Assessment for learning: pushing the boundaries of computer-based assessment

Jordan, Sally (2009). Assessment for learning: pushing the boundaries of computer-based assessment. Practitioner Research in Higher Education, 3(1) pp. 11–19.



Feedback on assessment tasks has an important part to play in underpinning student learning. Online assessment enables instantaneous feedback to be given so that the student can act on it immediately. However, concern has been expressed that e-assessment tasks (especially multiple-choice questions) can encourage surface-learning. Several projects at the UK Open University are investigating the use of rich interactive e-assessment. One of these projects is using a linguistically based authoring tool to enable sophisticated answer matching for free-text responses of up to a sentence in length. Immediate tailored feedback is provided on incorrect and incomplete responses, and students are able to use this feedback in reattempting the question. Students have been observed attempting the questions and were seen to answer them in different ways, with most students using short phrases but some using full and carefully constructed sentences and some using note form. There was evidence that some students assumed the system to be looking only for keywords. A human-computer marking comparison has demonstrated the computer-based answer matching to be of similar or greater accuracy than that of six course tutors.

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