Technology has made a deep and wide impact on education. Every aspect of education- teaching, learning, pedagogy, curriculum, examinations, assessments, research, etc. has undergone a transformation. Technology is integrated into each of these processes in one way or another. Some of the most commonly visible impacts of technology in education are- the availability of learning content through electronic documents and lecture videos, conduction of online assessments and sharing of research through the internet.
The education infrastructure also has undergone a transformation. For instance- classrooms are equipped with projectors, school and college campuses offer round the clock internet connectivity to academia and educators can reach out to learners beyond the campuses through the internet.
This article, however, discusses one of the most distinct impacts that technology has made in the assessment process- designing questions for assessments.
The need for Electronic Assessments
Ever since the education system started evolving, it was required to cater to a very wide spectrum of learners. The education system in schools and universities was supposed to offer a plethora of courses. Such courses could be both full time and part-time, academic and professional. These courses attracted a large number of student enrolments.
The academia was expected to ensure the achievement of learning outcomes in each of these programs. Assessments have always been the tool of preference to serve this purpose. Different kinds of programs called for different kinds of assessments. The developing education systems called for a continuous assessment and evaluation of the learners enrolled in a program. Thus, assessments were conducted not only at the culmination of a program but also during the course of the program. Formative assessments conducted during the course of a program ensured that the learners get an idea of how well they were following a course. Summative assessments conducted at the culmination of a program helped in grading students as per their acquired knowledge level.
Thus, considering the kinds of assessments to be conducted for a number of learners, across a plethora of courses, it was quite obvious that assessments could not remain a manual process entirely. In addition, assessments had to be uniform and standardized in all aspects for all the students enrolled in a program. There was a need for some kind of automation. Electronic assessments have been found to successfully fulfill the requirements of the modern education system. They have developed and evolved in terms of their form, design, and pedagogy. From the classical “multiple-choice questions” to the “technology-enhanced questions” in use today, electronic assessments are way more closely integrated into the learning content than ever before.
The modern education system calls for a continuous assessment and evaluation-based approach to imparting education and learning. This requires the integration of the processes of teaching and evaluation. Assessments embedded into learning content in a manner that is engaging for learners helps achieve this objective.
A majority of the learners today are active users of interactive technology-based devices such as computers, tablets or smartphones. Such devices offer intuitive experience to users, thus keeping them engaged. A Technology-Enhanced Question (TEQ) or Technology-Enhanced Item (TEI) has its origins in this very observation.
A TEQ is designed to take the user beyond the usual approach of using memory recall to answer a question. A TEQ interacts with learners through features such as- keyboards, mouse clicks or touch-screens, which are offered and enabled by the electronic medium/device. This interaction keeps the learners engaged, which ultimately leads to a fulfilling learning experience.
MCQ format is one of the most elementary and classical forms of TEQ. The MCQs are the outcome of the very first attempt to standardize the assessment process. The design of MCQs has now evolved and developed to a point where it can also assess the level and extent of learning acquired by a student.
The reader is suggested to refer to our article: Multiple Choice Questions as Effective Assessment Tools to know in detail about how MCQs have developed from simple memory-based questions to tools meant for effective assessment.
In addition to the MCQs, there are a wide variety of TEQ formats which are available for developing assessments. They range from the fairly simple type (MCQs, true/false, etc.) to TEQs for mathematics (Expression evaluator, fraction editor, graphing, etc.) and TEQs for English Language Arts (editing, passage-based, etc.).
Some of the most common types of TEQs which are employed widely for all kinds of courses are discussed here.
Drag & Drop: Such TEQs require students to drag an item from one side of the page to under/over an item on the other side such that a sequence of events or operations is correct. It helps students understand and develop the concept of associations and sequencing.
Drop Down: Such questions comprise a list of options that appear in a menu. Students are supposed to pick the correct option. This format may be used to evaluate a student’s knowledge of grammar, word meanings, etc.
Text Highlighting: Students are supposed to click on words or phrases in a passage that mean the same as the words given in the question. The highlighted phrase could also be an answer to a question that is based on the passage.
Multiple Selection: Students select more than one option from a given list. These multiple questions may be synonyms for the word given in the question. The multiple could also be the solution to an equation given in the problem statement.
Equation Editors: Using the special keyboard provided in the software, students can write mathematical expressions to solve equations, write fractions, etc.
Table 1 presented below mentions a few examples of different types of TEQs that are commonly found in the assessments that are designed for learners these days.
Classic Question Types
Math Tech Enhanced
ELA Tech Enhanced
Text Drop Down
Drag and Drop
True or False
Match the following
Table 1. Examples of Technology Enhanced Questions (TEQs)
Importance of Technology Enhanced Questions
There are a number of benefits that can be availed through the adoption of TEQs based assessments. Some of these distinct benefits are discussed here.
TEQs are believed to stimulate higher-order thinking among learners.
TEQs or electronic assessments, for that matter, do not take much time for evaluation. In fact, evaluation can be offered in real-time also.
TEQs are customizable and may be designed to suit a variety of learning objectives. They can be embedded in a lesson or put together as a standalone assessment.
TEQs can be used to model real-world scenarios. Since TEQs can capture a student’s response in real-time, it makes them useful in the analysis and study of learner behavior and response.