Digital technologies present new possibilities for the ways in which students undertake and submit assessment tasks, the way in which feedback is provided and the kinds of learner activities that can be assessed. Authentic assessment tasks which require students to demonstrate practices of the target profession can be provisioned in ways that scaffold students and ensure professional and practice-based learning outcomes. This element supports enhanced learner-content and learner-learner engagement.
Watch the video for an overview of the element.
Digital technologies present new possibilities for the ways in which students undertake and submit assessment tasks, the ways in which feedback is provided and returned, and the kinds of learner activities that can be assessed. In particular, digital technologies can enable new kinds of authentic assessment tasks which assess students on their ability to undertake practices and produce artefacts aligned to the artefacts and practices of the target profession, and which scaffold students in the achievement of professional and practice-based learning outcomes.
Assessment design and delivery are identified as key aspects of enhanced learner-content engagement. In professional courses the learning benefits of authentic assessment activities modelled on the kinds of activities undertaken by practicing professionals are well established.
Online learning technologies can afford new approaches to assessment including the use of rich media to capture student practice in their own context and the use of communication technologies to allow collaborative assessment tasks. A wide range of e-assessment strategies have been explored in the research literature, including: diagnostic testing, rubrics, authentic project based learning, WebQuests, simulations and e-portfolios (Buzetto-More & Alade, 2006), multiple choice, single correct response tasks and cloze exercises using simulations, Java applets, web-based applications, spreadsheets and personal response systems (Crisp, 2009), Web 2.0 technologies, namely Twitter, Wiki and Moodle (Megele, 2014), audio files and the social media platform Flickr (Pachler, Daly, Mor, & Mellar, 2010), and interactive computer-marked assignments (Jordan & Mitchell, 2009). These investigations covered a wide range of disciplines identifying many applications for e-assessment in higher education while noting a range of issues to be considered.
Constructive alignment between intended learning outcomes, learning activities and assessment is an essential element of contemporary learning design in a university context. At the most pragmatic level such alignment is essential to ensure that all students engage with the learning activities provided and consequently achieve the intended outcomes. A corollary of the principle of constructive alignment is that providing students with authentic learning activities aligned with professional outcomes but assessing them using traditional paper-based exams or written essays is unlikely to lead to deep learner engagement. Consistent with this argument, a key plank within this element of the model is the eventual replacement of paper-based exams with computer-based exams undertaken either within on-campus examination centres or within students’ homes or workplaces using remote online invigilation.
Some have questioned whether a computer-based exam is any more authentic than a paper-based exam. We would agree that just translating a paper-based exam to an electronic format only marginally increases the authenticity of the assessment practice. However, once we have the infrastructure and processes in place to offer computer-based exams this opens up the opportunity for a wider range of tasks to be assessed under examination conditions. This can embrace tasks requiring the use of specialist software like Computer Assisted Design tools, computer programming environments, accounting packages and spreadsheets and also include tasks where students are expected to search for and synthesise information from online sources.
The e-Assessment element is exemplified by:
- Construction of rich media artefacts modelled on the products of the profession.
- ePortfolios to capture student reflections and record and demonstrate professional practice capabilities.
- Blogs and online journals for formative and summative assessment.
- Self-marking quizzes.
- Automated plagiarism checking, online marking and online peer assessment.
- Badges for micro-credentialing of competencies.
- Contemporary computer-based exams with remote exam invigilation.
The TOL Learning Experience Framework, while encouraging designers to draw upon the OLM in a way which best meets the learning needs of the particular cohort, also recommends specific strategies to enact the eAssessment element, as follows:
- Utilization of automated feedback and forms of self assessment (eg. Online quizzes) provided throughout the subject to enable students to monitor their own learning.
- Where appropriate online invigilated exams made available to students to maximise flexibility of timing and location.
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