Experiences in eAssessment

On your blog post a message about your experiences or expectations of e-assessment and e-feedback to support student learning. For example,

  • Why did/would you choose a particular type of e-assessment? Describe why you think it is effective and how it can help deepen knowledge and understanding.
  • In your experience, what type of approach creates an environment conducive to self-directed learning, peer support and collaborative learning? How might technology help?
  • What opportunities and challenges does this approach present to tutors?

We are running a pilot project here at the University looking at eSubmission, and eFeedback (eSeF) with eAssessment as an optional extra.

The tools we are looking at for eSubmission are through the VLE which is Sakai. This installation of the VLE has been customised quite heavily which has allowed us to make changes to the submission process from the vanilla install. The process allows for changes to individual assessment options and links to the plagiarism detection service TurnitIn. If this option is selected, then a TurnitIn submission point is created and the work submitted is automatically uploaded. From there, the staff the option to use GradeMark (from TurnitIn) to actually read the scripts on screen, add comments from comment banks and mark using Rubrics (or not if they choose). The marks are then stored in GradeMark and can be exported out for uploading back to the Student Information System. Grademark can give generalised Feedback through the use of rubrics, however this is not individualised and therefore the academic has the opportunity to attach their own comments to the assessment for feeding back to the student.

HE has a particular issue with the majority of eSubmission and grading tools as most cannot account for the irregularities that occur in the assessment process. Students can have a wealth of problems with the assessment process such as late submission, mitigating circumstances, compensation etc… combine this with the variety of assessment regulations and penalties that can be applied at centre level or even at faculty level and you have an idea of the problem.

There is certainly no ‘magic wand’ solution for eAssessment which is why HEIs are having to cobble together a variety of systems and try to get them to talk to each other. LTI compliance has gone a long way to support inter system communication.

One of the things that goes a long way to support deeper learning is providing timely, prompt and specific feedback. To this end, the use of rubrics, audio feedback and screen-casts of marking in progress all support the process of enriched feedback  to support the learner to improve on their potential (feed forward).  Feed forward has been shown to improve student grades through the creation of individual learning plans that draw on the previous work Duncan (2007). This is fairly commonplace in Further Education where individualised learning has been commonplace for over a decade now Kinsel (2002).

Technology can certainly help in developing self-directed learning through improved assessment and feedback methodologies. However, the real gains are to be made in changing the Assessment Strategy of a course and employing alternative forms of assessment vehicle which optimise the opportunities for for success for the student. Too often an assessment strategy at an HEI goes like this:

Lecture, lecture, lecture, seminar, lecture, lecture, lecture, seminar, lecture, lecture… repeat until the revision period when past exam papers might be available….. Exam – Usually an essay question relying on recall of knowledge…

Look familiar?

Well, it is possible to break out of this methodology and to be fair, most academics realise the limitations of that approach and have adjusted their own methods accordingly. Increasing the use of formative feedback, setting coursework, problem-based learning, team-based learning, peer assessment, reflective diaries are all supporting the student with more opportunities for improvement. Technology can support these approaches but should not be the driver for their use. Providing increased opportunities for formative feedback is the solution to providing a better learning experience for students either with or without technology.



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