6. Timely, Effective Assessment and Feedback

This week’s focus is on assessment and feedback. Designing meaningful assessment and feedback, either as a way of deepening understanding (formative) or to gauge levels of knowledge in a more formal way (summative), is always a challenging process. This becomes even more so when faced with large classes, whether in a traditional campus based programme of study or in a blended or online environment. There will inevitably be trade-offs between the time available and the quality of feedback provided.

Here are some of the challenges that we hope this module will help you tackle:

  • How do I provide timely, effective assessment and feedback on my course?
  • What types of technology will be most appropriate for my students?
  • Where can I find out more about the options available?

This week’s aims

We expect that by participating this week, you’ll be more ready to:

  • Describe and critique theoretical frameworks for effective assessment and feedback
  • Describe a range of e-assessment approaches
  • Design assessment activities that align with the course learning outcomes and provide effective feedback
  • Plan an assessment schedule that enables timely feedback, making best use of appropriate technologies

If you only do one thing…

On your blog or via Twitter (using #ocTEL tag), on this forum topic, or via the JiscMail list, list and critique up to three different assessment approaches available on Technology Enhanced Learning courses. Select one type of online assessment suitable for your course and consider the following questions:

  • How does the assessment align with the course learning outcomes?
  • What kind of feedback would the learner receive and how would this contribute to her progress
  • Which technologies would support this?

Come and join the live webinar

You can access this week’s webinar on Wednesday 22nd May via this link. Please note this week’s webinar is at 10:00am rather than the usual 12.30pm. This is to accommodate our very special presenter, Professor Gilly Salmon, who is based in Australia.

Gilly will discuss some of the key aspects of assessment and feedback as part of the overall design of learning activities (e-tivities), based on the framework of her Five Stage Model. This will allow us to reflect on how technology can enhance assessment and feedback in our own context and provide some practical ideas on how to implement it.

Gilly is Pro Vice-Chancellor, Learning Transformations at Swinburne University of Technology. She is internationally renowned for her significant contributions to online education, including research, innovation, program design, teaching methods and the use of new technologies. Recent publications include Podcasting for Learning in Universities and Learning in Groups.

Activities for this week

Activity 6.1: Reading and reflection

(1 hour)

Read pages 5 – 25 of Effective Assessment in a Digital Age (JISC, 2010), then consider the following questions.

  • How does your assessment approach(es) align with the four teaching and learning perspectives (page 11)?
  • How does your assessment approach(es) align with the twelve REAP (Re-Engineering Assessment Practices) principles of effective formative and feedback (page 15)?
  • How would you describe your  assessment design from the manager’s, practitioner’s and  learner’s perspectives (page 17-22)?

Please post your thoughts on your blog or via Twitter (using #ocTEL tag), on this forum topic, or via the JiscMail list.

Activity 6.2: Evaluation and review

(1 hour)

Either take one of the case studies as described in Effective Assessment in a Digital Age (listed pp 28-29) or an example of assessment design from another course participant and

  • assess according to the perspectives and principles in Activity 6.1
  • discuss an alternative form of online assessment that would achieve the same learning goals.

Please post your thoughts on your blog or via Twitter (using #ocTEL tag), on this forum topic, or via the JiscMail list.

Activity 6.3: Discussion

(1 hour)

On your blog or via Twitter (using #ocTEL tag), on this forum topic, or via the JiscMail list, please share your thoughts on the following.

  • What is your own experience of feedback (either as a tutor or as a student) in technology enhanced or online programmes?
  • How can we ensure that students engage with, and act on, in a timely manner the feedback provided?


  • Post your reflection on the online assessment method of your choice #ocTEL
  • Come and hear Gilly Salmon speak on Wednesday at the live webinar
  • Have a browse through the course reader to have a look at what else is going on

Resources and more to watch, read and research

Papers and Reports

Videos, blogs and wikis

Practical Resources and case studies

Notes and commentary

During the course of this week we explore different ways in which technology can support assessment and feedback, both in the classroom and online, and sharing experiences of how some of us have approached this in our own educational context. We look at some of the theories and frameworks that have been developed, and consider how principles can underpin development. ALT’s Technology-Supported Assessment wiki, part of the What research has to say to practice series, is a good place to start. As well as summative assessment and tutor feedback, we also consider self- and peer- assessment, and how students can be encouraged to recognise and act on feedback in different forms.

Significant amounts of funding have been invested in developing new approaches to assessment and feedback in recent years and many of the resources which you are encouraged to look at this week are the outcomes of projects funded by Jisc and the Higher Education Academy in the UK.

What’s coming up next?

Next week’s topic: Supporting Learners with Tutor and Peer Communications, starting 27 May.