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Digital Education team blog


Ideas and reflections from UCL's Digital Education team


Effective Assessment in a Digital Age

By Jessica Gramp, on 9 February 2011

On February 3rd practitioners from universities in and around the region met in Birmingham to discuss how technology can be used to promote effective learning by looking at good practice in assessment and feedback.

The workshops were based around the principles from the Effective Assessment in a Digital Age: A guide to technology-enhanced assessment and feedback publication.

Some of the ideas that emerged from the workshop activities are summarised here:

  • Set an assessment where group members contribute to a forum as they collect research towards a final outcome
  • Set an assessment where individuals produce a poster illustrating the information they have sourced in their research.
  • Set formative assessment for complex questions that the majority of students are likely to fail towards the beginning of a course, so they become familiar with learning from their mistakes in a safe and productive way.
  • Review students’ answers to assessments to see which questions many students got wrong and support them in understanding why and how to reach the correct answer.
  • Develop formative assessments that reveal hints to the correct answer and allow students to have another go if they get it wrong initially and when they do get it right (or wrong a number of times) explain the correct answer in detail.
  • Use text matching technology to produce free-text, short-answer questions, rather than the commonly used multiple choice question type. Note: To do this effectively can take time and requires large quantities of real student answers to mark accurately, so may only be viable to large cohorts of students.
  • Use various assessment methods to cater for different learning styles, engage students and allow those who have strengths in some areas to take advantage of these.
  • Assess frequently throughout the term to allow tutors to evaluate students’ progress and steer them in the right direction if they begin to go off track before the final submission. This also allows tutors to distribute the time they spend providing feedback and marking across the term, rather than the marking and feedback process being concentrated at the end.

The output from the workshops and other useful materials are available here: http://bit.ly/jiscassess

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