Tag Archives: eAssessment

Do Exams ‘Pass’ under CfE?⤴

from @ stuckwithphysics.co.uk

After more than five years of ongoing development in Scottish secondary schools, the Curriculum for Excellence has reached its first round of ‘gold standard’ Higher examinations. Though the contents of many courses have been significantly revised, and a sizeable portion of the overall marks may come from a piece of coursework conducted in school, the essence of the exam system remains largely the same. For most candidates, almost everything rests on a set of examinations, each lasting not much more than a couple of hours that bear little relation to any ‘real life’ tasks.

To a number of educators, the lack of a radical change in the approach to assessment at the upper levels of CfE represents a missed opportunity. To many more the new assessment arrangements for the new qualifications, and the instruments of assessment themselves, with their unnecessarily complicated marking and recording, are a backwards step where a more flexible and progressive system could have been adopted.

What shape such a system might take would no doubt result in a great deal of debate, with the various interests of learners, employers, parents, the higher and further education sectors, all needing to be addressed.

I don’t flatter myself that the following proposals are ideal, but to my mind they offer some improvements over the current arrangements.

1. All SQA qualifications to have a ‘certificate’ level of attainment based solely on unit assessments completed in school.

This extends the approach used for National 4 courses upward, but would only work with significant revision to the process of assessing individual units within subjects. The assessments would be attempted ‘on demand’ by candidates, when they feel they are ready to do so, ideally using secure online ‘eAssessment’ approaches, which would be provided by the SQA, overseen by centres and accessed by candidates via their Glow login. Such a system could relatively easily be set up to match individual questions against key areas and skills, if this level of detail had to be retained.

If this system is rigorous and the assessment is fit for purpose, this could raise the perception of worth of National 4, whilst allowing candidates following N5, Higher, and Advanced Higher courses to provide evidence of having completed these courses, if not necessarily having mastered them. Such a level of attainment may be sufficient for some employers, apprenticeships , FE and HE instutions (and may be useful to encourage S6 pupils not to ‘go off the boil’ when unconditional offers are received).

2. All qualifications to have an elective terminal summative assessment – ‘final exam’ – which awards candidates grades A – D, based on their performance.

These graded examinations would likely be undertaken by the bulk of candidates (assuming there is no change to the traditional desire for candidates to gain graded qualifications). Such an approach at National 4 would give these courses greater perceived worth, with candidates, parents, employers and colleges.

Graded certicates would continue to serve their current purpose, providing evidence of a level of attainment in order for candidates to progress to the next stage of their learning, whether that be from N5 to Higher, or university entrance.

3. Separate certification of Added Value Units and Assignments within curricular areas.

Candidates at all levels are expected to complete these tasks in many of their subjects. They may repeat very similar tasks a number of times, especially when they study two subjects in the same curricular area – e.g. two social subjects or sciences. Such repetition of these tasks brings little benefit to the candidates involved, increases their workload, and that of their teachers. Reducing the number of these tasks could free up time to allow for a less rapid pace to be adopted in the delivery of the courses and to help candidates consolidate their knowledge.

Clearly these  proposals would require further significant changes to an education system that has already gone through unprecedented change in the last decade. It is clear, however, that the new system is far from ideal and that a different approach is needed.

I have no doubt that there are significant flaws in my proposals, and I would be delighted if readers would take the time to advise me of any shortcomings, or improvements they can see.

Please feel free to add your thoughts via the comments below.

EDUtalk at eAssessment Scotland 2014⤴

from @ John's World Wide Wall Display

I am having a day’s holiday from Glow on Friday taking the Radio EDUtalk mic to eAssessment Scotland conference.

We have broadcast from the conference for the last couple of years and always have had great conversations.

It might be too late to book your free place but you can keep up with the conference by listening to the live broadcasts throughout the day at the Live shows and stream page on EDUtalk.

We will also publish the audio as podcasts after the event.

If things go to plan and follow the patter no preceding years will will broadcast short interviews/conversations with speakers and presenters over the day and announce them on twitter as we go.

If you are listening from afar you can tweet a question using the #edutalk hashtag on twitter.

