SQA has had a commitment to and been exploring issues of e-assessment for many years, often in response to questions raised by colleagues in colleges who are enthusiastic about using e-assessment. Over the years this has led to the production of SQA guidance, case studies and pilots designed to communicate that e-assessment, in its varied forms, is an accepted method of assessment for SQA qualifications. We continue to seek ways to encourage the development and take up of e-assessment in colleges and other centres.
The benefits of e-assessment are well known: greater flexibility in when and where assessment can take place; opportunities to use different assessment approaches and evidence formats; more immediate feedback to learners; time savings for assessors and support for different learning styles and for learners using assistive technologies. It can also be used to encourage collaborative working and the integration of assessment in the delivery of SQA Units and Courses.
SQA recognizes that e-assessment also brings with it challenges for colleges, including difficulties in ensuring ongoing access to equipment and networks, and the updating of staff and learner skills, in order to respond to changing technologies.
We would encourage colleges to make use of SQA resources, as well as using available college VLEs tools and other e-assessment approaches to provide and support access to summative assessment for SQA qualifications. The SQA Solar assessment system provides access to free, formative and summative assessment for a range of qualifications. We also provide a free, prior-verification service for teaching professionals who wish to check that a new assessment or e-assessment meets the requirements of Unit specifications.
SQA is encouraging Unit writers, who are drawn from teaching communities across Scotland, to leave scope within Unit specifications for new assessment approaches to be used; approaches that will enhance the delivery, learning and assessment experience. The guidance we provide for Unit writers states that the mode of assessment should be flexible and not prescriptive, and that evidence requirements should be written to allow opportunities for e-assessment and electronic evidence to be used.
The subject specialists who create assessment exemplars for SQA Units are encouraged to incorporate the use of tools such as e-portfolios, blogs, online testing and web-based research, to enhance traditional assessment approaches such as case studies, assignments and projects, questioning, portfolios, performance and practical activities.
SQA’s quality enhancement procedures are also evolving to complement e-assessment approaches used in centres, and the processes required for the smooth handling of digital evidence generally. Over time this will include greater use of e-verification and e-marking.
It is our view that, in working collaboratively to make the most of the technology and resources available, we can maximize benefits for learners, colleges and SQA.
The e-assessment area of the SQA website offers information, guidance and support.