My poorly formatted notes of Best Practices in e-Assessment by Nicole A. Buzzetto-More and Ayodele Julius Alade, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Princess Anne, MD, USA. Read the complete article online.

o assessment is an ongoing process that involves plan-
ning, discussion, consensus building, reflection, measuring, analyzing, and improving based on
the data and artifacts gathered about a learning objective.
o Assessment encompasses a range of
activities including testing, performances, project ratings, and observations (Orlich, Harder, Callahan & Gibson, 2004)
o The use of information technologies and e-learning strategies can provide an efficient and effective means of assessing teaching and learning effectiveness by supporting traditional, authentic, and alternative assessment protocols (Bennett, 2002)
o technology offers new measures for assessing learning that will yield rich sources of data
and expand the ways in which educators understand both learning mastery, and teaching effec-
The use of information technologies and e-learning to augment the assessment process
may include: pre and post testing, diagnostic analysis, student tracking, rubric use, the support
and delivery of authentic assessment through project based learning, artifact collection, and data
aggregation and analysis
assessment is an integral piece to assuring that an educational insti-
tution achieves its learning goals, as well as a crucial means of providing the essential evidence
necessary for seeking and maintaining accreditation. Hersh (2004) advocated the position that
assessment of student learning should be considered an integral part of the teaching and learning
processes as well as part of the feedback loop that serves to enhance institutional effectiveness
Good assessment serves multiple objectives (Swearington, n.d.) and benefits a number of stake-
holders (Love & Cooper, 2004). According to Dietal, Herman, and Knuth (1991) assessment pro-
vides an accurate measure of student performance to enable teachers, administrators, and other
key decision makers to make effective decisions.
Kellough and Kellough (1999) iden-
tified seven purposes of assessment:
1. Improve student learning;
2. Identify students’ strengths and weaknesses;
3. Review, assess, and improve the effectiveness of different teaching strategies;
4. Review, assess, and improve the effectiveness of curricular programs;
5. Improve teaching effectiveness;
6. Provide useful administrative data that will expedite decision making; and
7. To communicate with stakeholders
Petkov and Petkova (2006) recommend course-embedded assessment as having the advantage of
ease of implementation, low cost, timeliness, and student acceptance and note that the type of
performance appraisal supported by rubrics is particularly effective when assessing problem solv-
ing, communication and team working skills. They explain that rubrics should not be considered
checklists but rather criteria and rating scales for evaluation of a product or performance. Accord-
ing to Aurbach (n.d.), rubrics articulate the standards by which a product, performance, or out-
come demonstration will be evaluated. They help to standardize assessment, provide useful data,
and articulate goals and objectives to learners. Rubrics are also particularly useful in assessing
complex and subjective skills (Dodge & Pickette, 2001)
rubrics in introductory IS courses found that the
use of rubrics helped to make assessment more uniform, better communicate expectations and
performance to students, measure student progress over time, and help to lay the foundation for a
long-terms assessment program that combines projects and portfolios
Measuring students’ knowledge, strengths, and weaknesses prior to instruction is done through
diagnostic testing (Swearington, n.d.). Diagnostic assessment allows educators to remedy defi-
ciencies as well as make curricular adjustments
Portfolios can be used to assess learning-outcome achievement as well as to diagnose curriculum
deficiencies that require improvement
a portfolio should re-
quire students to collect, assemble, and reflect on samples that represent the culmination of their
learning. Cooper (1999) identified six considerations of the portfolio building process: identifica-
tion of skill areas, design of measurable outcomes, identification of learning strategies, identifica-
tion of performance indicators, collection of evidence, and assessment
Wiggins (1990) suggests that work being assessed should be authentic or based on the real world.
Pellegrino, Chudonsky, and Glaser (2001) suggest that formative assessments focus less on
student responses and more on performance. As a result, many institutions are anchoring their
assessment activities into meaningful scenarios so that students are being assessed on their
abilities to apply learning into realistic situations
Value-added assessment demonstrates the progress of student learning throughout a program
(Martell & Calderon, 2005). It requires academics to ask “What do our students know, and how
can we demonstrate that knowledge has been gained?” Value-added assessment commonly in-
volves pre- and post-testing as well as student tracking.
the literature suggests that good as-
sessment programs have variety (Swearington, n.d.). Merrimack College, for example, uses diag-
nostic testing, student portfolios, alumni surveys, course evaluations, rubrics, and employer sur-
veys as part of their assessment model (Popper, 2005)
Curricular alignment occurs when a program organizes their teaching and learning activities to
reflect desired student outcomes (Martell & Calderon, 2005). According to Baratz-Snowden
(1993), curriculum alignment holds a school accountable for demonstrating when and where stu-
dents have the opportunity to learn information and acquire skills. Engaging in curriculum align-
ment encourages programs to link outcomes to instruction as well as reflect upon the sequence in
which competencies are built.
curriculum alignment is particularly
important to K-12 schools faced with high-stakes standardized tests. His study, conducted in the
Massachusetts high school where he serves as principal, showed tangible improvement in stan-
dardized test scores as a result of curriculum alignment
effective data management is
crucial to the assessment loop (Dhir,
2005), where the data collected
needs to be made available to fac-
ulty and administrators in a timely
manner so that fact-based decisions
can be made.
technology is central to learning and, as a result, is going to prove
to be central to the assessment process. Bennett explains that technology will not only facilitate
testing but also support authentic assessment. He refers to e-learning as part of the equipment of
21st Century scholarship and cites the success of online universities and virtual high schools in the
United States
Numerous studies have linked e-learning to critical thinking; for example, a study of 300 recent
MBA graduates conducted at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater found that online learning
encourages high level reflective thinking (Drago, 2004)
e-assessment should en-
courage the rethinking of curriculum, e-learning, and technology and explain that e-assessment is
flexible and supports the assessment of higher order thinking, social skills, and group work
through such means as digital portfolios
Vendlinski and Stevens (2002) illustrate that technology provides new means to assess learning
that will yield rich sources of data. E-assessment may include pre and post testing, diagnostic
analysis, student tracking, rubric use/analysis, the support and delivery of authentic assessment
through project based learning (e.g. WebQuests, simulations, eportfolios), artifact collection, and
data aggregation and analysis.
