#ocTEL week 6 – Assessment and Feedback, ‘If you do only one thing’

Hoping to do more than one thing on #ocTEL this week, but here’s my starter for ten.

This blog post will be discussing and critiquing assessment methods available on technology-enhanced learning courses.

Method 1: Online test

  • How does the assessment align with the course learning outcomes?

Tends to be more appropriate for lower level learning i.e. factual recall, unless the questions are exceptionally well-designed!  Some technologies will allow a variety of question types such as multiple choice, short answer, fill in the blanks etc

  • What kind of feedback would the learner receive and how would this contribute to her progress

Generic feedback received on correct/incorrect answers.  I haven’t seen a test which could provide feedback on overall performance, but I guess this could be done (e.g. within a particular range of marks overall, you would get a particular set of feedback).  Even though the feedback is generic, if carefully designed it can be a useful feed-forward to encourage students to correct their mistakes and do better this time.  I feel it lends itself to formative assessment, but could also be used summatively (and indeed was by a colleague at my former institution).  This type of assessment can often be linked with drill and all the negative connotations that has in education.  However, in my subject discipline of accounting, this type of technique can be important at introductory level, as students need to master basic techniques such as costing in management accounting and accounts preparation in financial accounting.

  • Which technologies would support this?

Many VLEs have this functionality, either directly or via a plug-in.  I have also seen demos of Google Drive (formerly Google Docs) being used in this way. 

Method 2: Assessed participation in e-moderated discussions

  • How does the assessment align with the course learning outcomes?

Again, depends on how it is designed.  I think this can be quite powerful in arts and social sciences disciplines, where there are not necessarily correct answers but the aim is to encourage students to provide a coherent argument.  I think this can work effectively when a multiply-sided argument is put forward and needs to be unpacked and critiqued.

  • What kind of feedback would the learner receive and how would this contribute to her progress

Ideally, this type of discussion would prompt peer feedback on a student’s contributions and/or tutor feedback as tutor is weaving discussion thread.  I think there might be difficulties taking the feedback and applying it to different parts of the syllabus – in my experirence as a learner in this situation, you tend to not be able to dissociate the content from the feedback.

I think these work best when they are summative but only a small proportion of the course.  If formative, not all will see the benefits of participating and the discussion could risk being dominated by the vocal few.

  • Which technologies would support this?

Discussion boards, Twitter, captured chat e.g. in Blackboard Collaborate, email list etc.

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One thought on “#ocTEL week 6 – Assessment and Feedback, ‘If you do only one thing’

  1. Interesting post Ali, I enjoyed reading it.

    Linking this back to previous discussions about learning theories, I guess the use of online tests as you describe them here would align with behaviourist/associative theories, while the assessment as part of moderated online discussions would fall more into the social constructivist framework. As you say, these approaches can be useful at different stages of learning, depending on the subject area.

    I hope Gilly Salmon will be covering some of the points you’ve raised about moderated discussions during her webinar on Wednesday, so you might want to have a question or two ready for her!

    Linda

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