Tools Report - Introduction

 

Introduction

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In Chapter Six of the Literature Review of this project it was stated that;

“E-learning technology already has a very important role in teaching and learning. Assessment of student learning and evaluation of instruction are of critical importance and can and need to be supported by e-learning technology and strategies (Buzzetto-More & Alade, 2006). Good assessment, especially of formative nature, is complex and substantial effort is required in this area. E-learning technology makes high-quality formative assessment practical by removing some of the constraints limiting higher uptake (Committee on the Foundations of Assessment, 2001). E-learning technologies and approaches can assist in the assessment cycle for formative assessment of student work (Blayney & Freeman, 2004). In brief, this cycle contains stages for the exchange of documents, for communication, for producing artefacts addressing the assessment tasks and for writing feedback. E-learning technologies can assist in all these stages.”

This section explores a range of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) tools that can support the provision of formative assessment. The literature review which accompanies this project has informed the choice of tools. The aim was to provide a clear comparison between the types of technology available at the different stages of the assignment process. The technologies have been placed in one of three categories.      

  • Generic office software: such as Word processors and Spreadsheets
  • Learning Management Systems such as Blackboard and Moodle
  • Specific assessment tools: such as tools designed to tackle one or more assessment styles or issues
  • The assignment marking process can be divided into seven sections (see Table 1):

    1. It starts with supporting students with assignments such as clarifying what is good performance and allowing students to discuss the assignment goals and marking criteria so they understand them.
    2. There is the submission of assignments which can be by a variety of electronic tools.
    3. The preparation of marking is about getting the assignments and organising them. Many of these tasks can be automatic or semiautomatic.
    4. The marking stage is where the lecturers use their professional judgement to prepare feedback. There are a variety of tools to help the lecturer with marking but they all require the expertise of the lecturer.
    5. Keeping records includes recording and analysing marks and feedback, then transferring marks to other systems such as a central database.
    6. Releasing results and feedback is when the lecturer provides the feedback and the marks to the students, facilitates discussion of the feedback and provides opportunities for the student to act on the feedback.
    7. Using assignment experience for future teaching is the final phase. This will be when the lecturer reflects on the process to provide further teaching for the students or to refine the activity for future student cohorts.

    Table 1 outlines the way each class of assessment tool maps onto the stages of the assignment process. A description of specific tools then follows with a table of how each maps to those stages. Finally we describe the features, advantages and disadvantages of a range of assessment tools.

    We completed this description of tools in June 2007. Other tools are available but are not described because they are only available to people at departments or institutions. Further tools are likely to be available but information about these was not accessible at the time of writing.