e-Assessment: past, present and future


  • Thomas Hench


The goal of this paper is to provide an overview of the evolution of electronic assessment, or e-assessment, within the context of a developing e-pedagogy by investigating the changes occurring over time in the ways e-pedagogy is described. A historical review of behaviorist and constructivist learning theories first identifies elements common to pedagogies based upon these theories. Using an analogy with genetic markers, these elements (instruction, teaching, learning, assessment, and testing) are combined with specific electronic resources and functions (computer assisted/aided, computer-based, web-based, e-, and online) to form what the paper identifies as e-markers such as computer-assisted learning, web-based instruction, or e-assessment. These e-markers, in turn, provide the basis for tracing the history of e-pedagogy from the years 1975 to 2012. A meta-narrative approach, adapted to address the paper’s goal, then utilises e-marker frequency distributions resulting from abstract searches of the literature to trace the development of e-assessment as part of an evolving e-pedagogy. In particular, the narrative suggests that the initial model for e-pedagogy was a behaviorist learning environment which, as a result of technology providing a greater variety of tools, subsequently gave way to the present model – a constructivist learning environment. Application of the Rogers’ Diffusion of Innovation Theory provides a means to assess the future of a constructivist e-learning environment as a model e-pedagogy. By investigating the relative advantage, compatibility, complexity, trialability, and observability, of this model, the paper concludes that a more rigorous constructivist theory of teaching and learning is necessary if constructivist e-learning environments are to gain greater institutional acceptance. The paper concludes with a call for continued research related to the rising frequency e-markers such as mobile assessment and for future research directed at describing the pedagogical elements required by emerging massive open online courses.