ERIC Number: EJ724624
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2004
Reference Count: N/A
Piloting E-Assessment in Scottish Schools--Building on Past Experience
Ashton, Helen S.; Beevers, Cliff E.; Bull, Joanna
International Journal on E-Learning, v3 n2 p74-84 2004
Assessment and learning are two sides of the same coin (Ramsden, 1992, Biggs, 1999) and their relationship has also been likened to the participants in a three-legged race (Harding & Craven, 2001). The aim of this article is to explore the potential of e-assessment to provide solutions to some of the challenges for e-learning. Drawing on decades of development in the United Kingdom higher education sector, this article addresses key issues for e-learning, in particular the support of learners through formative assessment and detailed feedback and the benefits of, and barriers to, summative e-assessment for both learners and organisations. Various groups have pioneered the delivery of e-assessment in the United Kingdom since the mid-1980s. Early projects and tools include: the Computer-aided Learning in Mathematics (CALM) Project team at Heriot-Watt University (Beevers, Foster & McGuire, 1989), Coursemaster computer science programming software at Nottingham University (Benford, Burke, & Foxley, 1992; Foxley, Higgins, Tsintsifas, & Symoniedes, 1999) and various language tools, such as LUISA at Leeds University, among others (Bull, 1993). The tools of e-assessment have advanced dramatically. Systems are now capable of supplying a range of question types well beyond the multiple-choice format, incorporating images, multimedia, and animation. In many universities e-assessment is used for both formative and summative assessment in a variety of disciplines (Stephens & Mascia, 1995, Bull & McKenna, 2000, 2003; Mackenzie, 1999). Internationally, there have been similar developments in Australia (Robinson, 1999; Morgan & O'Reilly, 1999; Daziel, 2001), Europe (Deemeersseman, Bert & Jos, 2001, Van Rentergem, Cosemans, Verburgh, & Wils, 2002; Geurts, 2001; Guildford Educational Services [GES], 1999) and especially in the United States where the use of large-scale e-assessment is widespread across a range of sectors (Bennett, 1998; Drasgow & Olsen-Buchanan, 1999; Burstein, Lacock, & Swartz, 2001; Leacock & Chodorow, 2000). Practitioners and developers frequently debate the effective pedagogical use of e-assessment. Themes include the potential to support and enhance learning through structured and directive formative assessment and feedback and the capabilities of e-assessment to test different types of skills effectively and reliably. It is generally accepted that Bloom (Bloom & Krathwohl, 1956/1964) provided a sensible taxonomy of educational objectives that apply to most academic subjects. Currently in practice, e-assessment can be applied to test the minimum competencies (knowledge, comprehension, and application), and attempts are already appearing to provide automatic testing for the extended competencies of analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. In Scottish secondary education, National Assessment Bank (NAB) tests measure the minimum competencies. The recently funded project, PASS-IT, is working to achieve the automatic delivery of National Assessment Bank items in a range of subjects directly into schools and colleges. PASS-IT (http://www.pass-it.org.uk) brings together major Scottish interests with a common goal to investigate how best to exploit e-assessment to enhance flexibility, improve attainment, and support teaching and learning. PASS-IT combines the key players of the Scottish Qualifications Authority, Learning and Teaching Scotland, the BBC, the Scottish Further Education Unit, and the Scottish Centre for Research into On-Line Learning and Assessment. PASS-IT is creating e-assessment for a range of National and Higher National provision and tests for one area of the 5-14 curriculum, supporting the first National Priority in school education--Achievement and Attainment. The project has a keen awareness of related issues, such as interoperability (http://www.impsproject.org), evaluations of the use of steps for partial credit (Beevers, Youngson, McGuire, Wild, & Fiddes, 1999), the significance of the medium in test delivery (Fiddes, Korabinski, McGuire, Youngson, & McMillan, 2002) and the emerging guidelines concerning security of computer examinations (UK BS7988 Code of Practice). PASS-IT is experimenting with novel approaches to question design and structure, the role of feedback to support learning, invigilation leading to more secure examinations on demand and the concept of anywhere, anytime testing. While no prior assumptions are being made about either the feasibility or desirability of e-assessment this project is seeking to develop a model for national summative assessment, which can be adapted for use with a number of assessment approaches, and can illustrate the relationship between formative and summative assessment.
Descriptors: Teaching Methods, Program Effectiveness, Foreign Countries, Computer Assisted Testing, Internet, Minimum Competencies, Feedback, Formative Evaluation, Summative Evaluation
Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education, P.O. Box 1545, Chesapeake, VA 23327-1545. Tel: 757-366-5606.
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United Kingdom (Scotland)