eAssessment and the independent learner

Butcher, P. G.; Swithenby, S. J. and Jordan, S. E. (2009). eAssessment and the independent learner. In: M-2009: Proceedings of the 23rd ICDE World Conference on Open Learning and Distance Education including the 2009 EADTU Annual Conference, 7-10 Jun 2009, Maastricht, NL.


This study informs the development of eAssessment aimed at independent learners, particularly those studying through open and distance learning. It was motivated by the perception that recent developments in computing and communications technologies could lead to eAssessments fulfilling a much wider role than had hitherto been possible, combining motivating interactions with rich, and instant, feedback to create engaging eAssessments across a broad range of learning outcomes.

By using a flexible eAssessment framework and providing pedagogic and technical support we have enabled colleagues in different disciplines to develop novel question types targeted at their particular learning outcomes. The activities have succeeded in engaging students by focusing on an interactive exchange around defined learning outcomes. Multiple attempts and instant iterative feedback are standard.

The generation of the assessments was academically demanding and at times technically complex but the resource demands are mitigated by large scale re-use. Colleagues who engaged in this initiative have stimulated wider use of eAssessment within the university.

The iCMA initiative has demonstrated that the scope of eAssessment can be extended considerably and is pedagogically valuable. Wider implementation requires investment in two areas; the underlying computational systems and staff development.

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