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Journal Article

Students' Perceived Usefulness of Formative Feedback for a Computer‑adaptive Test  pp31-38

Mariana Lilley, Trevor Barker

© Mar 2007 Volume 5 Issue 1, ECEL 2006, Editor: Shirley Williams, pp1 - 86

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Abstract

In this paper we report on research related to the provision of automated feedback based on a computer adaptive test (CAT), used in formative assessment. A cohort of 76 second year university undergraduates took part in a formative assessment with a CAT and were provided with automated feedback on their performance. A sample of students responded in a short questionnaire to assess their attitude to the quality of the feedback provided. In this paper, we describe the CAT and the system of automated feedback used in our research, and we also present the findings of the attitude survey. On average students reported that they had a good attitude to our automated feedback system. Statistical analysis was used to show that attitude to feedback was not related to performance on the assessment (p>0.05). We discuss this finding in the light of the requirement to provide fast, efficient and useful feedback at the appropriate level for students.

 

Keywords: computer-assisted assessment, formative assessment, adaptive testing

 

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Journal Article

IT Worked for Us: Online Strategies to Facilitate Learning in Large (Undergraduate) Classes  pp179-188

F. Greyling, M. Kara, A. Makka, S. van Niekerk

© Nov 2008 Volume 6 Issue 3, Editor: Shirley Williams, Laura Czerniewicz, pp161 - 254

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Abstract

Higher education institutions are compelled to accommodate growing class sizes as student numbers have increased over time, especially at undergraduate level. Good teaching principles are relevant to all class sizes. For example, teachers of all classes are required to create safe learning environments, motivate and engage students, interact with students, provide stimulating assessment tasks and give prompt feedback. However, meeting these requirements in the context of large classes is more challenging. As a result, traditional large class teaching methods are often characterised by the passive absorption of material, which is not ideal. What constitutes a large class? Class sizes of 60 or more have been considered large. In this paper, we report on online teaching, learning and assessment strategies for classes made up of approximately 600 first year students in Business Management 1 offered at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa. The purpose of this ongoing research project is to integrate educational technologies in the classroom and study the impact of these classroom changes on the students' learning experience. The programme, which blends face‑to‑face teaching, paper‑based teaching materials and online learning by means of WebCTBlackboard tools, is now in its second cycle of implementation. This teaching strategy aims at greater lecturer‑student interaction, engaging students with the course materials on a regular basis and eliciting feedback from students, which is used to re‑teach concepts that the students find particularly difficult. The blended learning strategy resulted in enhanced student perceptions of the quality of teaching and learning, and a significant improvement in student throughput. The findings and recommendations reported in the paper are based on student feedback, gleaned through online surveys, online artefacts created by students and lecturers' classroom experiences. Although the authors report on online teaching, learning and assessment practices that proved to be effective in large classes, many conclusions may be of relevance to smaller classes.

 

Keywords: large classes, e-Learning, assessment, evaluation, social presence, action research

 

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Journal Article

Technology‑Assisted Reading for Improving Reading Skills for young South African Learners  pp245-254

Gerda van Wyk, Arno Louw

© Nov 2008 Volume 6 Issue 3, Editor: Shirley Williams, Laura Czerniewicz, pp161 - 254