The way in which students are assessed fundamentally affects their learning⤴

from @ TecnoTeach


What contribution can technology make to the assessment process?  Is it just a faster way to gather in data and feedback results?  Is it just an electronic method of assessing at the end of a learning block?  Is it too clinical and not personal?  If you answer yes to the above questions then you have probably not had experience of using ePortfolios, blogs, wikis, simulation games, content creation applications etc.


The JISC Effective Assessment in a Digital Age publication explains the 'what, why and how' to integrate eAssessment into the learning process with an emphasis on the 'how' more than the 'what'.

Yes, technology has the potential to enhance/facilitate assessment but to be transformational it needs to have a clear educational purpose and engagement.  It should not just be used!


If using technology to assess it should have opportunities for:


  • Dialogue and Communication
  • Immediacy and Contingency
  • Authenticity
  • Speed and was of Processing
  • Self-Evaluative, Self-Regulated Learning
  • Additionality
Learners should have access to wide range of tools and choice of methods of presenting knowledge to encourage a deeper level of enquiry.  To become independent lifelong learners students need to develop self-monitoring and self-regulating against defined criteria to promote deeper and more effective learning.


The publication defines four broad perspectives on learning: Associative, Constructivist, Social Constructivist and Situative.  These four perspectives can work independent of one another or can be interconnected.  The table below provides an overview of each perspective and the assessment approach associated with it.


This publication hosts ten case studies that are set in Higher Education. Each case study employs different eAssessment methods and approaches depending on the nature of the learning environment and the purpose of the assessment.



JISC (2010) Effective assessment in a digital age.  Bristol: HEFCE.

The way in which students are assessed fundamentally affects their learning⤴

from @ TecnoTeach


What contribution can technology make to the assessment process?  Is it just a faster way to gather in data and feedback results?  Is it just an electronic method of assessing at the end of a learning block?  Is it too clinical and not personal?  If you answer yes to the above questions then you have probably not had experience of using ePortfolios, blogs, wikis, simulation games, content creation applications etc.


The JISC Effective Assessment in a Digital Age publication explains the 'what, why and how' to integrate eAssessment into the learning process with an emphasis on the 'how' more than the 'what'.

Yes, technology has the potential to enhance/facilitate assessment but to be transformational it needs to have a clear educational purpose and engagement.  It should not just be used!


If using technology to assess it should have opportunities for:


  • Dialogue and Communication
  • Immediacy and Contingency
  • Authenticity
  • Speed and was of Processing
  • Self-Evaluative, Self-Regulated Learning
  • Additionality
Learners should have access to wide range of tools and choice of methods of presenting knowledge to encourage a deeper level of enquiry.  To become independent lifelong learners students need to develop self-monitoring and self-regulating against defined criteria to promote deeper and more effective learning.


The publication defines four broad perspectives on learning: Associative, Constructivist, Social Constructivist and Situative.  These four perspectives can work independent of one another or can be interconnected.  The table below provides an overview of each perspective and the assessment approach associated with it.


This publication hosts ten case studies that are set in Higher Education. Each case study employs different eAssessment methods and approaches depending on the nature of the learning environment and the purpose of the assessment.



JISC (2010) Effective assessment in a digital age.  Bristol: HEFCE.

