Automated formative feedback and summative assessment using individualised spreadsheet assignments

Paul Blayney, Mark Freeman

Abstract


This paper reports on the effects of automating formative feedback at the student's discretion and automating summative assessment with individualised spreadsheet assignments. Quality learning outcomes are achieved when students adopt deep approaches to learning (Ramsden, 2003). Learning environments designed to align assessment to learning objectives and learning activities encourage these approaches (Biggs 1999). A crucial part of any learning or assessment activity is the degree to which students receive timely and effective feedback. As academics have experienced more pressure, frequently feedback has been limited to a single score, achieved most commonly by auto-corrected multiple choice questions in ICT supported environments. Spreadsheet assignments are a good way to learn and demonstrate understanding of concepts requiring calculation and interaction of different elements. However, they can be an assessment nightmare either because of validity problems (the potential for cheating using the cell copy function) or because of marking time (if students are allowed individual choice in application topic). This paper responds to Higgins, Hartley and Skelton's (2002) observation on the lack of research on feedback and builds on work by Lehman and Herring (2003) in using interactive spreadsheets to provide immediate feedback by describing effects on students. Effects on academics and their productivity are considered, including Rogers' (1995) diffusion of innovation factors. Academics and academic managers seeking ways to improve learning by improving feedback, without an increasing workload, will find this research of interest.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.14742/ajet.1360

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