Assessment Feedback and the Impact of Online Exam Software

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Assessment Feedback and The Impact of Online Exam Software

It is well understood that the quality of feedback an individual receives after an assessment can positively impact their ongoing learning. In most cases, “feedback is the most powerful single moderator that enhances achievement.”1

Assessment feedback usually includes two elements. Firstly, a focus on the individual’s learning and how that has been demonstrated. Secondly, a focus on furthering their learning, often referred to as feedforward.2

Good feedback should justify why students receive a particular grade, identify specific qualities in the work done and guide learners on what steps to take to improve. It’s also very important to help a learner to develop the capability to monitor, evaluate and regulate their own learning.3

For feedback to be valuable and benefit learning, it should be:

  • Constructive: Highlighting strengths and weaknesses in a piece of work, and ways the student can improve.
  • Timely: Feedback should be given while the work is still fresh in the student’s mind, before they move onto new tasks.
  • Meaningful: It should target individual needs, and be received in time to benefit subsequent work.4

Time is therefore of the essence when it comes to the impact that feedback can have. The student should be still engaged with the area of learning in question, and understand how they can improve before future work is completed.

The Impact of Online Assessment Software on Feedback Quality

1. Speed to results after assessments

Marking paper scripts and entering results on an Excel spreadsheet is extremely time consuming and prone to error. Circulating paper scripts to multiple markers is cumbersome and also uses a lot of valuable time.

With online exams, auto-scorable question types are automatically marked on submission of the exam, with scores immediately available. For questions that require manual marking, such as essays, audio, video or diagrams, using online marking is a quicker, more secure and streamlined process.

This online approach means that learners can find out much more quickly how they have performed in an assessment. The feedback becomes more useful because the assessment they have done is still fresh in their mind, and can be used to benefit future work.

2. Highlight strengths and weaknesses

By using online item banking tools, where questions can be grouped and tagged according to course taxonomies , not only can results be given more quickly, but in addition assessment feedback on strengths and weaknesses can be automated based on the assigned tags. Reports can be automatically generated for learners showing the areas in which they have performed well, and the areas that require more attention. With this information, students are able to evaluate their own learning and make decisions about where to focus future revision.

3. Practice Tests

Online assessment solutions facilitate the easy set-up and delivery of practice tests. Awarding organisations can set up any number of practice tests on multiple topic areas for learners to take. Practice test feedback reports help learners to understand where they are performing well or poorly, allowing them to be better prepared for any final exam. Practice tests can also be set up to allow multiple re-sits, so learners can repeat the test and learn through repetition.

For example, ACCA uses TestReach to provide a catalogue of practice tests to students, who can access them at any time, online or offline. Diagnostic feedback is given and students are provided with mark schemas so they can self-mark their own work. This provides them with a much better understanding of the assessment, so they can better present their work in the live exam.

4. Online Marking

There are a number of tools in an online marking platform, such as TestReach, that guide markers when marking assessments. Features like double-blind marking and standardization ensure that marking is done within recommended guidelines. Rubrics help to match marks to the specific components and expectations for an assessment. Capturing marker comments on scripts makes it more streamlined for markers to give detailed feedback to learners after exams.

When marking is done online, it also makes it easier to share the process with the learner. For example, The Insurance Institute set up zoom meetings with candidates who have failed to talk through their online script, showing the marker notes and annotations, and giving constructive feedback as to how their script was marked.

5. Keep Feedback Aligned

Advanced on-screen exam tools help to assign marker roles and set up automated workflows for multiple markers, so no matter how long an assessment, or how many markers are involved, the process is efficient and secure. It also means that a Chief Examiner has visibility of all scripts - how they are marked, by whom, and can review marker comments easily. The helps to ensure that feedback given to students is aligned, and avoids the risk of inconsistent comments on the same piece of work.

Online assessment software can be used very effectively to deliver assessment feedback that is constructive, timely and meaningful, and thereby encourage students to self-regulate their own learning and exam preparation skills.

To learn more about TestReach item banking and online marking tools, plus features for uploading and managing formative assessments, get in touch with the TestReach team at and they will be happy to share further information and discuss your own requirements.

Read more about the roll out of practice tests for the ACCA here or the use of online marking tools at The Insurance Institute here

Read more about TestReach features here.

References used above and for further reading: