Innovation in digital assessment

People are increasingly and more frequently demanding to be able to use digital tools. This also applies to education. A large amount of course material is presented in a digital format; some schools already work with laptops and/or tablets. As a result, people are becoming more and more accustomed to using digital tools, which is also an argument for presenting exams digitally as much as possible.

It is a good idea to point out that, at the present time, exams with open questions are still virtually always marked by real people. Closed questions are marked by computers. Human marking has a greater margin of error than automated marking. Different types of prejudices can also play a role in human marking. In the future, it is not inconceivable that AI (artificial intelligence) will be used for marking open questions.

Several other innovations in digital assessment are discussed below:

  • Skills testing
  • Online proctoring
  • Fraud prevention

Skills testing

With respect to digital applications in the field of skills learning and testing, relevant developments, such as serious gaming and virtual reality, have taken off in recent years.

Serious gaming is a form of education and testing that goes beyond playing a game for fun. Research has already demonstrated the learning effect of serious gaming. You can learn more from serious gaming than you can from e-learning (source: itpedia.nl).

Virtual reality is also relevant in education, especially where the perception of students and exam candidates is involved. Because virtual reality gives you the feeling that you are part of a situation, it is not only easier to learn but also easier to give the right answers. Training more complex skills with serious gaming is especially booming.

Serious gaming and virtual reality are also used for making predictive assessments for businesses. The way in which air traffic controllers are examined is a good example in this respect. Serious gaming is used to assess the suitability of candidates for a job as an air traffic controller. Another example is the use of virtual reality in predictive and summative assessments of a candidate’s leadership skills. Assessment based on serious gaming and virtual reality generally has a high face (or perceived) validity. This means that the relevance to professional practice of this form of assessment is perceived by candidates as high.

Online proctoring

One of the methods for taking exams that is developing rapidly and significantly increasing flexibility for candidates is online proctoring. It is discussed below in more detail to provide insight into how the online proctoring process precisely works.

A candidate makes a recording of their surroundings and identify themselves with a webcam and a mobile telephone. The proctor can see what is happening on the candidate’s screen and, via the webcam, can also check the surroundings for any irregularities or unpermitted aids.

There are two variants: one with which the proctor is in direct contact with the candidate and one with which the proctor reviews the surroundings for irregularities after an exam has been taken. The second variant gives candidates more freedom regarding when and where they take an exam, but no action can be taken while the exam is in progress, for example if a camera does not point in the right direction. In both cases, it is important to take measures to protect candidates’ personal data and to ask permission to use online proctoring. This is particularly true when collecting, recording and storing visual material.

Fraud prevention

Finally, fraud prevention methods are being developed to detect unexpected answer patterns and unusual amounts of time spent on answering different questions. Possibly fraudulent practices can be tracked down on the basis of data analysis. This can, for example, be the case if a candidate needs almost no time at all to answer difficult questions correctly and takes a relatively long time to answer easy questions. This technique is still under development and the findings to date cannot be blindly assumed to be ‘true’. The technique cannot be used independently from other methods, such as direct observation at the exam location. If a candidate, for example, is believed to have cheated in an exam, subsequent data analysis can be used to verify or dispel suspicions.

Advances in digital assessment

In short: advances in digital assessment are being made on many fronts.

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