Using Computer-Based Assessment and Feedback: Meeting the Needs of Digital Natives in the Digital Age

Using Computer-Based Assessment and Feedback: Meeting the Needs of Digital Natives in the Digital Age

Akrum Helfaya, James O'Neill
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-0420-8.ch040
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This article describes how assessment and feedback represent two key factors that affect students' learning. Using e-assessment with prompt e-feedback reduces the gap between present and desired performance and is considered to be a reflexive and dynamic system in dealing with the new generation of digital natives. Action research was used to investigate students' perception of using computer-based assessment (CBA) and/or computer-based feedback (CBF) in teaching and learning process. Both semi-structured interviews and focus groups were conducted with 44 UG students to assess their perceptions of using CBA and CBF. Findings show that students are generally agreed on the use of and benefits of CBA and/or CBF in teaching accounting and non-accounting modules. For example, these results reveal that many participants valued working online compared to traditional assessment and appreciated the instant feedback they received. Additionally, technology can provide an avenue for assessment and personalised and comprehensive prompt feedback that diverse and digital students need in the 21st Century Higher Education.
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Over the last decade, a significant debate has arisen about the skills 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, Wikipedia, Linkedln, etc., (Brown & Czerniewicz, 2008), and the best way of involving diverse digital citizens in higher education institutes (HEIs) (e.g., Bullen et al., 2011; Dabbagh, 2007; Debuse & Lawley, 2016; Jones et al., 2010). Online distance learning has seen a vast growth in the last decade, which is expected to continue in the future. In their recent study Gros et al. (2012) reveal that the main reason is that regular use of technology in everyday life indicates that skilled digital learners are able to transmit their digital knowledge and experience to teaching and learning activities (see, also, Jaggars & Xu, 2016; Maier et al., 2016; Wollscheid et al., 2016). Indeed, we cannot ignore that using technology in teaching and learning in higher education (T&L in HE) is a key factor to meet the expectations of “digital citizens” and “digital migrants” (Bayne & Ross, 2007; Debuse & Lawley, 2016; Kim, 2015; Kirkwood & Price, 2005; Oblinger & Oblinger, 2005; Van der Kleij et al., 2015).

The wide use of technology to improve assessment and feedback is a growth area in HE as a response to meet the needs of “the Net Generation” (see, for example, Biggs, 2003, Biggs & Tang, 2011; Bullen et al., 2011; Carless, 2007; Dabbagh, 2007; Debuse & Lawley, 2016; Maier et al., 2016; Race, 2005). Race (2005), for example, stated that teachers are finding that online feedback will enhance the process of providing instant and useful feedback, and generate appropriate evidence for the quality of feedback. Additionally, tutors can use both computer-based assessment (CBA) and computer-based feedback (CBF) to provide timely information on the students’ performance and to diagnose and analyse the weaknesses and strengths of their students. Equally, Biggs and Tang (2011) add that using technology in assessment and feedback will motivate and support students to improve their learning as well as provide teachers with feedback about the effectiveness of their T&L approaches (see, also, Jaggars & Xu, 2016; Maier et al., 2016; Wollscheid et al., 2016). Joint Information Systems Committee (2010, p.5) states that “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. At the same time, assessment and feedback forms a significant part of practitioners’ workloads and, with increased numbers, reduced budgets, and higher learner expectations, continue to be a matter of concern for many institutions.”

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