate complex situations, such as diplomatic negotiations or business scenarios. For more examples, see Assessing with Role Plays and Simulations from UNSW.

Create assessments with unique parameters for each student. This could involve student input or choice in developing the assessment topics.


This will allow students to be actively involved in the assessment process and help them learn more about assessment tasks and understand its importance in their own learning (Keppel, 2014).

Practice examples

  • Art portfolio review: Students curate and present a portfolio of their artwork, discussing their artistic process, influences, and the thematic development of their work. Check out these articles:
  • Community needs assessment: Students conduct a community needs assessment, identify and analyse their local community's social or health issues, and propose potential solutions. Here’s an example of conducting a community needs analysis.
  • Literary analysis essay: Students select a novel, short story, or poem and analyse it, discussing themes, character development, symbolism, and literary techniques. Check out this step by step guide on how to write a literary analysis essay. Monash University has developed this student facing resource Principles for Writing a Literary Studies Essay which provides eight principles and common mistakes students make.

Consider conducting live or recorded interviews or oral presentations as assessments.


This makes it difficult for students to use external resources without being detected.

Practice examples

  • Language immersion task: Students engage in a real conversation or perform a role-play scenario in the target language. They demonstrate their speaking and listening skills and record this conversation for final submission.
  • Multimedia presentation: Students create a multimedia presentation (e.g., a video or a website) on a topic of their choice, integrating research, visuals, and effective communication skills. Look at these useful tips for creating multimedia presentations.
    • To support neurodivergent students in your class, provide them with the option to self-select the recorded presentation option if that suits them.
  • Interactive oral assessment (IOA): is an authentic assessment approach that involves a genuine, unscripted conversation between an assessor and a student(s) framed around a workplace scenario (Sotiriadou et al., 2020). It provides an alternative to physical or online written or quiz-type exams. Griffith University has developed a useful resource on IOAs.

Additional advice

Oral assessments may provide their own unique set of challenges for neurodivergent students as they would need to deal with concurrent demands on cognitive, social and emotional processing (Hand, 2023) while assessing and maintaining a tone appropriate to the genre “without becoming inappropriately or overly formal, or worse, familiar” (McMahon-Coleman & Draisma, 2016). There is also some research about appropriately supporting neurodivergent students attempting viva voce. One study argued for more preparation with this cohort—explaining the scenarios, who will do what, and what kinds of questions are likely—as well as spending time considering examiners who were likely to take a compassionate approach (Sandiland, MacLeod, Hall, & Chown, 2022). This suggests that the advice around execution seems more important than the type of assessment.

Focus on questions that require students to apply knowledge in unique ways. This enquiry-based learning approach focuses on investigation and problem-solving (Deignan, 2009).


This makes it harder for students to find pre-written answers online or using text generative AI tools such as ChatGPT.

Practice examples

  • Finance: Provide students with a scenario where they act like an investment analyst evaluating two investment opportunities: stocks and bonds. Ask them to research historical financial data and market trends before analysing the risk and return associated with both investment options. Ask them to provide a recommendation based on their analysis.
  • Biology: Students act like a team of conservation biologists tasked with preserving a threatened species in a specific habitat. The area faces environmental challenges. Ask them to develop a conservation plan that includes habitat restoration strategies, population monitoring, and community engagement initiatives, accounting for ecological factors and sustainability.

Incorporate peer evaluations where students assess each other's work.


This can help deter cheating, as students are less likely to cheat when assessing their peers' work. Peer assessment encourages active learning and students gain a deeper understanding of the subject matter and learning objectives. By assessing the work of their peers, students often engage in self-reflection and self-assessment. Peer assessment can also save instructors time in grading, allowing them to focus on other teaching aspects and providing students with more timely feedback (Hauff & Nilsson, 2022).

It can also work well for neurodivergent students if the task is well structured. Teaching staff will need to think about how the standards are set and benchmarked - a neurotypical and a non-neurotypical student could have very different ideas about what kind of feedback is encouraging or how harshly to review.

Practice examples

  • Peer review of essay or report: Students review and provide feedback on each other's essays or written reports. They can assess factors such as clarity, organisation, use of evidence, and adherence to assignment instructions. The Peer review teaching resource from Melbourne University explains the peer review process, its benefits and how to implement it using technology.
  • Group project evaluation: Each team member assesses the contributions and performance of their fellow team members. This can include evaluating their teamwork, communication, effort, and the quality of their work. Read Peer assessment of teamwork in group projects: Evaluation of a rubric (Vaughan et al., 2019). 

Implement a system of frequent, low-stakes assessments throughout the teaching period.


