Academic journal article Quarterly Review of Distance Education

Assessment Strategies, Self-Regulated Learning Skills, and Perceptions of Assessment in Online Learning

Academic journal article Quarterly Review of Distance Education

Assessment Strategies, Self-Regulated Learning Skills, and Perceptions of Assessment in Online Learning

Article excerpt

This study investigated the effects of assessment strategies and self-regulated learning skills on students' learning and perceptions of assessment for learning. The results revealed no statistically significant difference in the immediate skill-based and cognitive learning outcomes, but peer assessment teams scored significantly higher than the other teams in the subsequent collaborative writing process. Significant interaction effects were found in the participants' perceptions of assessment for learning. The findings support the emphasis on assessment processes and long-term learning benefits, and provide further evidence for the benefits of using assessment strategies and the value of learner assessment experience in online environments.

INTRODUCTION

Developing assessment techniques is one of the four primary research goals identified by Oncu and Cakir (2011) in their analysis of research priorities and methodologies for online learning environments. This research priority becomes more meaningful when considering Shepard's (2000) call of moving away from the traditional, incompatible measurement culture and aligning assessment with the emergent, new beliefs about learning. The focus of assessment has been moving away from the traditional assessment of learning to assessment for learning, with a greater emphasis on formative assessment processes that are empowered by various learning technologies. The goal of this study was to investigate self-regulated learning (SRL) in formative assessment processes involving students in online learning.

The formative assessment activity investigated in the study was essay writing. Potentially, essay writing can be an effective way for assessing an array of academic competencies such as conducting a literature search, synthesis, the articulation of ideas, and critical judg* ment (Pain & Mowl, 1996). Essay writing, as a popular method used in traditional classrooms, enables learners to practice these academic skills and develop higher order thinking and learning. It continues to be one of the most commonly designed learning activities in online environments where learners are faced with significant writing demands. Written projects play an important role in online instruction, even in disciplines that are normally not writing intensive, and both students and online classrooms actually exist as formal writing such as essays or projects, or informal writing such as emails, discussions, or chats (Gray, 2002). However, research in essay writing has revealed problems that include the difficult, time-consuming evaluation process, reliability and subjectivity in grading, and communication of expectations and feedback (Pain & Mowl, 1996; Read, Francis, & Robson, 2005). Among the recent efforts to identify strategies to improve essay writing for assessment purposes, a number of researchers (Covic & Jones, 2008; Orsmond & Merry, 2011; Orsmond, Merry, & Reiling, 2005; Weaver, 2006) investigated students' perceptions of feedback, resubmission, tutoring, or assessment formats. By Kraiger, Ford, and Salas' (1993) categories of learning outcomes, this study investigated learners' skill-based, cognitive, and affective outcomes measured by online learners' essay writing, a content knowledge test, and perceptions of assessment respectively. In summary, this study focused on the following research questions:

1. What are the effects of assessment strategies (instructor/teaching assistant assessment, self-assessment, and peer assessment) and SRL skills on online learners' skill-based and cognitive learning outcomes?

2. How do the perceptions of assessment for learning change among the online learners with different levels of SRL skills after an essay assessment and rewriting process?

3. Do SRL skills and assessment strategies have an impact on online learners' collaborative writing following an individual essay rewriting and assessment process?

REVIEW OF LITERATURE

Formative Assessment

Black and William (1998) stated that formative assessment is effective in improving learning regardless of educational levels and content areas. …

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