E-assessment in the teaching and learning of information technology at a higher education institution
Appiah, Martin Koranteng
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Recent developments in teaching and learning in higher education require of institutions to create learning environments which would enable their students to move away from the traditional, established norms of a surface learning approach to student engagement, and strategic and deep learning approaches. The latter are believed to ensure the delivery of graduates who can cope with the demands of the twenty-first century. In order for students to appropriately change their way of learning, there should also be a shift from the current focus on their abilities and lecturers’ teaching, to how they could learn best, and how they confront the learning process. Current views suggest that appropriate teaching and learning can occur if students are motivated to actively and deeply engage in the learning task by using teaching-learning activities that have been shown to have a high impact on student success. Furthermore, students can be empowered by using information and communication technologies (ICTs) to identify and reflect on what they learn, and improve their learning in this way. This can be effectively done in the context of blended learning, which includes face-to-face teaching and learning, e-learning, and also e-assessment. This usually takes place by involving special ICT-supported learning management systems (LMSs) that should ease the lecturer’s task of managing the teaching and learning environment, and also enhancing students’ learning experience. In light of the significance of ICT-enhanced teaching, learning, and assessment of student success in higher education, this study endeavoured to identify how student assessment should feature in an e-learning environment and how such e-assessment could best be implemented through the Moodle LMS. This does not only apply in my own teaching of Information Technology (IT) as a discipline, but also in the teaching of IT by other IT lecturers at the Computer Training Institute (CTI) in South Africa. A literature review exposed how the literature in general portrays the implementation of e-assessment in the teaching and learning of IT as an academic discipline in higher education. The empirical research that followed was informed by the literature and involved a qualitative, intrinsic, single case study research design with limited quantitative enhancement. The first round of empirical data collection involved questionnaire surveys and focus group interviews with purposefully selected IT lecturers and IT students of the institution. The self-constructed survey questionnaires were administered online and mainly contained open-ended questions. Two follow-up focus group interviews (one with IT lecturers and another with IT students) served as participant review opportunities of the findings of the initial questionnaire surveys, and thus strengthened the trustworthiness of the questionnaire data and findings. The IT lecturer survey focused on their experiences and perceptions of the implementation of e-assessment in their own teaching of IT. The IT student survey, on the other hand, focused on their experiences and perceptions regarding the role of e-assessment in their own learning of IT as a discipline. The findings from the literature review, the questionnaire surveys, and the focus group interviews were subsequently compared, converged, and integrated in order to compile a preliminary framework for the implementation of e-assessment in the teaching and learning of IT at the institution. The preliminary framework was subsequently reviewed and validated by a purposefully selected panel of experts in the fields of teaching, learning, assessment, e-learning, e-assessment, ICT, and the teaching of IT as a discipline. The experts were requested to complete a self-structured, online questionnaire in which they could rate the importance of each feature in the preliminary framework as well as provide comments and suggestions in this regard. The findings obtained from this expert survey led to the amendment, removal, or addition of some features in the final framework which is presented in the last chapter of the thesis. The significance of this study lies in the compilation of the framework for the implementation of e-assessment in the teaching and learning of IT in higher education. The proposed framework is based on sound theoretical principles reported in literature across the nation and the world, including guidelines provided by national and international assessment bodies, and was also informed by the expertise of participants that had relevant experience and knowledge pertaining to the topic. Fundamentally, this framework is based on an asset-based approach where the investigation of current effective practices is encouraged, and where individuals can learn from one another by frequently exploring the strengths and challenges pertaining to practices, and find practical solutions to problems. Although the aim of the study was not to generalise the findings; other stakeholders in higher education might opt to use these findings as a starting point whenever they intend to explore the implementation of e-assessment in their own teaching and learning. This is due to the generic nature of the features in the framework and since the framework is clearly not static.
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