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eAssessment and Covid-19

The Covid-19 pandemic impacted on many aspects of daily life including education where teachers and trainers faced an unprecedented challenge in implementing  online courses and in assessing students’ progress. Since the outbreak of the pandemic in 2019, several studies have been conducted looking at e-Assessment and its benefits and problems.

Generally speaking, educators had to deal with the integration of digital information and communication technologies. Research suggests that educational institutions were not fully prepared for a turn to digital learning and the integration of eAssessment processes. However, due to the demanding circumstances, the institutions had no other option than to move to online digital education.

Educators expressed their concerns about implementing eAssessment, including issues such as the potential of cheating during exams, the pedagogical alignment, and the future consequences for students. Other issues raised include the quality and validity of the assessment. The shift from the traditional to the digital form of assessment drove educators to look more critically at their assessment practices and to search for ways to increase the validity of the exercise.

In the early stages of teaching online, during the first months of 2020, studies suggest that some higher institutions were not fully prepared to assess their students digitally, leading to complaints about delayed results on assignments, and assessments in general. Many institutions were not prepared for the rapid move to online teaching provision and neither were staff sufficiently trained. Institutions that had a main focus on summative assessment struggled to link online assessment to  course outcomes.

However, teachers managed to find a way for the assessment to work online. Two main trends were noticed. The first was that “most of the teachers transferred their models of assessment from face-to-face directly to an online environment” and the second that they tend to use digital tools that they know  better and adapt them based on their needs and the curriculum.

An ongoing fear is that some students might not perform well in online assessments due to their low digital skills, especially if there is a lack of IT support. Other issues include the need for reliable internet connections and the quality of the equipment available.

On the positive side, research suggests eAssessment is  more reliable and practical than traditional forms of assessment. The main advantages of using eAssessment are: providing direct and immediate feedback for students, improving student performance, reducing the time and effort of the teacher, decreasing the cost for the institution, and encouraging high-order thinking.

Students prefer e-assessment because they can have more control, friendly interfaces and tests as games and simulations, which resemble learning environments and recreational activities. It is, also, fast, and easy to use. E-assessment provides immediate feedback compared with paper tests, which helps to improve the learning level and student performance and increases students’ motivation to enhance their performance. Furthermore, it helps the students in remote areas to learn and bee assess in their own locations and it can take place at any time, providing increased flexibility for students.

But “using technology is not without technical limitations.” For teachers preparing a remote test and assessment can be more complex and time consuming  than traditional assessments. 

1  St‐Onge, C., Ouellet, K., Lakhal, S., Dubé, T., & Marceau, M. (2021). COVID‐19 as the tipping point for integrating e‐assessment in higher education practices. British Journal of Educational Technology, 53(2), 349–366. https://doi.org/10.1111/bjet.13169

 2 St‐Onge, C., Ouellet, K., Lakhal, S., Dubé, T., & Marceau, M. (2021). COVID‐19 as the tipping point for integrating e‐assessment in higher education practices. British Journal of Educational Technology, 53(2), 349–366.

3 Abdullah Sharadgah, T., & Abdulatif Sa’di, R. (2020). Preparedness of Institutions of Higher Education for Assessment in Virtual Learning Environments During the COVID-19 Lockdown: Evidence of Bona Fide Challenges and Pragmatic Solutions. Journal of Information Technology Education: Research, 19, 755–774. https://doi.org/10.28945/4615

4  Peytcheva-Forsyth, R., & Aleksieva, L. (2021). Forced introduction of e-assessment during COVID-19 pandemic: How did the students feel about that? (Sofia University case). THERMOPHYSICAL BASIS OF ENERGY TECHNOLOGIES (TBET 2020). https://doi.org/10.1063/5.0041862

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