Student acceptance of online assessment with e-authentication in the UK

Okada, Alexandra; Whitelock, Denise; Holmes, Wayne and Edwards, Chris (2018). Student acceptance of online assessment with e-authentication in the UK. In: 20th International Conference Technology Enhanced Assessment (TEA 2017): Revised Selected Papers, Communications in Computer and Information Science, pp. 109–122.



It has been suggested that the amount of plagiarism and cheating in high-stakes assessment has increased with the introduction of e-assessments (QAA, 2016), which means that authenticating student identity and authorship is increasingly important for online distance higher education. The investigation reported in this paper focuses on the implementation and use in the UK of an adaptive trust-based e-assessment system known as TeSLA (An Adaptive Trust-based e-Assessment System for Learning) currently being developed by an EU-funded project involving 18 partners across 13 countries. TeSLA combines bio-metric instruments, textual analysis instruments and security instruments. This study based on Responsible Research and Innovation - RRI examines the attitudes and experiences of UK students who used the TeSLA instruments. In particular, it considers whether the students found the e-authentication assessment to be a practical, secure and reliable alternative to traditional proctored exams. Data includes pre- and post- questionnaires completed by 328 students of The Open University, who engaged with the TeSLA keystroke analysis and anti-plagiarism software. The findings suggest a broadly positive acceptance of these e-authentication technologies. However, based on statistical implicative analysis, there were important differences in the students’ responses between genders, between age groups and between students with different amounts of previous e-assessment experiences. For example, men were less concerned about providing personal data than women; middle-aged participants (41 to 50 years old) were more aware of the nuances of cheating and plagiarism; while younger students (up to 30 years old) were more likely to reject e-authentication.

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