Technology has made a deep and wide impact on education. Every aspect of education- teaching, learning, pedagogy, curriculum, examinations, assessments, research, infrastructure, etc. has undergone transformation. Technology now integrates with each of these aspects of education. Some visible impacts of technology on education are- availability of digital learning content, conduction of online assessments, round the clock internet connectivity in schools, sharing research through internet, etc. This article, however, discusses one of the most distinct impacts that technology has made in the assessment process- designing questions for assessments. Such questions, called technology enhanced questions, make learning impactful and fulfilling.
The reader may visit the web-articles: How Has Technology Changed Education? at Purdue University Online; and How Has Technology Changed Education? at Ashford University, to know about the influence of tech on education.
The Need for Electronic Assessments
Ever since the education system started evolving, it began catering to a very wide spectrum of learners. The education system in schools and universities offered a plethora of courses. Such courses could be both full and part time, academic and professional. These courses attracted a large number of student enrolments.
The academia had 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 learners enrolled in a program. Thus, assessments happened not only at the culmination of a program but also during the course of the program. Formative assessments (during the course of a program) ensured that the learners get an idea of how well they follow 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, number of learners and the 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 successful in fulfilling 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 integrate more closely with the learning content.
What is a Technology Enhanced Question?
The modern education system calls for a continuous assessment and evaluation-based approach for imparting education and learning. This requires the integration and blending 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 devices such as computers, tablets or smartphones. Such devices offer an 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 so designed that it takes the learner beyond the usual approach of using memory recall to answer a question. A TEQ interacts with learners through electronic interfaces like keyboard, mouse clicks or touch-screen. 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 may visit the blog pages: What are Technology-Enhanced Items? at Learnosity.com and What Are Technology Enhanced Questions and What Do They Look Like? at Seeds of Literacy to develop a further idea of the concept of TEQs.
Additionally, readers may visit the article: Multiple Choice Questions as Effective Assessment Tools at the Evelyn Learning blog to know in detail about how MCQs have developed from simple memory-based questions to tools meant for effective assessment.
Types of Technology Enhanced Questions
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.). Discussed here are some of the most common types of TEQs formats.
Importance of Technology Enhanced Questions
TEQs based assessments offer a number of benefits. Discussed below are some of those distinct benefits.
TEQs stimulate higher order thinking among learners.
TEQs or electronic assessments, do not take much time for evaluation. In fact, evaluation can be real-time also.
TEQs are customizable and can meet a variety of learning objectives. Aptly designed TEQs are embed into a lesson or put together as a standalone assessment.
TEQs prove to be useful for modeling 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 behaviour and response.
The table presented above mentions a few examples of different types of TEQs commonly found in the assessments designed for learners. The reader may visit the web-pages: What are Technology-Enhanced Items? at Learnosity.com; and Assessment , Section 4: Measuring For Learning at the Office of Educational Technology, USA website to read about the importance of TEQs.