Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Education


Faculty of Education and Arts

First Supervisor

Associate Professor C.P. Newhouse


The assessment of student performance in areas such as drama, physical education, art and Information Technology (IT), does not lend itself to traditional, paper-based testing methods. In these domains, much emphasis is placed on the acquisition and demonstration of practical skills and these may be difficult, if not impossible, to measure by scores on theoretical, written assessments. Alternative forms of assessment, which are both valid and reliable, need to be devised for the practical aspects of these subject areas. The capture, in digital form, of students’ work, may allow the development of authentic forms of summative, high-stakes assessment with high reliability. This study investigated the digital capture of aspects of the practical performance of students in the senior secondary course of Applied Information technology (AIT), across seven high schools in Western Australia. Two forms of assessment were investigated; a reflective process digital portfolio and a computer based production examination. This study formed part of a larger project investigating the feasibility of using digital representations of students’ performances for authentic and reliable assessment in senior secondary school courses. This study only focussed on the AIT course, one of the four courses investigated, and only the first ‘proof of concept’ phase of the three developed by the main project. An ethnographic, action research methodology was employed, using qualitative and quantitative data collected and compiled into multiple case studies. The main sample comprised 115 students in eight classes across seven schools, resulting in seven case studies. These students completed a digital portfolio over a four-week period and a computer based practical/production examination over three hours. The examination also included a response questions section. Portfolios were scored by summation of partial marks according to a marking rubric; examinations were scored similarly and, in addition, for a subset of students, by a method of multiple comparisons of pairs. For each method of marking Rasch modelling analysis was conducted to investigate the reliability of scoring.