Edinburgh College Increases their Use of e-Assessment and Integrates Moodle with Questionmark


 Edinburgh College works to meet the education and training needs of its 20,000 students, industry and wider community. Working in partnership with a wide range of local, national and international organisations, they strive to offer students an enhanced learning experience, having approximately 600 experienced staff at the college.

What prompted the switch to Questionmark?

During a College wide review and evaluation of learning and teaching practice all curriculum teams were asked if they would incorporate some element of e-Assessment/new technology into the delivery of their course and an extremely positive response was given from staff. As a result of this Edinburgh College were able to build a purpose built centre to deliver online assessments.  After building the dedicated centre they turned their attention to an authoring and delivery platform.  After looking at the available products they reached the decision to purchase Questionmark to enable them to author and deliver their own e-Assessments.

Questionmark in practice at Edinburgh College

Since Edinburgh College started using Questionmark in November 2009 they have authored 4,509 questions over 98 assessments across 29 curricular areas. Well over 50% of their e-Assessments in College are now authored and delivered using Questionmark.

The majority of these are diagnostic assessments which are intended to improve the learner’s experience and their level of achievement. It looks backwards and assesses what the learner already knows and the nature of difficulties that the learner might have, which, if undiagnosed, might limit their engagement in new learning. It is often used before teaching or when a problem arises. Edinburgh College has so far carried out 4,029 of these types of assessments.

Summative assessments are also delivered numerous times during the week. These demonstrate the extent of a learner's success in meeting the criteria and the intended learning outcomes of a module or programme. It is normally used at the end of a unit of teaching. Since using Questionmark 1,434 assessments have been taken. When delivering these assessments, Edinburgh College uses Questionmark Secure. Initially there were a number of security issues raised by staff, however, after running a number of sessions using Questionmark Secure these concerns were quickly alleviated.

Formative assessment is also an integral part of teaching and learning at Edinburgh College. Although it does not contribute to the final mark given for the module; it contributes to learning through providing feedback. Questionmark has enabled 1,305 of these assessments, indicating what is good about a piece of work, why it is good and how the work could be improved.

Integration using Questionmark's Moodle Connector

At Edinburgh College, Moodle has recently been introduced. In fact they have actually been using Questionmark longer than they have Moodle, so the majority of their e-Assessment is in Questionmark. Moodle has been integrated with Questionmark using the connector which allows students access to Formative assessments through Moodle without having to log in separately into Questionmark.
It enables their educators to create quality online courses and provide further help for students. This has helped the college to improve their methods of self-directed study.

Another way in which Questionmark has advanced learning at Edinburgh  College, is the use of coaching reports to direct classroom discussion and teaching and the now increased use of extended response questions which are integrated into assessments and marked online by tutor.

The Benefits and Feedback

 As the use of e-Assessment increased at Edinburgh College, their staff and students were asked for their feedback since joining Questionmark.  The evaluation of both staff and students who had been using the centre was very positive.  A few of the things mentioned by staff included; “Reduced printing costs“; Reduction in marking time”; “No reading of scripts – easier to understand”; “Better presentation of questions”; “Provides remote access”; “Improved accessibility”; “Instant scores and feedback through the coaching report”; “Available for learners to complete multiple times”.

Student feedback was also very encouraging for the college. Students felt it was “Easier to use”; they liked the “Instant feedback on your score”. Another went into detail stating “I didn’t panic as much as I was unaware of other people writing down things and turning pages, if I’m aware of this it makes me think that I’m not going fast enough and therefore I panic, however I don’t get that feeling with e-Assessment”. This is a feeling shared by many. In addition to this students felt that things had been improved because “If you make a mistake on a written question paper then have to score it out it causes you to make a mess, this can’t happen with e-Assessment”; “It Saves time, takes longer to write things down – now there’s no need to rush”; “Saves on paper and is environmentally friendly”.

The majority of Edinburgh College’s assessments would have previously been completed by paper.  Now lecturing staff have seen the benefits of using e-Assessment more formative assessments have been authored and delivered.  Questionmark has certainly made this easier as all authoring and delivery scheduling is completed by the e-Assessment team.

Future Plans Moving Forward

Since introducing Questionmark’s Assessment Management System, Edinburgh College has picked up a big award at the e-Assessment Scotland conference which they are thrilled about. E-Assessment now plays a major part in the curriculum.  Gavin Lang the college’s Qualifications and Standards Manager said that they are delighted to have worked with Questionmark and have been very pleased with the excellent support available to them. They have plans to move forward further with Questionmark in the future. One of which includes upgrading to 5.4 – which will enable them to pilot online observational assessments.