Digital forms of assessment in schools: Supporting the processes to improve outcomes

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Title

Learning, Design, and Technology




Spector, J.M., Lockee, B.B., & Childress, M.D.


School of Education / Centre for Schooling and Learning Technologies




Newhouse, C. P. (2016). Digital Forms of Assessment in Schools: Supporting the Processes to Improve Outcomes. In M. J. Spector, B. B. Lockee & M. D. Childress (Eds.), Learning, Design, and Technology (pp. 1-29). Springer, Cham.

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This chapter discusses the critical roles digital technologies can play in improving assessment outcomes, and thus teaching in schools. It argues that because teaching in schools is driven by summative assessment, to meet twenty-first-century learning demands, this needs to be refocused toward measuring deep conceptual understanding and authentic performance. To achieve this, digital technologies can be used to support the full range of processes from formulating and implementing the assessment tasks through to judging performance, providing feedback, and ensuring consistency of outcomes. Appropriate approaches to these processes can be supported, including capturing performance in digital form, making holistic relative judgments based on a range of evidence, and embedding assessment in learning. Further, digital technologies can be used to create and collate portfolios of evidence, including from e-exams, for the purpose of learning analytics. Components of these alternative approaches to summative assessment are illustrated from over 8 years of research conducted in Western Australia by the Centre for Schooling and Learning Technologies (CSaLT) at Edith Cowan University. There was a focus on high-stakes senior secondary assessment in courses that included substantial outcomes involving some form of practical performance, such as was found in Engineering Studies, Physical Education Studies, Applied Information Technology, Italian Studies, Visual Arts, and Design. This research has shown how digital technologies may be used to support a range of forms of assessment, including types of “exams” and e-portfolios, to measure understanding and performance using analytic and holistic relative judgments to provide both quantitative and qualitative feedback to students and teachers.



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