Shane Sutherland- Personalising the Assessment Experience: PebblePad⤴

from

I like PebblePad. Why? Institutionally provided, personally controlled.
Shane Sutherland’s seminar on @PebblePad was extremely informative; and amusing for those of us paying close enough attention to spot his play on ‘student’ names, Atrick, Jerry, was my personal favourite. Composing myself enough that I didn’t share this humour with my best friend during his presentation, I was soon fully engaged in PebblePad and the wonders it holds.
My favourite aspect of the PebblePad ePortfolio was its adaptability. At the very start of the seminar, Shane commented that at all times you must know your audience, PebblePad allows you to pick and choose who you share information with, ensuring that certain things remain private between student and tutor, or can go public across the entire web, or you can simply save work for your own personal viewing; sending it on only when you are happy with it. In this sense PebblePad is almost like a personal PC on the web, hugely beneficial with information being able to be picked up, edited, saved and shared anywhere. The really great thing about controlling the content of your PebblePad is that it can potentially be used in all aspects of your life; personal, educational and professional.
In terms of eAssessment, PebblePad allows a student to submit a ‘working progress’ for feedback and advice from tutors; this not only enhancing the students learning curve, it allows the tutor to assess based on personal development. Feedback is instantaneous and the student can reply to the feedback for additional support, clarification, or to simply say ‘thanks’. These may all sound like fairly simply tools, but, as a recent graduate, I can assure you these simple forms of communication between tutor and student make a huge difference to a person’s learning experience; it’s nice just knowing that support is there.
I am also a huge fan of the fact that assessments are sent to tutors via links rather than PDF. This allows students to correct stupid errors that were missed when the assignment was first handed in without having to send the ‘Please ignore the first submission…’ e-mail; the link simply takes the tutor to the most recently saved piece of work! I did however wonder if the updates recorded date and time; I can imagine a lot of students would like to think they could get away with slyly updating a piece of work after the deadline…

Pamela Kato- “No Sweat” Simulating Stress for Young Doctors⤴

from

As a researcher for technology relating specifically to Primary and Secondary education, Pamela Kato’s (@pamkato) keynote was, I confess, one that I considered skipping. But, coffee in hand, I found myself sitting second row… and after about 20 seconds the coffee was all but forgotten. Like all the keynote speakers of the day Dr. Kato was vibrant and exciting; and ever so slightly terrifying with her comparison of deaths resulting from medical errors, in the US alone, being the equivalent to a jumbo jet crashing every day of the year- on the plus side I think she cured my fear of flying!
Dr Kato is, for all intents and purposes, a psychologist. Being intrigued by the above statistic, as many would be I am sure, she investigated the root causes of such medical errors, and while at times knowledge is a factor, the overwhelming factor is stress. Solution? Computer games!
My foray into the medical world doesn’t extend past the board game Operation, but I remember the stress well. Hands shaking, brow sweating, the pressure mounting to get that rubber band (do you remember the rubber band? It was the worst!) out without the earth shatter beeeeeeep that meant you had hit the metal wall…. consider that in real life; no longer 5, sitting in the comfort of your own home, playing with friends, but in the operating room with an actual life in your hands. Yeah, I can imagine there would be oodles of pressure. Enter Air Medic Sky 1, the grown-up, more serious Operation.
The interaction that the game allows amazed me. I loved that there was still fantasy, rather than a mega serious hospital mode, Air Medic Sky 1, is, surprisingly enough, set in the sky. The game face is beautiful and as realistic as I can imagine a computer game being. As Dr. Kato said, if the game isn’t fun, no one will play it and no one will learn. She expressed awe that institutions wanted to use this game for assessment purposes; I found no shock in this request, the game is the perfect learning tool and assessment platform. It promotes no stress learning; trial and error without consequences. This can only ever be a good thing; no an amazing thing! If students- from any academic area- can learn and be assessed without stress they will undoubtedly be more confident when they face the situation in the real world. I would never suggest that the virtual world should completely take over the real world for learning environments (especially in the medical profession! I like to know my doctor has treated an actual human before) but a combination of the virtual and real world, I believe, is the perfect concoction.
As a Law student, I was lucky enough to volunteer for the Citizen’s Advice Bureaux; the experience was invaluable, but I was dealing with real people and real problems. My first day (and my second and third…) was terrifying. However, I was also very fortunate to have a forward thinking, unique, creative lecturer who for two years in a row had us take on the role of a United Nations country and fight out their case in a mock Security Council setting. Not exactly virtual, but still I had the real life, without fear or repercussion (apart from a bad grade) experience. This type of learning and assessment is crucial for everything from preparation for the real world, confidence building, to successful learning (I received my best grade in this class).
I loved Pamela Kato’s keynote; it invited questions and ideas that I could never have imagined… and a desire to play computer games that I never had before….

