Linking E-Assessment to Student's Use of Online Learning Content

Linking E-Assessment to Student's Use of Online Learning Content

Kar-Tin Lee (Queensland University of Technology, Australia), Hitendra Pillay (Queensland University of Technology, Australia) and Vinesh Chandra (Queensland University of Technology, Australia)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 10
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-845-1.ch070
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Abstract

This article will examine the development and implementation of two information and communications technology (ICT) e-assessment tools—a diagnostic assessment system and an intelligent content assessment marking system—for the teaching of secondary science. An e-learning management system (ELMS, see Figure 1) was used with second-year secondary students in science which provided both content and online assessment tools for teachers. By using this system, teachers had the opportunity to modify how they assessed their students by shifting the skills and knowledge being tested and also when and at which stage of the learning they are tested. The use of the ELMS had also assisted teachers to move away from the narrow confines of standardised tests with their discrete and decontextualized ‘items’ towards more complex, holistic, contextualised, and authentic forms of assessment (e.g., Pellegrino, Chudowski, & Glaser, 2001).
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Introduction

This article will examine the development and implementation of two information and communications technology (ICT) e-assessment tools—a diagnostic assessment system and an intelligent content assessment marking system—for the teaching of secondary science. An e-learning management system (ELMS, see Figure 1) was used with second-year secondary students in science which provided both content and online assessment tools for teachers. By using this system, teachers had the opportunity to modify how they assessed their students by shifting the skills and knowledge being tested and also when and at which stage of the learning they are tested. The use of the ELMS had also assisted teachers to move away from the narrow confines of standardised tests with their discrete and decontextualized ‘items’ towards more complex, holistic, contextualised, and authentic forms of assessment (e.g., Pellegrino, Chudowski, & Glaser, 2001).

Figure 1.

E-learning management system (ELMS)

Using these diagnostic tools for assessment teachers could better help students gain mastery in specific content areas, in particular, the more abstract concepts in science education. The ELMS was used to collate the data from the two assessment tools and provided an additional online diagnostic profiling system (DPS). This profiling tool was then used by teachers to detect the extent and nature of each individual student’s knowledge and competence within topics of study in order to help that learner progress ahead in developing independent mastery and lifelong learning skills.

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Capturing The Potential Of E-Learning And E-Assessment

In schools where traditional assessment modes prevail, teachers are often swamped with setting and marking different forms of assessment, usually aimed at preparing students for high-stake examinations. In order for them to adequately assess which difficulties confronted by students impact learning most strongly, they need effective tools to develop ways and means to collect and analyse data in class. With the help of ICT tools, teachers can locate timely information about student learning which allows them to set meaningful and measurable goals for future learning. Assessment whether online or not can be used as one of the most powerful ways of improving learning. By simply changing the assessment of the subject, teachers can in turn affect the way students engage with the subject content (Black & Wiliam, 1998). New pedagogy is also needed to effectively leverage the use of technology. E-assessment cannot simply invent new technologies which recycle current ineffective practices (QCA, 2004).

As Conole (2004, p.3) pointed out, one of the affordances of ICT is the potential for multimodal and nonlinear approaches to navigating through information. She highlights the fact that the nonlinearity of the Web (epitomised by hypertext and the use of powerful search engines) leads to the potential for different routes through, and forms of, learning. Yet many research studies have concluded that much of the current online training materials still appear to follow a linear, assembly line mode of learning. Many ‘e-learning’ packages are built on behaviourist principles of atomised experiences that need to be completed in a specified order before the individual is positively reinforced and permitted to move on—a form of electronic page-turning (Conole, 2004).

When designing online learning systems, the structure of how learning content is incorporated is vital to its success. According to Boettcher (2003), course content—the material to be learned or studied—is only one of the four key core components of the learning experience. The other three are the teaching, the learner, and the environmental components. In her research, she emphasized that online learning based on well-structured content can impact the identification, selection, and development of course content in three ways:

Key Terms in this Chapter

Diagnostic Profiling System: A tool that intelligently identifies the gaps in student understanding. Where required, the diagnostic process can automatically trigger appropriate learning resources to help the learner start to address any gaps that might have been identified. It is Web-based and facilitates self-paced learning via a complete learning cycle which replicates the teaching and learning process while automating the performance feedback mechanism.

E-Learning Management System: An electronic environment that enables the delivery, management, and administration of a range of learning activities, services, content, and data to better cater for students’ learning needs.

Content Marking Tool: A technology that is able to mark open-ended content like short and paragraph answers for subjects like science and any other content that does not require writing style as a criterion for performance. This system is also able to classify and group various students’ answers especially nonstandard (creative answers) to facilitate immediate classroom discussions.

E-Assessment: Refers to on-demand testing to cater for students who learn at different rates; assessment is provided in a timely manner and is adaptive in nature. It includes automating administrative procedures relating to assessment tasks and digitizing content for online testing which ranges from multiple choice tests to interactive assessments of problem-solving skills.

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