e-Assessment Handbook – Geoffrey Crisp – Where have you been all my life

Only recently I ran into the e-Assessment Handbook by Geoffrey Crisp of Continuum Books and the TransformingAssessment website which is an Australian Learning and Teaching Council Fellowship resource. I wished I did find this book and website sooner!

It is the first book on e-Assessment that I know of that really goes a step further in exploring the possible broadness and deepness of e-Assessment as I have been expressing myself in various presentation in the Netherlands. Also, the focus is more on assessment in higher education than the general educational measurement handbook.  e-Assessment is treated by Crisp as more than just the concept of developing item banks with multiple-choice questions in it, which are administered on screen to test-takers on the basis of CTT or IRT/CAT principles, and used for summative purposes. No, e-Assessment tries to capture both Assessment of Learning, Assessment as  Learning and Assessment for Learning. It particularly tries to capture the role and appearance of various modern technologies (and in particular Web2.0) to support those types of Assessment. In the book and website many examples have been compiled of actual interactive questions and in particular simulations. Unfortunately, Crisp missed the contribution that Rob Hartog and I made regarding question design and examples of design patterns ;-). A part of the book is thematically structured around specific domains which can be very helpful for teachers in higher education (they always want to work with examples that are close to their own subject matter). Some attention is given to automatic essaygrading software also.

As for the transformative assessment ideas, the book discusses topics such as Assessing discussion groups and collaborative tasks, Interactive assessment and Java applets and Assessing role playing and games. I think that is a good thing to include such learning activities under the term assessment.

I’m also missing stuff of course.

For the part of assessing groupwork I missed examples of the SPARK system of the University of Technology of Sydney and the WebPA system of JISC/Loughborough University UK. For peer-assessment and peer-review, a discussion of Turnitin and other anti-plagiarism software should be considered but also for example the Annotatiesysteem. Maybe also tools to support video-reflection such as the DiviDU project. With regards to role-playing and games I would consider a discussion of the ExperienceChange game and a more thorough discussion (or examples of) actual reliability issues and grading possibilities for gaming and role-play.

In relation to the specific domain examples for selected response questions or other innovative uses of questions, I would discuss more specific question types in detail and set-ups. For example the Long Menu Questions, Computer Based Medical Problem Solving Assessment. More recent, general selected response design possibilities could stem from the iCMA initiative or be based on the work by Scalise and Gifford. Or initiatives like SpacedEd (now Qstream) in which student receive question via email on a regular basis. Or PeerWise in which students develop questions themselves. Or OpenStudy in which students work as a community to answer course related questions.

Then another problem is the actual design of the book. I do not like the lay-out of the publication, nor the type-setting, nor the cover. I think a book like this deserves a better appearance to emphasize its character of a modern approach to learning and assessment.. But maybe the turn-around for such books does not allow for such high quality ‘expensive’ publications. And also the fact that nor Amazon, nor Google books nor the publisher provide some sort of insight in actual pages of the book is a pity.

However, the book tries to discuss e-Assessment conveniently in an order that tries to mimic what the general teacher would possibly have as questions before engaging in something like e-Assessment. See his section overview below. I think that is a strong point for recommending this book to teachers.

  • Section 1 How does assessment affect learning?
  • Section 2 How will I make e-assessment?
  • Section 3 What does e-assessment look like?
  • Section 4. What are the practical issues when doing e-assessment
  • Section 5 How Do I Make e-Assessment Interactive
  • Section 6 What about the future?

In short. I really like this book and the overview it provides. It is a valuable source that instructional designers, educational technologists and teachers can use to broaden their scope regarding e-Assessment and by providing hands-on examples. I hope Crisp will consider my suggestions for additions and upgrading.

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