Formative Online Assessment in E-Learning concLusIon: key PoInts For FormAtIve onLIne Assessment On the basis of the research, and by way of conclusion, listed below are key points to be taken into account when planning, developing, implementing, and reviewing formative online assessment of quality (Bull, 1999; Challis, 2005; Hyde et al., 2003; Kendle & Northcote, 2000; Macdonald, 2004; Stephens, 2001). 1. Planning stage • Assessment must be clearly related to the aims and objectives of the subject. • Plan in advance the competence to be assessed and the way students can demonstrate their performance (evidence of achievement). • Keep in mind that the technology available should not determine the methods used: Online assessment should be pedagogicallyled, not technology-driven. • Make assessment part of the online learning process. The learning strategies and assessment strategies should be developed simultaneously. 2. Development stage • Variety: Include a range of methods for collecting evidence of competence (for example, online portfolios). • Authenticity: Use open-ended tasks that simulate workplace tasks, in order to assess competence development. • Collaboration: Allow interaction between learners and others, and use appropriate communication technologies. • Feedback: Ensure appropriate feedback mechanisms are possible using peer feedback and peer tutoring. • Learner responsibility: Provide options and opportunities for accountability within assessment tasks. 3. Implementation stage • State the assessment criteria in advance to students; be clear about the criteria used for the assessment. • Use pretesting to alleviate student anxiety about ICTs and take account of the access to technology available to students. • Help eliminate cheating by devising ways of knowing about learners’ abilities and by gathering a range of evidence of competence. • For ethical reasons, students should be aware of how their assessment results will be used. • Try to develop learner-centred assessment, using strategies such as self-assessment, adaptive assessment or collaborative assessment, and allowing students to participate more in the assessment process. 4. Review stage • Share resources with other experts to help enhance one’s own materials. • Keep up to date with the constantly changing technology. • Review and evaluate the assessment strategies used, the evidence collected and judgments of other assessors in order to validate assessment. Future reseArch dIrectIons Online assessment is seen by many as useful for assessing lower order skills, such as the recall of knowledge, while being not well equipped to assess higher order skills, such as the ability to apply knowledge in new situations or to evaluate and synthesize information (Ashton, Beevers, Milligan, Schofield, Thomas & Youngson, 2006). The future trends in formative online assessment research should be directed to the assessment of complex skills. ICTs are often used to simulate
Formative Online Assessment in E-Learning the context of professional practice in education, but we know little about how to involve the assessment of competences (complex skills with their underlying knowledge structures and attitudes, van Merriënboer, 1997; for example, designing a house in the case of an architect) in e-learning. Currently, institutions of higher education are confronted with a demand for competence-based learning (CBL), which is expected to narrow the gap between learning in the educational setting and future workplace performance (Bastiaens & Martens, 2000). The assessment task is described in terms of a certain performance that is perceived as worthwhile and relevant to the learner, and can therefore be defined as performance assessment (Wiggins, 1989). Performance assessment focuses on the ability to use combinations of acquired skills and knowledge, and therefore fits in well with the theory of powerful learning environments (Linn, Baker, & Dunbar, 1991). Because the goals as well as the methods of instruction are oriented towards integrated and complex curricular objectives, it is necessary for assessment practices to reflect this complexity and to use various kinds of assessments in which learners have to interpret, analyze, and evaluate problems and explain their arguments. In CBL, it is important that a number of performance assessments are organized to gather reliable and valid information about a learner’s competence development (Sluijsmans et al., 2006). Thus, the learner is required to perform similar types of tasks in a variety of situations under the same conditions. Many efforts have been made to implement CBL in face-to-face education, but an electronic learning environment represents a still greater challenge. The integrated simulations can be used to provide answer mechanism, feedback, or different forms of assessment, and students can be assessed in the same environment in which they learn. Measuring competencies requires the implementation of new andinnovative processes. Online formative assessment can be used as a competency teaching method that arouses interest and reflective processes, activates prior knowledge, clarifies meanings, and provides information about learners’ progress. Online collaborative assessment can model appropriate learning strategies and create online communities of learners. For instance, online portfolios could be incorporated to measure complex and transferable skills. Anyway, further research is required to better understand the nature of competency-based performance assessment in e-learning and the strategies and tools needed to assess the learners’ competency. reFerences Agra, M. J., Gewerc, A., & Montero, M. L. (2003). El portafolios como herramienta de análisis en experiencias de formación online y presenciales. Enseñanza, 23, 101-114. Armitage, S., & O’Leary, R. (2003). A guide for learning technologists. Learning and teaching support network. York, UK: LTSN Generic Center. Ashton, H.S., Beevers, C. E., Milligan, C. D., Schofield, D. K., Thomas, R. C., & Youngson, M. A., (2006). Moving beyond objective testing in online assessment. In S.L. Howell & M. Hricko (Eds.), Online assessment & measurement. Case studies from higher education, K-12 and Corporate (pp. 116-128). Hershey, PA: Idea Group. Assessment Reform Group. (1999). Assessment for learning: Beyond the black box. Cambridge, UK: University of Cambridge School of Education. Retrieved October 29, 2007, from http://arg. educ.cam.ac.uk/AssessInsides.pdf Banta, T. W. (Ed.). (2003). Portfolio assessment: Uses, cases, scores and impact. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.