Using technology to support the assessment lifecycle, from the electronic submission of assignments to marking and feedback.
Below is an excerpt from the Jisc ‘Electronic management of assessment’ web page. It provides a useful outline to the benefits of online assessment from both the student and staff perspectives.
What is EMA?
The term electronic management of assessment (EMA) is increasingly being used to describe the way in which technology is used across the assessment lifecycle to support the electronic submission of assignments, as well as marking and feedback.
Assessment and feedback involves the management of a complex set of business processes, especially in higher education . Many universities and colleges are seeing benefits and cost savings from using technology to support and to streamline these processes. This high level model shows the types of activity that can be supported through technology.
At a more detailed level the processes also include: assessment scheduling; submission of assignments; tracking of submissions; extension requests and approvals; academic integrity; academic misconduct processes; examinations; marks recording; moderation and external examining.
How does EMA benefit students?
The range of benefits to students depends on how many of the associated processes are carried out electronically.
Typically many universities and colleges begin by replacing paper-based assignment submission with an online system and both off-the-shelf and bespoke systems are used.
Reported benefits of online submission for students include:
- Convenience of not having to travel to hand in assignments
- Avoidance of printing costs
- Time savings and avoidance of anxiety about assignments going missing in the postal system
- Automatic proof of receipt
- Improved confidence provided by the privacy, safety and security of e-submission
- Confidence of knowing work is backed up
- Electronic reminders about deadlines and improved clarity about turnaround times for marking
- Realistic timing of submission deadlines (eg a 23:59 deadline at the University of Huddersfield)
- Meeting expectations – that this is normal practice in a digital age
Benefits for students increase when the end to end process is managed electronically so that marks and feedback are also delivered online. The additional benefits include:
- Improved clarity and understanding of feedback (not least as a result of not having to decipher handwriting)
- Improved timeliness (especially when some aspects of feedback are automated) enabling advice given on a previous assignment to be assimilated and applied in the next
- Increased privacy when marked work is returned electronically
- Many students report that feedback in electronic form is easier to use and therefore more likely they will revisit it at a later date.
Research shows an overall student preference for EMA and reveals that few need training to support its introduction. It must however be remembered that there will be access and accessibility issues for a minority of learners who will require additional support.
How does EMA benefit academic staff?
EMA delivers both pedagogic benefits and administrative efficiencies.
The greatest benefits for academic staff are delivered when both marking and feedback are carried out electronically.
Reported benefits of online feedback and marking for academic staff include:
- Greater transparency which has been shown to improve the standard and consistency of marking and feedback comments
- Improved clarity of marking and feedback (especially the ability to include lengthy comments at the appropriate point in the text)
- Reduced workload making it feasible to assess learners’ understanding more frequently
- Reduced administrative burden leaving more time to focus on individuals experiencing difficulties.
- New opportunities to improve student understanding, for example, by extracting and analysing data held in an online marking system to achieve a more timely response to errors and weaknesses
- Increased satisfaction when improved feedback has a positive impact on student attainment
- The convenience of not having to collect and carry large quantities of paper
- The convenience of electronic filing
- The security of having work backed up on an online system
- The ability to moderate marks without having to physically exchange paper
- The increased speed and efficiency of being able to reuse common comments
- Improved morale through not having to write out repeated comments
- The convenience of being able to undertake originality and plagiarism checking in the same environment as marking
- Reduced data input and batch upload of marks
Read the full report
You can read the full report and a range of cases studies here: https://www.jisc.ac.uk/guides/electronic-assessment-management