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E-assessment in the TRADILEX project


Assessing in virtual environments is a challenge and a need for the 21st century education. Assessment goes beyond accountability because, according to Camilloni, Celman, Litwin, & Palou de Maté (1998), it is an essential component of a planning for it provides both, students, and teachers, with relevant information on the process of learning and on the process of teaching. E-assessment has the advantage of providing students with immediate feedback and it can be implemented in different ways such as a web-based system with assessment tools (Alruwais, Wills, & Wald, 2018, p.34). Assessment is crucial for the TRADILEX project because after doing each activity in the course which aims at fostering language learning through Audio-visual Translation (AVT) tasks, students receive their feedback within a maximum span of time of seven days. Fernández Abascal et al. (2010) highlighted the importance of extrinsic motivation, which is a type of operant conditioning, when it comes to achieving a goal or completing a task, because you can alter the level of motivation by provoking certain stimuli. Burgers, Eden, van Engelenburg, & Buningh, (2015) highlighted how positive feedback is a booster for motivation.

When designing the TRADILEX project, the washback effect of the tests and the activities included on it was something crucial because as Harris & McCan (1994) affirm, the washback effect, which is the influence of a test in the course, plays an essential role since it is linked to motivation. According to Harries & McCan (1994, p. 27), in the field of language learning, a good test is that test which contains authentic and real-life examples of tasks learners will have to perform in the future. That is why the initial and the final tests for B1 and B2 used in TRADILEX were thoroughly designed by members of the team. The names of these tests were ITIS (Initial Test of Integrated Skills) and FITIS (Final Test of Integrated Skills) (Couto-Cantero, Sabaté-Carrové, & Gómez-Pérez, 2021). Even though the tests were originally designed for online environments, its implementation was a challenge that has been improved progressively according to the perceptions of both teachers and students in prepiloting experiences. Furthermore, the e-assessment dimension of the TRADILEX project goes beyond testing the language skills at the beginning and at the end of the project. García-Aretio (2014) focused on the importance of formative assessment in the design of e-learning courses, and it impregnates the TRADILEX project because every single task is assessed through an ad hoc interactive rubric.

Technological challenges

A project such as TRADILEX, which is fully developed in online environments, necessarily faces technological challenges such as:

  • Choosing an appropriate virtual platform.
  • Didactic-Mediated Dialogue (DMD).
  • Its asynchronous nature.
  • Dropout rate.

Choosing an appropriate virtual platform that centralizes the data is crucial when it comes to designing the e-assessment dimension of a project which is fully implemented online. Making use of multiple platforms could be discouraging for both teachers and students. In this case, the research team took the decision of making use of Moodle. The main advantages of Moodle are the following ones:

  • It is a free and open-source Learning Management System (LMS).
  • It includes apps for assessment and for learning: fora, chats, blogs, collaborative glossaries, testing tools, etc. Besides, more apps by developers may be installed to meet specific needs of the project.
  • It is based on a constructivist approach of learning in which social communication is at the very core.
  • It is constantly updated. Following García-Aretio (2014), DMD plays an essential role when it comes to designing virtual courses because it somehow replaces the role of the teacher by providing students with specific and clear instructions on how to follow the course. 

In the TRADILEX project, DMD has taken a prominent role and it is available in English and in Spanish. It has been embedded in the course through HTML and there is also a PDF guide available for students. Besides, each lesson plan has its own guidelines to facilitate the process. The main objective of this thorough design is to avoid dropout rate. Besides, taking the asynchronous nature of the course into account, different fora were created for specific purposes so that students and teachers could easily communicate with each other.

Good Practices

The good practices consist of the development of a system which aims at facilitating the communication between teachers and students through a series of e-rubrics for tasks and for tests that allows students to know their marks and their feedback when the teacher has just marked them as it is displayed in Figure 3.

The inclusion of communication tools as shown in Figure 2 and the thorough design of the DMD as displayed in Figure 3 are also good practices of the project. Students and teachers involved in TRADILEX show their satisfaction and express their positive feedback on the process of virtualisation and centralisation of e-assessment. In fact, the very nature of Moodle fosters ubiquity so teachers can assess anytime anywhere, by providing them with the flexibility they need. Besides, a specific space has been created for teachers so that they can share their thoughts on the process. This space contains video tutorials with the FQAs to facilitate the assessment task.

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Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA). Neither the European Union nor EACEA can be held responsible for them.