Engaging Learners through Continuous Online Assessment



Assessment has long been recognized as a significant driver of student learning. A simplistic description of its function is to provide learners with a focus for study activity and feedback on progress at given points in time. Deeper analysis of the role of assessment reveals aspects of learning, motivation, learner control and metacognitive skill development. The advent of sophisticated computer based assessment systems in recent years creates valuable opportunities to promote student learning in ways that were becoming unmanageable due to weight of numbers and breadth of diversity in university classes. Although the greatest practical benefits may be found within tertiary education, online assessment has potential to enhance individual learning and learner autonomy across all levels from primary school to post graduate courses. Evidence of this can be found in a growing volume of published research and case studies. Contextual analysis across studies now supports the development of ‘best use’ scenarios and frameworks.

This chapter begins with a brief review of developments in online assessment practice over a ten year period, identifies further questions for educational research, and proposes a framework for integrating the use of online assessment into courses for maximum educational benefit. The literature shows the use of online multi-choice assessments originating predominantly in medicine, mathematics and the hard sciences. Expansion of the range of assessment types to include digital portfolios, reflective journals, graded discussions and simulated process models extended its use into management, IT, health and social sciences. With recent increases in the development and use of digital learning resources, ubiquitous networked computing across developed countries and widespread information literacy skills, the potential for online assessment to contribute to a desirable shift from teacher to student centred learning is high. The ultimate aim of this chapter is to present an evidence-based framework for its successful implementation.


learning design formative assessment online learning assessment strategies 


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© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Professional DevelopmentUniversity of AucklandNew Zealand

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