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Abstract

This paper addresses the controversial issues of improving the reading skills of young learners through technology‑assisted reading programmes. On reporting the results of primary school learners from grade 2 to grade 7 who participated in a computer‑based reading programme for seven months, we try to answer the critical questions of whether computer‑assisted reading programmes should be embraced or avoided. We also have looked at the possible benefits of such an intervention apart from the improvement of reading skills. The poorly developed reading skills of South African learners slowly became evident over the last couple of years as teachers, parents, employers and professionals were confronted with this ongoing crisis. The Department of Education (DoE) stated that the South African youth do not read as well as their foreign counterparts and actions were put in place to address the growing problem. However, despite this acknowledgement, decision makers are still indecisive in effectively addressing the problem. Many theories exist on why children are reading impaired and who should accept responsibility for it. Data of the findings in this paper was collected over a period of seven months and reflects the reading results of learners who followed a combination of a computer‑based reading programme, visual accuracy and visual memory computer exercises as well as the application of specific paper‑based activities. Groups were small, with continuous personal intervention and communication from the facilitator with each learner. This paper also qualitatively reflects on the additional benefits or negative experiences of learners who participated in the electronic reading programme. The qualitative data was accumulated from interviews with learners and teachers involved. The efficacy of the reading programme was evaluated through continuous assessment of learners' performance on different aspects of reading, including reading speed, reading comprehension, spelling and language. The reading results obtained were compared with the initial reading assessment before implementing the programme. The overall experience of learners who participated in this programme provided valuable information in evaluating the reading programme as a whole. Results obtained from this study indicate that improvement in reading speed, comprehension and spelling was unique to every learner individually. The benefits beyond the improvement of reading skills obtained as a result of the programme encompass many areas of the learners' development, such as social learning, collaborative learning, finer perceptual motor skills, confidence and a general improvement in marks in other subjects. This paper attempts to provide insights into the value and challenges of computer‑assisted reading for primary school learners and into the importance of adapting teaching methods in response to a crisis.

 

Keywords: computer-assisted reading programmes, improvement of reading skills, evaluation, assessment, primary school learners, reading comprehension, mastering of reading skills

 

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Journal Article

e‑Learning Success Model: an Information Systems Perspective  pp62-71

Anita Lee-Post

© May 2009 Volume 7 Issue 1, Editor: Shirley Williams, pp1 - 85

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Abstract

This paper reports the observations made and experience gained from developing and delivering an online quantitative methods course for Business undergraduates. Inspired by issues and challenges experienced in developing the online course, a model is advanced to address the question of how to guide the design, development, and delivery of successful e‑learning initiatives based on theories of a user‑centered information systems development paradigm. The benefits of using the proposed model for e‑learning success assessment is demonstrated through four cycles of action research after two action research cycles of pilot study. Findings from our empirical study confirm the value of an action research methodology for promoting e‑learning success. The paper concludes with a discussion on the merits of the proposed model in furthering our understanding of how to define, assess, and promote e‑learning success.

 

Keywords: e-learning success, e-learning assessment, action research, information systems success model

 

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Journal Article

Emerging Patterns in Transferring Assessment Practices from F2f to Online Environments  pp1-12

Ronald Beebe, Selma Vonderwell, Marius Boboc

© Jan 2010 Volume 8 Issue 1, Editor: Shirley Williams, pp1 - 50

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Abstract

This study explores the transfer of assessment practices from f2f to online environments by college instructors, with a particular interest in the factors influencing assessment in online learning settings. Assessment is a critical aspect of the learning environment, and considerable research has suggested various methods of formative and summative assessment for the f2f classroom. However, there has been less research into the ways in which these traditional forms of assessment are being incorporated into the online learning environment, or whether they may even be appropriate. This study investigated the perceptions of seven higher education faculty, with experience teaching courses in both the f2f and online environments, regarding the transfer of assessment practices between the two delivery formats. Specifically, this study explored the transfer of assessment practices from f2f to online environments by college instructors in two higher education institutions: a four‑year college and a two‑year community college. The authors propose that an understanding of both assessment for learning and of learning is needed to support effective faculty practices and enhanced student learning in online courses. Consequently, it is important to study the impact of assessment strategies and techniques faculty employ to better understand various instructional practices that effectively centre on enhanced student learning. A phenomenological approach was employed for the analysis of data involving seven online course instructors at two higher education institutions, a four‑year college and a two‑year community college. Findings indicate several factors that influence the transfer of assessment practices from f2f to online environments. Data analysis points to several areas of interest related to the design of online assessment: time management, complexity of content, structure of online medium, student responsibility and initiative, and informal assessment. Authors suggest the incorporation of tradition classroom assessment techniques in the online learning environment should be considered in light of the factors described above. In particular, assessments for continuous and improved learning are important for the development of an engaged community of learners in the online environment. As technologies continue to evolve, a pedagogical framework that considers the learning environment differences between traditional and face to face classes becomes increasing imperative, both in terms of understanding the delivery and mediation of instruction. Such a framework will need to address both aspects of process and product in assessment. Consequently, future research needs to examine what strategies of techniques are effective in the assessment for learning in online instruction.

