Attitudes and Perceptions Towards Summative E-Assessment for Free-Text Responses: A Case Study of a UAE University

Attitudes and Perceptions Towards Summative E-Assessment for Free-Text Responses: A Case Study of a UAE University

Marielle Patronis (Zayed University, Dubai, UAE), Fawzi Fayez Ishtaiwa-Dweikat (Zayed University, Dubai, UAE), Mouawiya Al Awad (Zayed University, Dubai, UAE) and Ibtehal M. Aburezeq (Al Ain University of Science and Technology, Al Ain, UAE)
DOI: 10.4018/IJICTE.2019010102
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The key aim of this study is to provide an overview of students' and instructors' attitudes and perceptions towards the potential benefits and challenges of summative e-assessment for their writing courses at a UAE university. A mixed method of quantitative and qualitative analysis is used. The findings of the study revealed that a majority of student participants reported reasonable satisfaction with the e-assessment tool in terms of screen layout and background, interface design and ease of use and access. However, they indicated their preference to “pen and paper” exams. Instructor participants identified a number of challenges associated with using summative e-assessment in the writing courses, which would require educational institutions to make changes to promote the success of e-assessment.
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Higher education institutions are witnessing significant movement towards the transformation of teaching and learning from the conventional face-to-face to online mode of delivery (Hew & Cheung, 2014; Soffer, Kahan, & Livne, 2017; Toven-Lindsey, Rhoads, & Lozano, 2015). Accordingly, several studies and projects have been carried out to enhance students’ learning, engagement and motivation (Shih, 2017). Online education has recently grown to become a major research interest worldwide. In each of these studies, online education proved to afford meaningful learning opportunities that extend within and beyond the traditional face-to-face approach (Ishtaiwa-Dweikat & Aburezeq, 2016; Sharples, Arnedillo-Sánchez, Milrad, & Vavoula, 2009).

Therefore, the need to provide new and meaningful assessment has become necessary to respond to these changes in teaching and learning practices (Yao, 2014). The speedy adoption of e-courses has contributed to many developments in the field of e-assessment (Soffer et al., 2017). Higher education institutions are now increasingly utilizing different types of e-assessment procedures as a part of their assessment process to assess teaching and learning effectiveness, as it is one of the important requirements of regional and international accreditation bodies (Dueben, 2015). Although e-assessment has been widely used in higher education (Dueben, 2015; Sebastianelli & Tamimi, 2011), the topic of e-assessment in higher education is still exploratory. Many challenges remain related to designing and implementing e-assessments, and questions concerning their reliability and validity have arisen.

Moreover, existing research tends to focus on formative e-assessments (discussion boards, blogs and online peer reviews) and their suitability for e-learning (Gikandi, Morrow, & Davis, 2011; McConnell, 2002; Rudland, Schwartz, & Ali, 2011). Little is known about summative e- assessment and its effectiveness in free-text responses, especially in the Arab world. Subsequently, the aim of this study was to provide an overview on how undergraduate students and instructors perceive the potential benefits and/or challenges of summative e-assessment in their writing courses at Zayed University (ZU) in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

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