Using online assessment tools to aid learning and assessment
An increasing number of educational and awarding organisations are using online assessment tools for formative and summative assessment. And while we might assume that pen and paper exams will at some stage be entirely replaced by digital assessment, this is likely to happen at different paces per geography and assessment type.
Depending on what is being assessed, you might feel that full end-to-end digital assessment doesn’t fit with your practice model. Or you might want your transition to digital to start small and expand its use carefully over time.
The potential for digital assessment to sit alongside your needs is ever-expanding. But what’s important is getting a solution that truly works for you.
It’s vital that you develop technology that suits your needs, not trying to make your needs suit the technology that’s already available. Investing in bespoke software will future-proof your digital assessment strategy and the tools that you choose should sit within your strategy for solving current problems but also help to solve future problems.
Here are just a few of the most useful digital assessment tools that could help you enhance student understanding, learning and assessment.
Adaptive Comparative Judgement as an online assessment tool
At its heart, adaptive comparative judgement is simple. But it is that simplicity that is helping to achieve results for schools and Higher Education Institutions, reducing workload and improving attainment.
In a nutshell, comparative judgement is looking at two pieces of work side-by-side to see which is better and why. Instead of relying on traditional marking scripts, comparative judgement allows the assessor to see why one piece of work should be graded higher, or lower, than the other based on the standards shown.
Adaptive comparative judgement is not as useful for assessment question items with definitive right/wrong answers, or for multiple choice, but for more complex, subject or creative responses such as writing, design or creative arts it can be incredibly powerful.
“The power of adaptive comparative judgement gave us the ability to work and achieve our goals in a completely different way. It’s such a simple process and had really positive feedback from all the teachers and head teachers involved. Each teacher receives a comprehensive overview of all of the children’s work, so we are collectively raising standards in a very collaborative way.” Steve Dew, Head Teacher, Church Cowley St. James School
How might you look to use Adaptive Comparative Judgement in your exam or school environment?
• To work collaboratively with other schools to raise standards – whether you are part of an Academy Trust or simply want to work alongside other schools to collectively raise standards, Adaptive Comparative Judgement can give you a clearer picture of where you sit alongside other schools and help to set growth and learning targets together.
• To help shape formative assessment – using the insight and data gathered from the marking format, you can use it to make changes to how you evaluate students and gain a better understanding of what works and what doesn’t.
• Increase marking standards – by comparing two pieces of work side-by-side you get a fair picture of what good looks like. It’s easier to make confident judgements on work and give comprehensive feedback based on what you’ve seen.
• Reduce time spent marking – adaptive comparative judgement is a more natural way of marking and cuts down time assessors spend marking against a criteria. Seeing standard levels is clearer when comparing two pieces of work, making the whole process easier.
“It helps to boost the attainment level of learners and improves the teachers’ judgements, as they have a clearer view of what good quality writing looks like, leading to better professional conversations between teachers at school.”
Steve Dew, Head Teacher, Church Cowley St. James School
Using e-marking as one of digital assessment tools in your toolbox
E-marking doesn’t need to be part of an end-to-end digital assessment programme to bring benefits. It can be implemented for paper exams (which are scanned in to a secure system to be marked on-screen by examiners) and can add an enormous amount of value to your assessment approach.
What are the key benefits that e-marking brings?
• It can help with continuous improvement in assessment: e-marking gives you the power to drill down into your exam question data, which you can then use to shape your curriculum, assessment formats and teaching approaches. Exam questions, topic clusters and gaps in knowledge can be looked at in greater detail depending on what your formative assessment data shows you.
• It can help speed up the marking process: e-marking can halve the time it takes to complete the assessment of exams*. This eases the burden placed on staff, examiners, exam boards and students when dealing with the issuing of results.
• E-marking can improve quality assurance and security: e-marking has an array of security and quality measures in place to ensure exam scripts are safe and accurately marked. Auto-calculation of marks, real-time support and secure servers and scanning all increase the integrity of the marking.
• E-marking can be a first step in a longer-term journey to digital assessment: Find out how the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria implemented e-marking in six months and made the first step to digital assessment.
*Examiners at Manipal University, India, reduced their exam lifecycle from three months to six weeks.
Online testing to reflect the world in which the students live
In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, schools, higher education institutions and professional bodies around the world have adopted online teaching, learning and test delivery. Delivering exams and course content online offers not only a flexibility and freedom that can save time, but also an access to learning experiences and resources and can improve results in the long term. It can also act as a vital tool for breaking down barriers to accessing education and allowing students to achieve their qualifications even during a pandemic.
The remote proctoring technology provided by RM gave one Chartered Institute the opportunity to deliver tests in a very short period during the Covid-19 pandemic and give students the liberty to choose between centre-based and remote tests. The same technology will allow them to expand their qualification offering globally and improve student experience by giving students located abroad the choice of taking their exams online and therefore eliminating the need to travel to a test centre.
Online testing has been adopted by many organisations around the world way before the pandemic. For example, the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) started transitioning to online exams in 2018 because they wanted their assessments to reflect the digital world that students live, learn and eventually work in. NZQA is looking to gradually replace paper-based exams with digital exams and introduce assessments that are developed specifically for digital platforms.
Feedback - one of critical formative assessment tools
Using a digital platform and digital tools to store and record feedback also allows instant access, so students don’t have to wait long for feedback that they receive from multiple assignments or sources. This saves time and empowers learners to take charge of their own continuous development and improvement.
Online feedback system benefits assessment for learning are:
• Collating feedback in one place allows students to engage with it more effectively.
• Using insights from data, institutions can help organisations glean insights into the efficacy of feedback provision
• Students can interact with their feedback and gain a better understanding of what they can do to improve.
• Resource banks can help direct them towards assistance so they can put their feedback into action straight away.