Becka Colley – Please Sir, May I Have More Exams?⤴

from

The second keynote of the morning blended perfectly into where Steve had left off. In keeping with the light-hearted nature of first keynote, Becka was funny and easy to warm to; but still there was an in-depth passion to her presentation and fire in her eyes. Put simply she can only be described as an avid campaigner for assessment evolution; exam and assessment environments need to change for student progression.
Aiming high for a future of exams taken on a Smartphone while doing the shopping, I instantly liked Becka’s angle; 21st Century learning, something we currently lack in the worst way.

Citing studies that prove students need real life learning situations, Becka deplored regimental exams (I will forever have a fear of rickety wooden table filed rooms) and begged for continuous assessment that focuses on the skills students are meant to gain from school- something they are currently missing the point of. In school you are expected to perform well, so you study, you cram and you get the grades, but there is always the nag of why are we doing this? This needs to change. Students need to be briefed on why they are being examined, how they should prepare, and what they should take away from the experience, otherwise learning becomes short-term. Continuous assessment, based on the day to day performance and improvement of students is the only way to move forward.

Why does the current exam and assessment method not work? Because it ignores improvement, creativity, effort, individualism, thought process, opinion… the list could go on and on. The current mode of assessment fails to see the person sitting the paper. This is why that person is failing. Not because they do not understand, but because the examiner, the educator, has failed to understand.

The skills gained at school are essential. The knowledge is important, but the skills to find that knowledge will follow you through life; they are what should be assessed. Because anyone could memorise a textbook; that doesn’t mean they can apply the information to a real life situation.   

Steve Wheeler- Assessment in the Digital Age⤴

from

Mocking a broad Teuchtar accent, Steve Wheeler opened the eAssessment Scotland Conference in Dundee with a light-hearted humour that had the room instantly engrossed in the first keynote of the day. Of course the accent was not just a fun antidote; soon Steve was drawing witty parallels between international miscommunications and growing language barrier between the Digital Generation and the rest of the world. Education needs to change, this is widely agreed, but assessment appears to have missed the revolution movement. Teach the way they learn; assess the way they learn.
Borrowing from the greats, Steve firmly made his point that today’s schooling is not working:
 I have never let my schooling interfere with my educationMark Twain.
Knowledge that is acquired under compulsion obtains no hold on the mind – Plato.
We are preparing today’s children for a largely unknown future – David Warlick (Cathy Davidson, in her new book Now You See It also purports that 65% of careers do not exist yet).
One-size-fits-all is almost a thing of the past within education (or at least educators are trying very hard to make it so), therefore one begs the question, why is assessment still so standardised?! I read recently that the Scottish education system is one of the best in the world (see OECD, Quality and Equity of Schooling in Scotland), our Secondary school assessment process is largely successful (foundation, general credit, intermediate, higher etc) but still we see a huge lack of personality. Knowledge is being assessed on how much you can remember in a two hour period for unknown questions under extreme stress (I should know after several near melt downs during my education). The student is not being assessed on their ability, they are being measured against others to a sheet of neatly prepared answers that they must know almost telepathically or they fail. One thing that really struck me during Steve’s keynote was his philosophical wisdom v knowledge; knowing everything at the drop of a hat is not the point, knowing where to find the information is. Digital wisdom is the new learning capital.
As an obsessive learner I was thrilled when a term came up that I had never come across before; Ipsative Assessment. My basic understanding of this term is bettering oneself, i.e. competing against your own past marks and improving. As far as I am concerned this is how assessment should always be carried out, after all the purpose of school and education is surely to expand one’s own learning sphere. No one should be considered smarter, or dumber than anyone else, we all learn at different rates, we all take in different things; why? Because we are all different! Schooling needs to take hold of the fact that no one is the same, and that’s not a bad thing. If we were all the same and had the same learning curve we would all be doctors, or lawyers, or pilots, and the world would be a very dull place.  
I love the idea of Ipsative Assessment (just so we are clear on that). Since last Friday my brain has been working overtime with everything I heard and saw at eAssessment, but this has definitely been at the forefront of my mind. I don’t understand why the education sector didn’t jump on this 10, 20 years ago! 

eAssessment Scotland. Friday 26th August. Dundee. My first ever conference.⤴

from


New suit on- tags only removed that morning- briefcase complete with multiple pens, highlighters, notebooks and laptop, and handbag full to the brim with just-in-case essentials; water, tissues, snacks, filofax, smartphone, more pens… I was over prepared. But it was my first conference. I had no idea what to expect. The free coffee on tap was a welcome surprise.

