Beginning Fall 2021, UMBC will employ Akindi for paper-based, bubble sheet assessments. Akinidi is a Scantron alternative that allows instructors to print and score bubble sheets from any local printer/scanner.
Before UMBC's physical campus closed due to COVID-19, CHEM 101 and CHEM 102 participated in a limited Spring 2020 pilot using Akindi, with approximately 700 students enrolled in each course. Dr. Sarah Bass, Lecturer from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, reflected on her experience with Akindi on a recent GO Chat:
"I loved Akindi and I never want to go back to Scantrons! The integration with Blackboard made Akindi easy to use. One of the advantages was that I didn't have to take this huge pile of Scantrons across campus and hope that I would get the results back quickly. With Akindi, I had all of the results at my fingertips within forty-five minutes, which let students get their results and feedback as quickly as possible. I was able to review exam material with them the following class period."
How does Akindi work?
- Within a Blackboard course shell, instructors create an Akindi assessment to add their answer key.
- Akindi will generate bubble sheets as a downloadable PDF that instructors will print from a standard printer with standard paper to make copies for distribution.
- Students will use the provided Akindi bubble sheet for their multiple choice, paper assessment.
- Using any standard scanner, instructors scan all returned bubble sheets into a PDF file.
- Instructors upload the PDF file from the scanner into the corresponding Akindi Assessment in Blackboard. Akindi will flag assessments that may need manual review (e.g., bubbling two responses, missing ID).
- Akindi will score the assessments and post scores into the Blackboard gradebook.
Why transition from Scantrons to Akindi?
The Technology Support Center (TSC) is responsible for scanning and returning completed Scantron assessments. While the TSC's goal is to return assessments within 2 business days, meeting this goal during peak assessment periods for midterm and final exams is challenging. These peak times are precisely when the TSC is most needed for faculty and student support. With Akindi, instructors can more easily and quickly score and return results to students.
Immediate feedback improves just-in-time pedagogical strategies where faculty can leverage assessment data to specifically review content at a time in the course schedule that has heightened relevance for students. Some UMBC faculty have used "Exam wrapper" reflections where they ask students, after receiving their results, to reflect on their strategies to prepare for the exam.
Immediate feedback gives students performance indicators on assessments that can inform their study habits or outreach efforts for tutoring and support. Additionally, students only have access to the original, physical bubble sheet, which may delay or prevent students from reviewing transcription or other grading errors. With Akindi, instructors can choose to email students a copy of the scanned image as soon as grades are posted to Blackboard.
Analytics and Regrading
Results from scored Scantrons are compiled in a CSV file, where instructors can manipulate the data in order to generate reports within any spreadsheet application; instructors also receive a static PDF report of the data. If there were errors on the answer key, or a question needs to be thrown out, all of the assessments would need to be rescored. Additionally, instructors are unable to run what-if analyses to determine the effects of throwing out a question or answer choice. Akindi provides a dynamic interface for instructors to manipulate and review bubble sheet assessment data.
Bubble Sheet Retention
Scantrons are required to be stored at the TSC until picked up by faculty members; some assessments administered from Summer 2017 still remain unclaimed. Scantron alternatives can offer digital copies of bubble sheets, which only requires computer or cloud disk space instead of physical storage. Further, Akindi can email a copy of the scored exam directly to students for their review.
Integration with Blackboard
Results from scored Scantrons are compiled in a CSV file, uploaded by the TSC into a Blackboard course's Content Collection. The process to take the results from the Content Collection to the Gradebook is not as seamless as it could be, especially when pushing results from Akindi to the Gradebook is only a click away. If instructors wish to regrade a particular question, the CSV must first be downloaded, amended, then re-uploaded into the Blackboard gradebook. With Akindi, instructors can edit the answer key within Blackboard and immediately update results.
Instructors that wish to continue using Scantrons for their bubble sheet assessments will still be able to do so during this transition throughout Fall 2021.
Over the next several weeks, we will be announcing training dates with Akindi to prepare faculty for this transition. Follow our Instructional Technology myUMBC group to stay up-to-date when training dates will be announced. Until then, instructors can:
- Review the Transition from Scantrons to Akindi Comparison Guide (uploaded below)
- Follow the Instructional Technology & DoIT myUMBC groups
- Check our extensive FAQ collection
- PIVOT | Academic Continuity | Keep On Teaching | Student Technology Resources
- Open a ticket via RT
- Request a consult with instructional technology staff