Rubrics can be translated to a digital format where they may be made available through an intra-
net or over the internet. Used for scoring, these scores provide meaningful assessment informa-
tion. When connected to a database, they provide educators with data that can be aggregated
(Buzzetto-More, 2006). There are a number of websites that assist teachers in the development of
rubrics. Two useful rubric builders can be found at and
Frequently known as project based learning, it is a form of in-
struction where students are immersed in challenging learning situations that are anchored in real
world simulations (Page, 2006). According to Page, project based learning can support critical
thinking, multilayered decision making, goal setting, problem solving, and collaboration. As a
result, many institutions are anchoring their assessment activities into meaningful scenarios so
that students are being assessed on their abilities to apply learning into realistic situations
Computer simulations are a form of project based learning that require learners to discover and
apply learned skills interactive changing environments that mimic real-world situations (Berge
educators are increasingly finding the value of using rubrics to fully evaluate simulation
participation because the score or end result is not always indicative of the students thought proc-
essing and participation
online discourse fosters critical
thinking and reflection, and Wu and Hiltz (2004) explained that asynchronous communications
improved students’ perception of learning. A study conducted in the United Arab Emirates indi-
cated that students who are reluctant to participate in classroom discussions are more vocal in
electronic discussions and that discussions increase understanding of course content (Bhatti,
Tubaisahat, & El-Quawasmeh, 2005). Successful online discussions can allow students to demon-
strate not just content mastery but the ability to incorporate content into higher level thinking; as a
result, transcripts from electronic discussions have shown themselves to be valuable assessment
artifacts (Buzzetto-More, 2006)
Portfolios are an effective form of alternative assessment that encourages students and
educators to examine skills that may not be otherwise accessed using traditional means such as
higher order thinking, communications, and collaborative abilities (Buzzetto-More, 2006; Wright,
2004). According to the ePortConsortium (2003) the benefits of electronic portfolios in education
are that they help students develop organizational skills; recognize skills, abilities, and shortcom-
ings; showcase talents; assess academic progress; demonstrate how skills have developed over
time; make career decisions; demonstrate that one has met program or certification requirements;
and promote themselves professionally
A portfolio should require students to collect, assemble, and reflect on samples that represent the
culmination of their learning (Chun, 2002) providing students with a diversity of opportunities to
skills and abilities (Martell & Calderon, 2005)
Online portfolios
are dynamic and multimedia
driven; accessible by a large audience; contain meta-documentation; easy to store; and may serve
to promote a student academically or professionally
the skills
required in the creation of electronic portfolios helps students learn, understand, and implement
the information literacy process.
Information literacy is the ability to collect, evaluate, assemble, reflect upon, and use information
in order to learn and inform problem-solving and decision making (Bruce, 2003). It is a skill cru-
cial to lifelong learning that is dependent on the ability to engage in critical and reflective think
Electronic portfolios are quickly becoming the primary means in academia for
students to demonstrate and reflect on learning in a way that helps students build and apply in-
formation literacy skills (Lorenzo & Ittelson, 2005a
Other technologies that are gaining in popularity in e-assessment include pen top computing
(which allows teachers to review, comment, add to, and access handwritten student notes and
work), integrated student response keypads (which allow for real time whole class questioning
and data collection and analysis), pod casting (recording and distributing small audio and video
files to students via their handheld devices), and digital video/audio lecture capturing synched
with tablet pc presentations and activities (providing an archived record of teaching effectiveness
for assessment demonstration).
assessment systems must take into ac-
count issues of interface, accessibility, security, usability, the information to be collected, hard-
ware and software technology, and information storage and processing
electronic portfolios created by students include: lesson plans, WebQuests, student teaching vid-
eos, images, reflective journal entries, papers, transcripts, evaluations completed by cooperating
teachers, observations made by their program advisor, student projects, rubrics, study aides,
PowerPoint Presentations, websites, curriculum maps, goals and objectives, seating charts, behav-
ior expectation sheets, assessment materials, progress reports, and a variety of other artifacts that
demonstrate a students mastery of the principles established by the Interstate New Teacher As-
sessment and Support Consortium which have been adopted by the University. Portfolios are pre-
sented by the students and assessed using a simple rubric by a team of assessors. The portfolio is
accessible to students for a period of seven years following their graduation from the program and
has shown itself to be a useful resource for students applying for employment as it allows them to
communicate a variety of skills and abilities in a dynamic format
The goal is to have a detailed data-management system in place that will
enable faculty across the department, university administrators, and accrediting agencies to re-
view data and artifacts on a continuous basis. The use of a multi-queriable assessment database
allows the department to run an extensive variety of correlations relevant to the overall quality of
teaching and learning, as well as to automate administrative functions. The data-management sys-
tem under consideration will include: placement-test results, grades, advisement information, par-
ticipation in university activities, diagnostic scores, rubric ratings, videos, attendance information,
use of remediation services, samples of student work, and other useful artifacts. For security rea-
sons, varying levels of accessibility will be determined based on the needs of the users, and in
many instances student identifiers will be removed

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