Top Five Benefits of Online Assessments

Over the last few years, we have seen a shift in how educational assessments are administered. Previously, most international large-scale assessments (ILSAs), as well as summative school assessments, were taken on paper.

However, we are now seeing more and more educational authorities switch from paper-based to online assessments. This switch to online can prove beneficial for pupils, teachers and senior leaders.

1. Reducing workload

One of the main advantages of online assessments is that they reduce the amount of work teachers have to do for the same result. Features such as auto-marking, where questions are marked instantaneously by a computer, mean that teachers can access pupil data from an assessment straight after it was taken and without having to mark these questions themselves.

While teacher-marking is beneficial for gaining a deeper understanding of pupils’ knowledge and abilities, this can be used alongside auto-marking to speed up the marking process. In general, open-response questions, where pupils type their answers, benefit from teacher-marking, while closed-response questions, such as multiple choice, can easily be auto-marked.

2. Analysing and reporting data

The power of any assessment comes from the information it provides about both pupil attainment and their deeper understanding. Digital platforms can quickly present this data, first in relation to an agreed standard, whether that be average attainment or age-related expectations.

Second, online assessments can quickly generate a range of data across cohorts, giving teachers and school-leaders accurate information about strengths and misconceptions to adapt teaching and maximise pupil progress.

3. Motivating pupils

Many online assessments come complete with video animations, colourful images and a variety of ways of answering questions, including typing, dragging, drawing lines and selecting numbers, images or words. Pupils find this engaging because it is interactive and encourages them to manipulate their responses physically and visually.

This also enables some experimentation before committing to a final answer, and the ease with which errors can be erased or corrected may remove some of the fear of making mistakes that can be associated with taking assessments. This interactivity has the potential to make the assessment process a more enjoyable experience for both pupils and teachers.

4. Accessibility 

Online assessments facilitate the creation of a fair learning environment for every child. Disability adjustments, such as colour overlays for reading, can be easily accessed for multiple pupils in a assessment. In the same online assessment, pupils with visual impairments can adjust their own font size or use screen readers to have the assessment narrated to them.

Many online assessments also contain tools that would be available to pupils when taking paper-based assessments, such as virtual highlighters and reading rulers. Features like these can be adapted based on pupils’ individual needs.

5. Flexibility 

Thanks to advances in the types of questions that can now be asked digitally, it is possible to align the content of online assessments with the National Curriculum. This means that schools can use paper-based assessments alongside online assessments or choose whichever assessment format suits their school’s individual needs. For more information on how to use paper-based assessments alongside online assessments, look out for our next article.

Whichever assessments you choose at your school or academy trust (paper or digital), make sure that your tests are valid for the purpose intended and provide reliable results. 

To find out more about NFER’s range of paper assessments and our new NFER Online Assessments, visit our NFER Tests page.