How is evidence-based literature informing e-Assessment practice: Findings from an HEA project
Presentation by Denise Whitelock at the CALRG conference 2012.
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19 June 2012
One of the main drivers for Learning has long been acknowledged as the Assessment that students must undergo during the course of their studies (Rowntree, 1987). The “backwash effect” of assessment (Biggs, 1996), such as “students only learn what is assessed”, highlights how the results influence certain assessment practices. There is now a sea change in attitudes to assessment where, quite rightly, the role of assessment is focused to support student learning (Assessment for Learning Group, 2002). Providing students with constructive, timely and “easy to understand” feedback is taking centre stage in this new culture of assessment (Havnes & McDowell, 2008) and has gained increased interest throughout the HE Sector with the advent of electronic assessment.
There is now a growing body of literature about the role that electronic assessment and feedback is playing in the HE Sector and one of the salient questions of the day is how is this literature informing practice to support student learning?
This paper reports on a study commissioned by the Higher Education Academy and undertaken by The Open University and the University of Southampton to investigate this question through addressing the following:
- Consult the academic community about which references on assessment and feedback with technology enhancement are most useful to practitioners
- Prioritise evidence-based references i.e. those that are peer reviewed and have data to support their practice
- Synthesise the main points from these references
- Provide signposts for readers to locate the original documents for further study
The aim of this desktop research was to support the Higher Education Sector in its use of technology to enhance learning and teaching by providing a comprehensive and useful synthesis of evidence based practice in this domain.
The findings revealed that the majority of publications were practitioner-led case studies. The references that were recommended to the team were clearly having an impact on current practice and were found to be valuable by the practitioners. The key messages from these case studies were consistent and often gave detailed and practical guidance for other academics. Most of the recommended literature focused on the objectives that can be met using technology-enhanced assessment and how the assessment and feedback loop can be designed to make best use of the technology.