What is it?

e-Assessment is the use of technology to wring more efficiency and value from established initial, formative and summative assessment practices.

What does it look like?

e-Assessment takes many forms. From the iPod and its quiz function, to bespoke assessment packages, to on-line training and assessment, technology is arguably transforming every aspect of assessment practice. But how?

How can teachers, trainers & learners use it?

The iPod quiz function

A traditional approach to preparing learners for, say, a key skills assessment might include a written multiple-choice test paper followed by brief feedback from the assessor. It is not uncommon for these tests to be taken by whole groups of learners at set times and feedback may not be given until days or even weeks after the event. Marking multiple-choice tests can be labour intensive and the quality of feedback can vary greatly. An extreme example? Maybe. But a useful baseline from which to consider the opportunities presented by using technology to add efficiency and value to the process.

eA1At Lakes College, West Cumbria, Paula Stephenson found that her Entry level-3 learners did not respond well to the above approach. She began looking for an alternative and was inspired by her children’s fascination with iPod quizzes. She downloaded the iQuizMaker software from Apple and began transferring her multiple-choice key skills quizzes onto the iPod platform. Paula found that she could tap into the gadget and competition addiction of her learners who not only engaged completely with preparing for their tests, but continually practised their knowledge assessments out of lesson time – because they enjoyed it and they wanted to ‘win’.

99.2% of learners who attempt an exercise three times have an 85%+ chance of mastery. (Mathletics.co.uk)

Read the full case study here: http://www.excellencegateway.org.uk/page.aspx?o=170769

Kwik-Fit voting buttons

Steve Blount, technical trainer at Kwik-Fit’s Training Academy: “When we really looked into why 20% of our short-course learners weren’t passing we realised that it wasn’t that they were failing to cope with the eA2subject, they were just failing to cope with the tests. This took us on a journey that started with solving a dyslexia problem, but ended with a Who Wants to be a Millionaire type approach to assessment.”

Using a voting button system, Steve and his colleagues wrote new initial assessment tests for their short-course provision – replacing the old questioning and group discussions with technology. With this simple approach, unconfident learners were no longer exposed by the assessment process, but could contribute, risk-free, at the press of a button – anonymous to all but the trainer. Initial and formative assessment became fun.

With the instant feedback tutors receive from formative tests, they can quickly change tack mid lesson or identify learners who needed additional support. “The impact has been tremendous,” says Steve. “Pretty much everyone passes now and the trainers like it to the point where we’d probably struggle without it – it’s become a tool very central to what we do.”

Read the full case study here: http://www.excellencegateway.org.uk/kwikfit-eassessment

What impact can it have on learning?

But e-assessment doesn’t depend on gadgets, it can be built into the heart of a provider’s Virtual Learning Environment or stand alone on the web.

Questionmark Perception

Questionmark Perception (QMP) is an assessment management system that enables staff to write, schedule, deliver, and report on surveys, quizzes, tests and exams. As with all e-assessment technology, it has many advantages over traditional (paper-based) assessment, including:

  • lower long-term costs
  • instant feedback to learners
  • greater flexibility with respect to location and timing
  • improved marking reliability
  • greater storage efficiency – for instance, tens of thousands of answer scripts can be stored on a single server, saving significant physical space that would be required to store paper scripts
  • enhanced question styles that incorporate interactivity and multimedia.

The following illustration shows the type of feedback a learner might receive immediately after finishing a test.


And it is this instant feedback to the individual that makes technology-enhanced formative assessment so powerful. Whether it be diagnosing problems with a modern car engine, training a musician’s ear or practising times-tables, technology can turn assessment into a fun, learning process. The practical emphasis may well be on helping learners overcome their skills deficits, but the emotional emphasis is on healthy competition and ‘reaching the next level’.

Where in the learner’s journey are you likely to come across it?

