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Adapting to the Digital Shift: Exploring AI’s Impact on Assessment with Eddie Cowling

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Generative AI, with its ability to mimic human-like behaviour and generate content autonomously, has become increasingly prevalent in academic settings, including assessment - with research highlighting that up to 70% of students have used generative AI to support their studies.

We recently had the incredible opportunity to speak to Eddie Cowling, Assessment Leader at the University of York, and hear from his perspective the influence that AI is having on traditional assessment, his hopes for the future of digital assessment, and how Shortlist.Me has supported in assessment at the University of York and helped to mitigate against the risks presented by AI.

AI: Exploring the Risks

Within the conversation, Eddie shared his view that AI has certainly 'shaken up' the assessment process, in ways both positive and negative, and started by taking a look at some of the risks involved.

He began by emphasising that traditional ‘read about it’ and ‘write about it’ assessment methods were particularly being impacted by AI - with ‘take-home’ methods offering greater potential for students to use AI to support their answers, ultimately raising concerns about the authenticity of the work being produced.

In addition to the risk of the use of AI tools to aid with producing answers, Eddie also stated how the rise of AI has also underlined broader issues of digital and technological disparities among students and faculty, with some students having access to tools that others do not, leading to questions around inclusivity and accessibility.

AI: Exploring the Positives

Despite these aforementioned challenges, however, Eddie also emphasised that he believes that there are highly positive opportunities presented by AI, and highlighted his view that it’s essential to recognise that AI is not solely inherently detrimental to the assessment process.

Within the conversation, Eddie expressed optimism about the positive impacts of AI on the assessment process itself, emphasising how it has forced academics to look closely and ask questions about what we assess, why we assess it and question the validity of assessment. What’s more, he also shared the belief that AI also offers lots of future opportunities down the line, and that these opportunities should not be overlooked.

Shortlist.Me’s Role in Tackling Assessment Challenges

In our discussion, Eddie also shed light on some of the multifaceted challenges currently surrounding assessments in higher education. These challenges range from time constraints and workload pressures on faculty, to the imperative of designing assessments that cater to diverse student populations, whilst ensuring that student wellbeing and mental health remain top priorities.

As part of the mission to address these challenges, Eddie’s team had implemented Shortlist.Me for facilitating digital assessment at scale. In the discussion, he shared his view on how Shortlist.Me has addressed the challenge of time and workload pressures, underlining how the platform has eliminated constraining factors such as room scheduling and live assessment coordination, as well as enabling academics to mark student work asynchronously, accommodating their schedules.

In addition to the above, Shortlist.Me was already endorsed by the university’s careers service, and used to support students with interview preparation and soft skill development. From this, Eddie expressed confidence in the tool's capabilities and its ability to ensure that all students have access to it. 

What’s more, in regard to addressing AI concerns, Eddie also underlined how Shortlist.Me's features maintain spontaneity and timed responses, reducing misconduct risk while fostering soft skill development.

The Future of Digital Assessment

Looking forward, Eddie concluded by sharing his hopes for the future of digital assessment. Here, he expressed his desire to witness a future characterised by the further integration of AI into teaching and learning processes, and emphasised his hope that the education world continues to embrace emerging technologies, like augmented reality and the use of podcasts, to develop innovative methods of assessment.

In addition, Eddie also communicated an aspiration to one day see a world in which assessments are further designed with employability and skill development in mind, and advocated for reasonable risk-taking and the exploration of alternative assessment methods that prioritise communication, student choice, and innovation.

Conclusion: Embracing Innovation in Assessment

In exploring the intersection of AI and assessment, our conversation with Eddie Cowling illuminates the complex landscape facing educators in the digital age. Whilst AI introduces risks such as authenticity concerns and disparities in access, it also offers promising opportunities to reimagine assessment practices and foster skill development. Shortlist.Me emerges as a valuable ally in navigating these challenges, streamlining processes while maintaining integrity and inclusivity.

As we look to the future, Eddie's vision for digital assessment resonates with a commitment to innovation and adaptability. Embracing emerging technologies and evolving assessment methodologies holds the potential to not only meet the needs of diverse student populations but also better prepare them for the demands of the workforce.

We’d like to thank Eddie for his time in speaking with us on this topic. To watch the full conversation, click here.


With over 60% of UK universities already leveraging Shortlist.Me and more than 50 academics embracing its benefits, the future of digital assessment is indeed bright. By embracing innovation and collaborating with technology, educators can ensure that assessments remain relevant, meaningful, and reflective of the dynamic learning landscape of the 21st century. 

To learn more about Shortlist.Me’s ’Assessment Hub’, click here.
To check out our full conversation with Eddie Cowling, or watch the key highlights, click here.