This can reduce the temptation to cheat on high-stakes assessments, as the overall grade is distributed across multiple assessments. Some obvious benefits include continuous feedback, active engagement, motivation and reduced test/exam anxiety (Warnock, 2013). Ensure that such tasks' development is aligned with the Guidelines for Calibrating Student Workload.

This strategy is also considered the gold standard in inclusive education — checking students’ learning before the caravan moves on. Anonymous unmarked polls can be used in class as an example of setting up this practice.

  • To address student or marking workload concerns, small weekly quizzes can be used where the students can choose which ones they want to be counted towards the final mark or have their lowest score removed.

Practice examples

  • Weekly quiz: Weekly quizzes can gauge students' understanding of the previous week's topics. This feedback helps identify areas where students may be struggling, allowing for timely intervention.
  • Weekly journal: Students submit weekly journal entries reflecting on the assigned readings. These low-stakes assignments encourage active engagement with the material and personal reflection.
  • Short written assignments: Students complete short writing assignments on local or current topics throughout the semester. These small assignments contribute to their overall grade, motivating students to stay engaged with the course content. Check out some concrete strategies for frequent, low-stakes assessment practises from Carnegie Mellon University.

Integrate tasks that demand creative problem-solving abilities by involving students in practical or hands-on projects that necessitate the creation of inventive solutions and unconventional thinking (Cardamone, 2023).


Such measures help build skills that are hard to replicate by AI tools.

Practice examples

  • Ethical dilemma analysis: Present students with a complex ethical dilemma and ask them to analyse the situation, explore various ethical theories, and propose a morally justifiable solution. See this ethical dilemma article to learn more about these assessments.
  • Creative writing: Provide students with a creative writing prompt that challenges them to think outside the box. Encourage them to craft an original short story, poem, or screenplay that showcases their imaginative storytelling skills. Check out these creative writing exercises for strengthening writing skills.
  • TED-style talk: Have students deliver a TED-style talk on a topic of their choice, emphasising innovation and creativity and presenting novel ideas to an audience. Watch Chris Anderson's YouTube TED's secret to great public speaking.
    • For neurodivergent students, provide the option to record or otherwise to help ease a range of anxieties.

Establish links between the curriculum and present-day situations, emphasising practical relevance and reconnecting with the human aspect of education, something generative AI tools can’t handle very well. Create avenues for students to interact with experts in relevant fields by conducting informational interviews, engaging in work-integrated learning, and gaining firsthand experiences. Inviting industry professionals into the classroom to impart their knowledge, real-life encounters, and viewpoints fosters a lively exchange of thoughts and perspectives.


As students apply their understanding in real-life scenarios, they cultivate competencies beyond AI tools' capabilities to reproduce (Montagnino, 2023).

Practice examples:

  • Reflect on placements: For students completing work or industry placements, ask them to submit reflective essays or presentations that connect their classroom learning to real-world experiences. Such experiences are personal and depict present-day situations; hence cannot be reproduced accurately using AI tools. Check this guide for enhancing the educational outcomes of work-integrated learning from Victoria University.
  • Moot court: Law classes, students can participate in or mock trial exercises where they argue real legal cases, applying legal principles and courtroom procedures. Check out the mooting experience student resource from the University of Queensland.

Material for this content has been drawn from:

Cardamone, C. (2023). Thinking about our Assessments in the Age of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Teaching@Tufts.

Deignan, T. (2009). Enquiry-Based Learning: perspectives on practice. Teaching in Higher Education, 14(1), 13-28,

Draisma, K., & McMahon-Coleman, K. (2016). Teaching University Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Hamilton, L. G., & Petty, S. (2023). Compassionate Pedagogy for Neurodiversity in Higher education: a Conceptual Analysis. Frontiers in Psychology, 14.

Hand, C. J. (2023). Neurodiverse undergraduate psychology students’ experiences of presentations in education and employment. Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education.

Carlsson Hauff, J., & Nilsson, J. (2021). Students’ experience of making and receiving peer assessment: the effect of self-assessed knowledge and trust.

Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 1–13.

Keppell, M. (2014). Personalised Learning Strategies for Higher Education. International Perspectives on Higher Education Research, 3–21.

Kifle, T. (2023). Assessments tasks that minimise students’ motivation to chat. Times Higher Education. London, UK.

Mirfin-Veitch, B., & Jalo, N. (2020). Responding to neurodiversity in the education context: An integrative literature review. Dunedin: Donald Beasley Institute.

Mislevy, R. J., Behrens, J. T., Dicerbo, K. E., & Levy, R. (2012). Design and discovery in educational assessment: Evidence-centred design, psychometrics, and educational data mining. Journal of Educational Data Mining, 4(1), 11–48

Montagnino, C. (2023). Six Ways to Maximize Authentic Learning in the AI Era. Fierce Education.

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