Initial assessment

Teaching and learning

  • checking understanding
  • identifying emerging support issues
  • distance learning
  • as a learning aid
  • to develop logical thought processes
  • to develop team- and group-working skills (Read how Bromley College uses the Blockbusters game)
  • Teaching and learning with technology


  • formative assessment
  • feedback
  • summative assessment
  • work-based assessment

Reviewing learners’ progress

  • progress monitoring
  • attainment monitoring
  • target setting

At its best it will… (where appropriate – help for judging good or better)

At its best, e-assessment will be used to empower learners to develop their independent learning skills. Formative assessments, with their instant feedback, will enable learners to understand their attainment position and help them to resolve any knowledge or skills deficits. With learning and assessment integrated in engaging and often fun packages, learning can easily be extended beyond the classroom. Freed from the marking of endless scripts, the teacher can orchestrate the learning environment, facilitate the individual components where appropriate, and focus on the learners who need stretching or additional support.

At its worst it will… (where appropriate – help for judging satisfactory or worse)

At its worst, e-assessment may simply be a replacement for paper-based testing with little focus on learning. Assessment packages may lack relevance to the client group and fail to engage the learners. Learners may feel that technology is replacing teaching and that they have no desire to extend their learning beyond the classroom.

What are the safeguarding implications?

e-Assessment presents few safeguarding challenges. Depending on the strategies chosen, however, technology-based initial, formative and summative assessment work can all generate sensitive data. Security breaches of initial and formative assessment information may damage a learner’s confidence and relationship with the provider or his/her colleagues. Compromised summative assessment data may lead to the inappropriate passing or failing of qualifications.

Find out more

For which CIF evaluative statements could it generate evidence?

A1        How well do learners achieve and enjoy their learning?

A1a.1   learners attain their learning goals, including qualifications and challenging targets

A1a.2    there are any significant variations in the attainment of different groups of learners

A1a.3   learners’ work meets or exceeds the requirements of the qualifications, learning goals or employment

A1a.4    learners attend and participate as required.

A1b.2   learners enjoy learning and make progress relative to their prior attainment and potential

A2        How well do learners improve their   economic and social well-being   through             learning and   development?

A2.1     learners develop relevant knowledge, understanding and skills which contribute to their economic and social well-being

A2.2     learners increase their employability

B1        How effectively do teaching, training and assessment   support learning and             development?

B1.1     learning and assessment are linked to initial and current assessments and related activities are adapted to make sure they build on and extend learning for all learners

B1.2     interesting and appropriate teaching and learning methods and resources inspire and challenge all learners and enable them to extend their knowledge, skills and understanding

B1.3     technology is used effectively to promote and support learning, where appropriate

B1.4     staff have appropriate skills and expertise to provide good quality teaching, learning, assessment and information and support services for each learner

B1.5     assessment of learners’ performance and progress is timely, fair, consistent and reliable

B1.6     learners receive constructive feedback on their progress and how they might improve

B1.7     learners receive help to develop literacy, numeracy, language and key skills to support the attainment of their main learning goals

B1.8     learning, teaching, training and assessment promote equality and recognise diversity.

B2        How effectively does the provision meet the needs and interests of   users?

B2.1     the range, content and context of provision provides learners with a choice of subjects, levels and qualifications, that are relevant to their medium- and long-term personal, career and/or employment goals

B2.4     arrangements for training and assessment are flexible to suit learners’ and employers’ needs

B4        How effective are the care, guidance and support learners   receive in helping them             to   attain their learning goals?

B4.2     learners receive individual care and support to promote their learning and development, and to help them achieve their potential.

C1        How effectively do leaders and   managers raise expectations and   promote             ambition   throughout the organisation?

C1.1     leaders promote very high standards in a positive and supportive culture that aspires to excellence

C1.2     the provider raises expectations through a clear and realistic strategy for planning and developing learning programmes and services

C1.3     demanding targets are set and met throughout the organisation

C1.5     the provider uses data and information on learners’ and employers’ needs, and local and national skills needs to plan and review the provision or service

C1.6     resources, including staff, accommodation, facilities and technologies, are developed and used to support learning effectively.

C7        How efficiently and effectively does   the provider use its available resources to secure value for money?

C7.1     learners progress, develop skills and knowledge and attain their learning goals, taking account of their starting points

C7.3     resources are managed and used for the different activities to meet the needs of all learners



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