Archive for March 13th, 2010

Mar 13 2010

Using assessment – lessons from elearning

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Our readings have outlined the theory of assessment both formative and summative; certainly something each teacher should be very conversant with by now.  The innovation that was added in this research was how assessment translates in the elearning environment.  There is no doubt that assessment provides timely feedback and that technology has improved our response time through automation.  Jenkins states many concrete examples of how assessment is being used in higher education, specifically for formative purposes. “Assessment methods involving ICT include case studies,
mock exams, group projects and the creation of authentic learning tasks (Brown et al., 1999; Peat & Franklin, 2002; Herrington et al., 2002).” (p. 70)

Jenkins further delves into the use of multiple choice questions to provide “feedback in a range of contexts. At the University of Gloucestershire, MCQs are used in weekly tests as part of a first year Marketing module (a popular module with over 300 students). Providing formative feedback on this basis using traditional approaches would be prohibitive. The MCQ tests were introduced to provide students with regular feedback on their understanding of
the key principles being introduced throughout the module. Eight  formative assessment using CAA tests, each consisting of ten questions, are made available at weekly intervals during the module, delivered via the University’s VLE — WebCT. Initial evidence suggests that students have responded positively to receiving feedback in this way. As an added incentive to completing the formative tests, the best five scores contribute to the summative assessment of the module. (p. 72-73)

This seems like a key paragraph and a solution in my own class setting.  I hadn’t though of MCQs as formative assessment until now.  And I like the idea of using the 5 best scores to contribute to the summative assessment.  In my high school Marketing class, I’ve given a few MCQ quizzes to cover material that is available on the published notes.  It’s been more a  method of checking the students’ reading as we work through the chapters.  The final exam is made up entirely of MCQs.  Other assessment has come in the form of major group projects which include presentations both oral and visual (website, posters, flyers, packaging design) and online asynchronous group discussions.

Reading Jenkins has certainly confirmed that my students are given plenty of opportunity for both formative and summative assessment and has helped me to realize why I feel the final exam is merely a formality that I must carry on because of school policy.  I now feel I have the means to justify what are becoming shorter and easier (to mark) exams.  The one thing that should be addressed next is the allocation of marks for culminating tasks and exams.  They should probably reflect less than the current 30% of the final grade.  I understand the need for uniformity within a school board and even province wide, but with the changing face of assessment, we need to revisit this point as well.

  • Jenkins, M. (2004).  “Unfulfilled Promise: formative assessment using computer-aided assessment.” Learning and Teaching in Higher Education , i, 67-80. Accessed online 17 March 2009

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