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M.A. Longo, M. Pazos, M.A. Sanromán

Universidad de Vigo (SPAIN)
The use of web-based learning and assessment tools is growing around the world. Web-based formative assessments offer clear advantages for students: immediacy of feedback; flexibility in time and place of undertaking the assessment; feedback can provide links to learning resources, thereby providing motivation to study; opportunity for repetition; and interactivity [1]. Furthermore, a comparative study has reported that online formative assessments might be of greater benefit for learning than paper-based equivalents [2]. These are persuasive arguments for moving from paper-based to online formative assessments.
The main objective of this paper is to report on the development and evaluation of an online formative assessment tool for undergraduate student group of Chemical and Biology in the University of Vigo. Formative assessments are designed for the purpose of giving feedback on performance and suggestions for improvement, and are intended to promote students' learning. Formative assessments that provide timely, relevant and supportive feedback (not just grades) can contribute to improved learning outcomes [3].
In this kind of process is very important the design and implementation of multiple-choice tests as a part of a computer-aided learning system in teaching. In this study, we selected a system multiple-choice questions, each with five possible responses (only one of which was correct), administered via the University e-Learning service. The questions were categorized into three levels of difficulty, such that there were 33% of questions per level of difficulty. Although progression from easier to more difficult questions is proposed to be contingent upon adequate performance in the tool that will be implemented for students, in the present study questions were presented in random order and each student could completed using any computer with Internet access. It has been determined that this online formative system is very popular and the participation rate for these students has, on average, been greater than 90% in all courses tested. In several cases the students attempted the assessments on multiple occasions, until they achieved the correct solutions of the all tests proposed.
The results support the contention that well designed formative assessments can have significant positive effects on learning. Our experience indicates that the assessment system is a very good tool for predicting overall student performance, as well as, for assisting the lecturer in analyzing students' level of knowledge and understanding.

[1] Velan GM, Kumar RK, Dziegielewski M, Wakefield D. Web-based assessments in pathology with QuestionMark Perception. Pathology. 2002;34: 282-284.
[2] Derouza E, Fleming M. A comparison of in-class quizzes vs. online quizzes on student exam performance. J Comput High Educ. 2003;14: 121–134.
[3] Velan GM, Jones P, McNeil HP, Kumar RK. Integrated online formative assessments in the biomedical sciences for medical students: benefits for learning. BMC Medical Education 2008, 8:52