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Advice on online assessment

posted on 2002-01-01, 00:00 authored by Marcia Devlin
A good deal of investigation and development is underway in Australian universities into the possibilities for effective and efficient on-line and computer-based assessment. The current commercial ‘virtual learning environments’, which integrate various curriculum elements at subject level into a single software portal, usually offer various built-in options for student assessment. As well, many on-line assessment initiatives are being locally developed to suit specific curriculum needs.

There are many reasons why on-line assessment is being adopted by Australian universities. Many academics are seeking to diversify assessment tasks, broaden the range of skills assessed and provide students with more timely and informative feedback on their progress. Others are wishing to meet student expectations for more flexible delivery and to generate efficiencies in assessment that can ease academic staff workloads. All staff involved in such initiatives are discovering they face a large number of technical and educational decisions.

The move to on-line and computer based assessment is a natural outcome of the increasing use of information and communication technologies to enhance learning. As more students seek flexibility in their courses, it seems inevitable there will be growing expectations for flexible assessment as well.

At the same time, in a climate of increasing academic workloads, the adoption of on-line assessment may help to manage large volumes of marking and assessment-related administration efficiently. The automation of routine on-line tasks, in particular, may have the potential in the long-term to provide time/cost-efficient student assessment, though the present evidence suggests that some on-line assessment, at least in the early stages, can add significantly both to staff workload and to overall expenses.


Title of book

Assessing learning in Australian universities : ideas, strategies and resources for quality in student assessment


Centre for the Study of Higher Education

Place of publication

Melbourne, Vic.







Publication classification

BN.1 Other book chapter, or book chapter not attributed to Deakin

Copyright notice

2002, Australian Universities Teaching Committee.


R James, C McInnis, M Devlin

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