Work in progress: building an infrastructure for digital assessment

Work in progress: building an infrastructure for digital assessment

by | 24 May 2018

In line with several other Dutch universities Maastricht University (UM) is currently exploring what it takes to organise digital assessment. The project focuses on several aspects: devices, location, software, organisational issues and last but not least didactics. All UM faculties are involved, by participating in one or more pilots and represented in the steering committee. Project lead is in hands of the University Library.


Hard- and software

Last year a test with a rather limited amount of students making use of laptops has been successful. It also led to the conclusion that, while many exams take place in MECC Maastricht, conditions need to be adapted to suit a scalable, stable and secured test environment. At the same time, the search began for assessment software which suits UM exams best. For the pilot phase, we decided to make use of RemindoToets-software. All faculties are involved in the definition of the requirements.


Pilots: one down – many to go

While LAW used the Remindo software for the Master of Dutch Law entrance test, seven mainly small pilots (with about 50 students per exam) from four faculties are scheduled before the end of this academic year (LAW, FPN, FSE, and SBE). FASoS postponed their pilots to the new academic year. Pilots vary on type of questions (multiple-choice questions, open essay assignments) and some make use of other applications to make the exam resemble what students learned in the course. Pilots can also differ in status; both summative and formative tests are planned.


Foto: Chamin Panapala

Foto: Chamin Panapala


Gains and challenges

Teachers defined expectations on what ‘digital’ could mean for their education. Gain can be reached when it comes to deciphering students’ handwriting, but also referring to logistics of creating and reviewing of test items, clustering items into (adaptive) tests, reproduction costs and organising the grading process. Think of distributing items to several teachers or skipping activities like gathering, delivering and safely storing exams. In the evaluation of the pilots all stakeholders will be questioned about their experiences in order to know what considerations we need to make if we want to upscale to digital assessment for more courses.

Provided decisions to make on budget and scope of digital assessment at UM, preparations are currently made for creating the technical infrastructure and support organisation for upscaling the service for all faculties.


Didactics and assessment

But having the opportunity to ‘go digital’ can also be the moment to reconsider what and how you want to assess your students. How assessment drives learning was the theme of a special Teach Meet in April, organised by EDLAB and UM Library. Topics touched upon were:

  • programmatic assessment
  • psychometrics behind computerised adaptive testing
  • how to pay attention to constructive alignment and thus optimise the coherence between curricular goals and assessment goals.


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