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Digital Education team blog


Ideas and reflections from UCL's Digital Education team


New E-Book on Assessment, Feedback and Technology

By Tim Neumann, on 1 November 2017

UCL Digital Education Advisory members contributed to a new Open Access e-book that provides valuable insight into the way technology can enhance assessment and feedback. The book was launched formally on 26th October by Birkbeck College Secretary Keith Harrison, with talks from the editors Leo Havemann (Birkbeck, University of London) and Sarah Sherman (BLE Consortium), three case study authors, and event sponsor Panopto.

Havemann, Leo; Sherman, Sarah (2017): Assessment, Feedback and Technology: Contexts and Case Studies in Bloomsbury. London: Bloomsbury Learning Environment.
View and download from: https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.5315224.v1


The Book

E-Book thumbnail

E-Book Cover

The book is a result of a two-year project on e-assessment and feedback run by the Bloomsbury Learning Environment (BLE), a collaboration between five colleges, including the UCL Institute of Education, on issues around digital technology in Higher Education. It contains three research papers which capture snapshots of current practice, and 21 case studies from the BLE partner institutions and a little beyond, thus including practice from wider UCL.

The three papers focus on

  • the use of technology across the assessment lifecycle,
  • the roles played by administrative staff in assessment processes,
  • technology-supported assessment in distance learning.

The case studies are categorised under the headings:

  • alternative [assessment] tasks and formats,
  • students feeding back,
  • assessing at scale,
  • multimedia approaches, and
  • technical developments.

Seven of the 21 case studies were provided by UCL Digital Education colleagues Jess Gramp, Jo Stroud, Mira Vogel (2), and Tim Neumann (3), reporting on examples of blogging, group assessment, peer feedback, assessment in MOOCs, student presentations at a distance, and the UCL-developed My Feedback Report plugin for Moodle.


Why you should read the e-book

Launch Event Photo

BLE E-Book Launch Event

As one of the speakers at the entertaining launch event, I suggested three reasons why everybody involved in Higher Education should read this book, in particular the case studies:

  1. Processes in context:
    The case studies succinctly describe assessment and feedback processes in context, so you can quickly decide whether these processes are transferable to your own situation, and you will get a basic prompt on how implement the assessment/feedback process.
  2. Problems are highlighted:
    Some case studies don’t shy away from raising issues and difficulties, so you can judge for yourself whether these difficulties represent risks in your context, and how these risks can be managed.
  3. Practical tips:
    All case studies follow the same structure. If you are in a hurry, make sure to read at least the Take Away sections of each case study, which are full of tips and tricks, many of which apply to situations beyond the case study.

Overall, this collection of papers and case studies on assessment and feedback is easily digestible and contributes to an exchange of good practice.


View and Download the Book

The e-book is an Open Access publication freely available below.

For further information, see ble.ac.uk/ebook.html, and view author profiles at ble.ac.uk/ebook_contributors.html


About the BLE:
The Bloomsbury Learning Environment is a collaboration between Birkbeck, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), Royal Veterinary College (RVC), School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS),  UCL Institute of Education (IOE), and the University of London with a focus on technologies for teaching and learning, including libraries and administration.
See www.ble.ac.uk for more information.

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