Introduction to online assessment
Version 1.0, May 2014
Designing effective online assessment provides an opportunity to reflect on what it is you are trying to achieve in assessing your students. Designing effective online assessment is rarely a matter of transposing existing assessment items to some online system or tool. Effective online assessment is always informed primarily by pedagogical considerations, with technical considerations secondary to this. A suite of online tools exists to support many different assessment modes, methods and approaches.
Benefits and challenges
The benefits of online assessment can include – depending on the implementation:
- Automated marking can provide immediate and targeted feedback to students;
- Feedback can be efficient and reusable;
- Students can be given many opportunities to assess their own learning through self-paced formative assessment;
- Students can be encouraged to take more responsibility for their own learning;
- Assessment performance can be analysed to provide feedback on teaching effectiveness and areas for further development;
- Different modes and methods of assessment can be accommodate through a wide range of online tools;
- Equity and accessibility considerations can be built into the assessment design.
Online assessment rarely introduces new challenges, just new modes of presentation of existing challenges (e.g. identity verification, plagiarism detection).
Designing effective online assessment can be quite time consuming, particularly if time is invested in providing for automated targeted performance-based feedback. However, well designed online assessment items can be reusable and scalable, requiring no more effort to administer to several hundred students than to a dozen.
Applications and technologies
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Essays, papers, reports, and case studies
The road map
Ideally each assessment task should represent a component of an overarching assessment strategy. Some things to think about when designing an assessment strategy include:
- the timeliness of each assessment task within the subject;
- the constructive relationship between each assessment task;
- the feedback you want to provide to students on each task and the time frame in which this can be achieved;
- the alignment of the assessment strategy with the intended learning outcomes.
For each assessment task, consider:
- the alignment of the task with the intended learning outcomes;
- the mode and method of assessment (e.g. formative/summative, self-directed/submitted, individual/group, high/low stakes);
- the relationship between the preceding task and the following task, where relevant;
- whether you will be assessing the process, the product, or both;
- the extent to which you are able to invest time up front to reduce marking time
LTLT can then advise you as to what type of online assessment might work best for what you are trying to achieve, and support you in designing and implementing the assessment.
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