Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Unsupervised online constructed-response tests

Genevieve Johnson started by looking at how new technologies are often used in the same way as the old technologies (horse-less carriage = car). Therefore the 'e' in assessment is just that - old assessments shifted online.

Diagnostic testing plays an important part in shaping a course, and formative assessment shapes the teaching. It is a way of enabling learners to see if they are ready to go on to the next step (although this worries me as it means that all the students in a class have to be at a specific point at a common time before they can move on).

In HE Johnson purports that technology is changing teaching, but the patterns are still really familiar.The grade that appears on a certificate has 'consequences' - for now that's what we're stuck with. Even when a course is online we need a grade. One of the re-occurring criticisms of technology and e-assessment is 'how do we know it's the student's work?' What are we to say? With the first cars there was no infrastructure, and people using the horse and buggy trotted past when cars broke down. There are some challenges.

E-assessment is fully online and there are all sorts of mechanisms of proctored exams - but is this just an assumption that we've carried over from the face-to-face environment. At the moment we take the tools we have and try to satisfy the requirements of the critics.

In this particular case-study, the students enrolled on an online course where they were required to complete 3 unsupervised constructed-response tests in Blackboard. The course was organised into weekly modules that included Elluminate Live, readings, discussion and activities. Each modules contained study questions which helped students focus on their learning efforts.

Test items were randomly drawn for a subset of questions corresponding with content covered during specified weeks. Test times were reduced across the three assessments.

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