 

Keywords: Online learning, online assessment, assessment for learning, assessment of learning, transfer of assessment practices, online faculty

 

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Journal Article

Collaborative e‑Learning: e‑Portfolios for Assessment, Teaching and Learning  pp21-30

Dharmadeo Luchoomun, Joe McLuckie, Maarten van Wesel

© Jan 2010 Volume 8 Issue 1, Editor: Shirley Williams, pp1 - 50

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Abstract

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Keywords: e-Portfolio, Virtual Learning Environment, VLE, online assessment, blended learning, collaborative learning, learning objects

 

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Journal Article

Enhanced Approach of Automatic Creation of Test Items to foster Modern Learning Setting  pp23-38

Christian Gutl, Klaus Lankmayr, Joachim Weinhofer, Margit Hofler

© Apr 2011 Volume 9 Issue 1, ECEL 2010 special issue, Editor: Carlos Vaz de Carvalho, pp1 - 114

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Abstract

Research in automated creation of test items for assessment purposes became increasingly important during the recent years. Due to automatic question creation it is possible to support personalized and self‑directed learning activities by preparing appropriate and individualized test items quite easily with relatively little effort or even fully automatically. In this paper, which is an extended version of the conference paper of Gütl, Lankmayr and Weinhofer (2010), we present our most recent work on the automated creation of different types of test items. More precisely, we describe the design and the development of the Enhanced Automatic Question Creator (EAQC) which extracts most important concepts out of textual learning content and creates single choice, multiple‑choice, completion exercises and open ended questions on the basis of these concepts. Our approach combines statistical, structural and semantic methods of natural language processing as well as a rule‑based AI solution for concept extraction and test item creation. The prototype is designed in a flexible way to support easy changes or improvements of the above mentioned methods. EAQC is designed to deal with multilingual learning material and in its recent version English and German content is supported. Furthermore, we discuss the usage of the EAGC from the users’ viewpoint and also present first results of an evaluation study in which students were asked to evaluate the relevance of the extracted concepts and the quality of the created test items. Results of this study showed that the concepts extracted and questions created by the EAQC were indeed relevant with respect to the learning content. Also the level of the questions and the provided answers were appropriate. Regarding the terminology of the questions and the selection of the distractors, which had been criticized most during the evaluation study, we discuss some aspects that could be considered in the future in order to enhance the automatic generation of questions. Nevertheless the results are promising and suggest that the quality of the automatically extracted concepts and created test items is comparable to human generated ones.

 

Keywords: e-assessment, automated test item creation, distance learning, self-directed learning, natural language processing, computer-based assessment

 

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Journal Article

Assessing Student Transitions in an Online Learning Environment  pp75-86

Minoru Nakayama, Hiroh Yamamoto

© Apr 2011 Volume 9 Issue 1, ECEL 2010 special issue, Editor: Carlos Vaz de Carvalho, pp1 - 114

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Abstract

Assessment surveys of students are often conducted in order to evaluate online learning activities. Most surveys measure responses to questions which are based on students’ subjective impressions. The purpose of this study is to examine participants’ assessments made during the transitional phase in an online learning environment which includes blended and fully online courses at a Japanese national university. Students were enrolled in two‑unit Master’s or Bachelor’s degree courses which were taught by the same professor. The total number of students with valid survey data was 184 (92 Masters, 67 Bachelors for the blended learning course and 25 Bachelors for the fully online course). A survey questionnaire consisting of 10 questions measured the self‑assessments of students’ online learning experiences. Three factors were extracted. There are no significant differences in all factor scores between the beginnings and the ends of the courses. These results show the coherence of students' assessments during the course. The correlation coefficients of the first factor scores (e‑learning evaluation) between the beginnings and the ends of the courses are not high, however (Masters: r=0.35, Bachelors for blended learning: r=0.46, and Bachelors for fully online: r=0.33). Therefore, some participants have changed their evaluations between the two surveys. When the differences in factor scores from the initial and final surveys are compared between students who rated the course highly at the beginning (high raters) and students who did not (low raters), the scores for the high raters decrease and the scores for the low raters increase. Also, the relationships between students’ transitions and the metrics of their behaviour were investigated.

 

Keywords: online learning, student assessment, assessment in transition, blended learning, fully online learning

 

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