The practicality and acceptability of using blended e-assessments as a summative measure of students' perfomance
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Against a background of increasing class sizes, relative decline in teaching staff, and the need to align assessment techniques with new modes of teaching and learning, the Department of Accountancy at the University of Zimbabwe made a decision to use e- assessments in two compulsory undergraduate Information Systems courses. This paper reports on a study to evaluate the practicality and acceptability of using summative e-assessments in the department. It is anticipated that the lessons learned from the study would be useful in the formulation and implementation of universitywide summative e-assessment strategies in future. The study was conducted with students taking compulsory courses in Information Processing and Accounting Information Systems. It commenced in 2009 and has now run consecutively over four semesters. The use of summative e-assessments has proved to be an effective assessment technique. The number of students sitting for computer based exams has increased from 330 in December2009 to more than 700 in June 2011. Although careful planning and administration are key factors in the successful implementation ofe-assessments, student preparation has been identified as the most fundamental key factor. Evaluation has revealed that a large majority of students prefer e-assessments to pen-and-paper based assessments. Students regard e- assessments as being not only less stressful but also more interesting than pen-and- paper based assessments. The University should now embark on a programme to develop and implement university-wide summative e-assessment strategies aimed at phasing out pen-and-paper based assessments.