Prof. Denise Whitelock The Open University

Technology Enhanced Assessment: Do we have a sheep in wolves clothing?

 A sea change in assessment, precipitated by both researchers and practitioners alike, was crystallised by a statement issued by the Assessment Reform Group, who have rejected the notion of Assessment that foregrounds cognitive ability tests that are valued for their predicted validity (Broadfoot, Daugherty, Gardner, Harlen, James & Stobart, 2002). The ARG set out to promote better alignment between teaching, learning & assessment and endorsed the term ‘Assessment for Learning’. This presentation explores the role that technology enhanced assessment can play in encouraging the assessment for learning agenda. It presents a number of cases of peer, self and computer assessments that display a range of characteristics for the next generation of assessment tasks.

The discussion of the cases reveals a missing characteristic, which is a form of feedback to the students that will take their learning forward which I refer to as “Advice for Action” (Whitelock, 2011).  Recent developments in automatic feedback systems for essay writing (Whitelock, Twiner, Richardson, Field & Pulman, 2015a and 2015b) will be presented and the role of visualisations and socio-emotive feedback in conveying meaningful feedback will also be discussed.

Since any feedback that is not understood or cannot be acted upon is likely to be ignored it will not facilitate learner improvement or confidence. This will always be a challenge – but how can technology enhanced assessment pursue this agenda?


Broadfoot, P., Daugherty, R., Gardner, J., Harlen, W., James, M. & Stobart, G. (2002). Assessment for learning: 10 principles, Research-based principles to guide classroom practice. London: Assessment Reform Group. Retrieved 4 April 2017, from

Whitelock, D. (2011). Activating Assessment for Learning: are we on the way with Web 2.0?  In M.J.W. Lee & C. McLoughlin (Eds.) Web 2.0-Based-E-Learning: Applying Social Informatics for Tertiary Teaching. IGI Global. 319-342.

Whitelock, D., Twiner, A., Richardson, J.T.E., Field, D. & Pulman, S. (2015a). Feedback on academic essay writing through pre-emptive hints: Moving towards ‘advice for action’. Winner of Best Research Paper Award. Special Issue of European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning, Best of EDEN RW8, 8th EDEN Research Workshop (eds. U. Bernath and A. Szucs). Published by European Distance and E-Learning Network, 1-15. ISSN 1027 5207

Whitelock, D., Twiner, A., Richardson, J.T.E., Field, D. & Pulman, S. (2015b). OpenEssayist: A supply and demand learning analytics tool for drafting academic essays. The 5th International Learning Analytics and Knowledge (LAK) Conference, Poughkeepsie, New York, USA. 16-20 March 2015. ISBN 978-1-4503-3417-4