[2] Assessment through technology: engaging & empowering students


Assessment through technology: engaging & empowering students

Author (s)

Vivienne Rogers Senior Lecturer
College of Arts and Humanities



This paper presents some results on using technology to assess students. It arises from work on the blended learning pilot in 2017/18 and seek to address several challenges that seem to be common throughout many parts of the university. These are:

  1. how to get students to attend and engage with the subject material.
  2. how to rigorously assess students prohibiting the use of essay mills.
  3. how to assess students in a rigorous way without an excessively onerous burden on staff to mark.
  4. provide students with the skills that they will need for future employment.

To address these issues, I have trialled two different forms of assessment using technology and making use of the opportunities afforded by the blended learning pilot.

The first form was the use of a weekly computerised test administered through Grademark for a year 2 module instead of a two hour exam in normal exam period. There were ten tests and the top five marks counted towards 50% of the final module mark. This allowed students to decide how they wanted to approach the assessment. Some students took all the tests to maximise their score, whereas others have chosen to do the minimum five. Six tests included both multiple choice and short essay-based questions. Four tests were solely multiple choice. Multiple choice questions were graded according to Bloom’s taxonomy and marks allocated according. Student feedback indicated that they preferred the multiple-choice questions but as a group the results from the multiple-choice weeks were not significantly different from the weeks including the short essays. Students also reported that they liked the system of top five out of ten weekly tests as they felt in control and had greater choice. However, I find that they are working much harder and more consistently throughout the module than when they had a two-hour exam. Marking was also spread out evenly throughout the semester rather than concentrated in the exam period.

The second form of assessment I trialled was created a video in a year 3 module worth 35% replacing the previous blog post and presentation. The task was to create a 5-8 minute video from a list of topics. Students had to submit the script of the video through TurnItIn to check for plagiarism. The script had to be fully referenced. This ensured students didn’t read from articles without acknowledgement. The students also had to appear on the video at some point to ensure they didn’t submit something they didn’t author. The video created several opportunities useful for future employment:

  • it was a pair/group of three assignment so students had to learn to work together,
  • the video element meant they could rehearse or re-record elements to mitigate the nerves of presenting,
  • it taught them some basic video editing skills using Camtasia.

Again the feedback from the students was positive and the quality of the work submitted was generally of a high standard.

I will also reflect on the challenges faced in delivery and creating marking criteria.

Session Outline

This session will be a typical talk but will also include examples of the videos produced (with student permission) and practical guidelines (rubrics, use of blackboard set up).

Key Words

assessment, technology, feedback, engagement

Key Messages

How to set up a video assignment whilst maintaining authorship standards and how to use weekly quizzes to a) promote attendance, b) empower students to be responsible for their own learning and c) manage staff assessment workload. Solutions to some of the technological challenges and issues relating to marking will also be presented.



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