EMA: the Electronic Management of Assessment

November 2, 2015 at 11:23 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Diagram showing assessment and feeback lifecycle

The assessment and feedback life cycle (adapted from an original by Manchester Metropolitan University) CC-NC-BY-SA

One of the great learning technology success stories of the past few years has been the rapid growth of e-submission where students submit their assignments online instead of in person at the Faculty office. This enjoys almost universal support from students due to its convenience, with no need to print the essay or queue to hand it in by the deadline. Unfortunately, that is also the point at which all kinds of challenges begin:

  • are those essays printed and then distributed to the markers by administrative staff?
  • or are markers willing to change their working practices and mark on-screen?
  • how are the grades and feedback returned to the student?
  • how does the system support penalties for late submission or extensions with mitigating circumstances?
  • does the system support policies such as anonymous and double-blind marking?
  • does the system support moderation and consequent changes to grades?

And within these larger challenges are important QA details such as whether an audit trail is retained showing both markers original grades and comments as well as the moderated grade and comments.

There are currently four systems in use at Southampton; the Blackboard Assignment tool, the Turnitin originality-checking system, our JISC-funded institutional e-Assignment tool, and the handin tool developed and used only by Electronics and Computer Science. None of them provide a complete solution and there is no institutional policy mandating their use for all (suitable) assignments.

Southampton is one of the partners on a JISC project about the Electronic Management of Assessment (EMA). This aims to support institutions who wish to develop their policies, processes and systems, and share case studies and examples of good practice. It recently published an online guide Transforming assessment and feedback with technology, and is developing a toolkit that institutions, faculties and departments can use to benchmark their current use of EMA and plan their next steps. ILIaD will be working with colleagues in faculties, iSolutions and Student and Academic Administration to help the University take a step change forward and ensure that everyone (students, academics and administrators) gain real benefits from online submission, marking and feedback.


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