The first half hour was… daunting. The words small fish in a big pond had never meant more to me. I picked up some leaflets to fill the third bag I had accumulated on arrival. I made a mental note of those I wanted to speak with when my confidence finally kicked in and I made sure I knew where I was going before I had to go there.

09.30; show time. I must admit I was excited. Giddy, you might say; a child thrown from University into the adult world. Entering Lecture Theatre 3 was like being embrace in a safety blanket, lecture theatres were my turf. I did have to endure the odd “You must be the youngest person in the room” and yes I was intimidated by the professionals surrounding me, until Steve Wheeler started to speak. I was enthralled instantly, having loved the eloquence and wit of his Blog I was thrilled to see the same shine through in his presentation. When he asked the room if they had heard of Cathy Davidson’s new book, Now You See It, I knew I had earned my seat, while most around me had furrowed brows that could only mean ‘no’, I raised my hand timidly, smiling proudly, that not only had I heard of the book I had done a great deal of research on it and its author. Confidence was building, doubt was easing.

11.00; Lego time! I had signed up to the Lego NXT Robot workshop, and I was very excited about it. Living Marc Prensky’s Digital Immigrants I was quickly put to IT shame by the 10 year old helpers within the group. My robot would do nothing I wanted it to; my helper had it moving in a perfect square and declaring “Good job” in no time. The curriculum possibilities that these robots allowed for amazed me just as much as the children who programmed them.

12.30. After having my Lego robot prised from my unwilling hands it was time for lunch. As everyone mingled I knew I had to ignore the fear and discover. Working my way around the stalls, PebblePad, Televic Education, Question Mark (headline sponsor), eCom Scotland etc etc, I talked, I perused, I learned, I made contacts. Then I ate; lunch was really good!

13.30; back to the lecture theatre. Pamela Kato’s keynote was the highlight of the conference for me (topped only by her following me on Twitter!). Her presentation was funny, engaging and surprising. Never would I have thought that Serious Games for student doctors could relate so much to the needs of primary and secondary education in Scotland.

14.10; ePortfolios. Disappointed that I never secured a spot in the App App and Away workshop I went into the afternoon seminars with little expectation. I came out buzzing with hundreds of new ideas and the opportunities that ePortfolios offer. Shane Sutherland, PebblePad, and Gordon McLeod, Mahara, offered enthusiastic, informative presentations.

Unfortunately at 15.30 I had to leave; train to catch. I left the conference exhausted but highly enthused. My brand new suit was well worn in, the jacket long abandoned and stuffed in one of my many bags; I was strongly regretting taking my laptop (and several other contents of my bags) but still I was smiling. I got on the train looking a little worse for wear but the notebook was straight back out and the ideas were flowing….
Detailed Blogs of all events to follow.

A banking scheme that’s paying off⤴

from @ eCurriculum Blog

"Very useful, informative & motivational"

Last week we finished the initial phase of our Bank on Success project based training initiative with 35 individuals taking part over the 4 days we ran our workshops.

The deal that in exchange for a free training day delegates would send back 2 x 10 question assessments seems to be a sound model and we'll be busy processing everyones' hard work and BonSlogo putting them on our web site over the next 6 weeks or so. These assessments just keep rolling in!  In fact the enthusiasm was such that many participants managed to complete one of the assessments on the day. We were also able to include images and hyperlinks in questions and feedback  using the template used for question design.

"An excellent session - I feel entirely confident that I could now go back and develop e-Assessments and also show the rest of my staff group how to go about it"

The opportunity to consolidate new skills learned on training days provided by the project model is what it's about really with the bank of questions that will become available to the sector an additional positive outcome but not an end in itself.

The feedback has been very encouraging and we'll be rolling the concept out in the new academic session so if you're from an institution we support in the West of Scotland and interested in finding out more about e-Assessment contact me or support@rsc-sw-scotland.ac.uk and we'll keep you informed.

"Just the right mix of theory & practice"