Assessing Assessment

As noted in Innovating e-Learning 2011 : JISC and Poacher turned gamekeeper I am attending the Innovating E-Learning Online Conference during the gaps in my full calendar. Today there was a quite large gap between the morning session (on Work-based Learning) and the final plenary session on Theme 1: Learning Landscapes and I was able to fill in a locally arrange Swansea Academy of Learning and Teaching (SALT) seminar lunchtime seminar on Multiple Choice: The smart choice or dumbing down?

During this session we learned about a local HEA funded project that is looking at the value of single selection versus elimination-style multiple choice questions in the life sciences and this was followed by an excellent presentation from Steve Draper of Glasgow University called Improving deep learning with Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs) and Electronic Voting Systems (EVS).

Following on, as it did quite by chance, from an excellent Activity-Week introduction to PeerWise (mentioned in Steve’s talk) and conference sessions on Assessment and Feedback and Students as Agents of Change (at which EVS came highly recommended by students in the Business School at Exeter), I feel justified in struggling with computer-based assessment and eager to try some of the new-to-me techniques mentioned by Steve and my colleagues from life sciences here at Swansea.

Having been excused from a staff-student committee by my Head of Teaching in order to attend this session, I hope that I will also be able to pass back the message that MCQs and EVSs are legitimate and powerful learning tools when used correctly.