Staff Reflections on Using E-Assessment Feedback in the Digital Age

Staff Reflections on Using E-Assessment Feedback in the Digital Age

Akrum Helfaya (Keele University, UK & Damanhour University, Egypt) and James O'Neill (Keele University, UK)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 29
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5936-8.ch016


Assessment and feedback represent two of the key elements that affect students' learning. Using e-assessment with productive and instant e-feedback reduces the gap between current and preferred performance of the new generation of digital students. Action research methodology was used to investigate staff perception of using e-assessment feedback in the teaching and learning process. To achieve this aim, a survey was administered to 48 full-time academics to collect data about their perceptions of using e-assessment and/or e-feedback to assess their students' performance. And then seven semi-structured interviews were conducted with the staff. Findings from staff survey and interviews show that the teaching staff is generally in agreement with the use of and benefits of e-assessment and/or e-feedback in teaching business and management modules. Using technology, therefore, can provide an avenue for innovative assessment and prompt feedback methods that meet the needs of the digital students in the digital age in an efficient and effective manner.
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During the last decade, a significant debate has arisen about the characteristics of the current generation of students due to their intensive use of technology and social media including, blogs, forums, photo and video sharing, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc., (Brown & Czerniewicz, 2008), and the best way of engaging digital natives in higher education institutes (e.g., Bullen et al., 2011; Holtzblatt & Tschakert, 2011; Dabbagh, 2007; Jones et al., 2010). E-Learning has seen vast growth in the last decade, which is expected to continue in the future (Potter & Johnston, 2006). Indeed, educationalists cannot ignore that using Information Communication Technology (ICT) in teaching and learning in higher education (T&L in HE) is a key factor to meet the expectations of digital natives (Bayne & Ross, 2007; Holtzblatt & Tschakert, 2011; Kirkwood & Price, 2005; Jebeile & Abeysekera, 2010). The wide use of ICT to improve assessment and feedback is one of the fastest growth areas in HE (Biggs & Tang, 2011; Bullen et al., 2011; Dabbagh, 2007). Race (2005), stated that teachers are finding that e-feedback will speed up the process of providing prompt and constructive feedback, and generating appropriate evidence for the quality of feedback. Lecturers can e-Assessment and/or e-Feedback to provide timely information on the students’ performance, to diagnose the weaknesses and strengths of their learners, to support students to improve their learning as well as provide lecturers with feedback about the effectiveness of their T&L approaches (Biggs & Tang, 2011; Maneekhao et al., 2006).

According to Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) (2010, p. 5) “Assessment lies at the heart of the learning experience: how learners are assessed shapes their understanding of the curriculum and determines their ability to progress.” Actually, the different academic departments at the Management School at a British University are still using the traditional paper-based assessments and late handwritten feedback on these types of assessments. With the possibility that using e-Assessment-Feedback may shape learners’ expectations and engagements in the T&L process (Aisbitt & Sangster, 2005; JISC, 2010; Maneekhao et al., 2006; Parshall et al., 2000), the accounting, economics and finance groups recently decided to use ICT in teaching their modules using e-Assessment-Feedback. For example, as seen in Figure 1, at a macro level, universities and students, the university asked teaching Staff for diverse assessments and more electronic and prompt feedback. Further, students asked their lecturers for more timely, comprehensive and typed feedback. While at a micro level, these academic departments, professional bodies such as Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) and Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) start to adopt the computer-based test at various levels. Furthermore, such e-Assessment and e-Feedback are not well-developed and widely used methods at universities. Finally, at a meso level, the accounting, economics and finance groups, for example, believe that using e-Assessment-Feedback may lead to more students’ engagement and help to introduce new online accounting, economics and finance modules. Responding to the above calls, some academic staff decided to use technology in assessing undergraduate Management School’s students. In the light of this, the aim of this research is to assess the Management School staff’s perceptions of the use of e-Assessment-Feedback they received on their T&L process and assessing the performance of their learners.

Figure 1.

Fanghanel’s (2007) Contexts for Action Research


Key Terms in this Chapter

National Student Survey: It is an annual survey and is designed to evaluate the final-year undergraduate students' opinions of the quality of their degree programs at the UK higher education institutions.

E-Assessment: It is also called the online assessment/computer-based assessment in which the information technology is used to assess students’ academic progress.

Digital Age: It is also known as the information age when the personal computer was introduced in the 1970s and then information technology was introduced to provide users the ability to transfer information easily and swiftly.

Digital Native/Student: A student born in the age of information communication technology and consequently s/he is familiar with the use of social media, computer/iPhone/iPad and the internet from an early age.

Information Communication Technology: It refers to the use of technological tools such as the internet, iPhones, iPads, computers, etc., to communicate information wirelessly to users and to enable them to access, store, share, and use information.

Virtual Learning Environment: It is a web-based platform to deliver and share teaching and assessment materials (e.g., reading list, module handbook, lectures’ notes, tutorials’ questions, e-assessments, and e-feedbacks) with students.

Social: Media: They refer to websites and applications that assist users to design and share information, ideas, interests, etc., and to socially communicate with others via the virtual networks.

Students Engagement: The students’ ability to collaborate with their lectures/tutors within and beyond classrooms in every aspect of their learning. Teaching and learning process is a participative sport not a spoon-feeding.

E-Feedback: It is also called the online feedback/computer-based feedback in which the information technology is used to give students feedback on their assessments.

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