Five ways digital assessment can enhance the candidate experience
By Ian Castledine, Head of Proposition – High Stakes Assessment, RM
The notion that technology can transform the education and assessment space is not a new one. Yet, it is often still associated with increased automation and reduced learner engagement and interaction. But as assessment technology continues to develop at pace, particularly post-pandemic, new possibilities to enrich the student or candidate experience are being realised.
There has been acknowledgement of the benefits of digital assessment for organisations, such as more powerful data analysis capabilities and improved security. However, assessment technology is much more than a practical tool to help streamline assessment processes.
Given the increasing focus on student wellbeing in the education sector, especially after recent disruption from school closures and uncertainty around exams, we have whittled down our top 5 ways digital assessment can enrich the student experience.
1. Digital assessment can provide a more engaging experience
The adaptable nature of assessment technology allows organisations to use different forms of content and question types in their assessments. For example, the use of rich media elements such as video and audio and the ability to use dynamic graphics to visualise more complex data sets can create a much more engaging experience compared with traditional paper assessments that are limited to static images and simple charts.
It also creates new possibilities to give candidates freedom to personalise their own experience, such as the ability to pick topics and question format.
Adopting an assessment for learning approach by utilising technology can also significantly impact student engagement and interaction. A study on using digital tools for assessment for learning described in Assessment in a Digital Age: A Research Review published by the University of Bristol showed ‘high levels’ of ‘student satisfaction with the assessment process, improvement in learning results and more self-reflection from learners on their own work due to the involvement of peers’.
In short, digital assessments can create a much more engaging experience compared with traditional paper assessments that are limited to static images and simple charts.
2. Digital assessment can improve accessibility
Digital tools give organisations the ability to implement a much wider range of adjustments to test content more easily and quickly than would be possible with traditional paper assessments. Examples include adapting the appearance and layout of text to help candidates with Dyslexia make their reading more efficient or using text-to-speech software to assist students with visual difficulties.
Candidates can also benefit from the option to complete assessments anytime, anywhere and on any device which can remove barriers such as the costs associated with travelling to a test centre or minimise disruption caused by events out of their control, such as severe weather.
In short, the potential for technology-enhanced assessment to improve accessibility and inclusivity is huge.
3. Digital assessment is relevant to the real world
Now that technology permeates almost all aspects of our lives, digital literacy is more important than ever. Many of today’s students are already embedded in a digital world and therefore feel much more comfortable writing onscreen as opposed to using a pen and paper.
Aligning assessment with the way students use devices every day is one of the issues that New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) sought to address when they decided to adopt digital assessment to deliver their national exams. Find out more about NZQA’s journey to digital assessment.
Learners want to be well-equipped for the real world. By using digital assessment, organisations can enrich the candidate experience by helping prepare them for the experiences they will have once they enter the world of work.
Similarly, professional associations are seeing demand from their members to implement systems of assessment that mirror their professional reality with most of their day-to-day work done onscreen.
In short, learners want to be well-equipped for the real world, and by using digital assessment, organisations can enrich the candidate experience by helping prepare them for the experiences they will have once they enter the world of work.
4. Digital assessment can facilitate quicker feedback
Students want to get results and feedback quickly. Traditionally, teacher workload and the lengthy logistical processes involved with pen and paper assessments have meant candidates often have long waits for feedback, narrowing the window in which students can act on it and work to improve their performance.
Digital assessment is a game-changer in this sense. Auto-scoring means automated feedback can be provided instantly once a candidate has completed an assessment. More detailed teacher feedback can be issued much more quickly using the reporting functions within assessment platforms.
In short, digital assessment allows students to get results and feedback quickly and efficiently.
5. Digital assessment can boost wellbeing
It’s no secret that exams and assessment can induce feelings of stress and anxiety among some candidates. Education and qualification providers looking to increase their focus on student wellbeing could utilise assessment technology to help combat stress, as noted in this article published by Jisc.
The flexibility afforded by digital assessment allows organisations to empower candidates to sit tests when they are ready and prepared to do so instead of scheduling exams to take place at specific dates and times each year.
By using remote proctoring (invigilation) software, learners can complete assessments in the comfort of their own home helping them to feel less pressured and anxious.
In short, removing some of the pressure and anxiety associated with traditional assessment can empower candidates to perform to the best of their ability, driving better overall performance and a better candidate experience.
Making a tangible difference to learners
The role that assessment plays in the learning journey should not be underestimated. Awarding organisations and educational institutions have an opportunity to make a tangible difference to the learner experience, from catering to specific educational needs easily and quickly, to equipping them with the digital skills they need to succeed in the real world.