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Student Feedback & Assessment

Assessment is often the driving force for learning. This is highly relevant in e-learning, which is often , or at least perceived to be an optional or supplementary activity. Activities online offer many opportunities to capture the learning process and make judgements about a student's understanding. While technology can play a useful role in supporting assessment, the automation and objective nature of computer-assisted methods, i.e. the limited 'intelligence' of such software, means that we should employ such methods extremely carefully. 

This chapter contains three articles presenting different views of online assessment. Trevor Hawkes's article explores the adoption of what might be described as 'classic' computer aided assessment, that is automatically-marked objective tests. However it has been deployed as a part of a larger strategy and blended with non e-learning activities. In the second article, the BOSS system created in the Department of Computer Science automates the submission and testing of computer programming assignments though the assessment is still left to the tutor. Engineering present a real-time feedback system for rapid assessment in large group teaching situations.

The attraction of this form of assessment is often the capacity to deal with large numbers of students and testing of a wide spectrum of the syllabus and or specific practical skills. There remains some scepticism as to the extent to which objective tests can truly measure higher levels of learning and aspects such as creativity. Certainly, the work required to devise questions to assess those levels of learning is much greater. Such tests can play many roles in the curriculum from diagnostic to summative and each has its required level of technical and operational support.

In the final article in this chapter, Stuart Sutherland considers ways to assess online collaborative activities with the challenge of how to allocate marks to individuals engaged in group working. Although this is not a problem restricted to online group work, there is at least the opportunity in the online setting to capture the process.  The gradual adoption of the web as a communication as well as an information media and the ease of integrating more interactive and student-led activities will bring many others into this area in the future.


An Experiment in Computer-Assisted Assessment
Trevor Hawkes, Mathematics Institute
First appeared in Interactions Issue 6 Autumn 1998

Computer-Based Submission and Assessment in BOSS
Mike Joy & Mick Luck, Department of Computer Science
First appeared in Interactions Isue 6 Autumn 1998

SMS Based Student Feedback, Voting and Notification Systems
Daciana Illiescu & Evor Hines, School of Engineering
First appeared in Interactions Issue 25 Spring 2005

Assessing Online Collaborative Activity on the Warwick MBA
Stuart Sutherland, Warwick Business School
First appeared in Interactions Issue 20 Summer 2003