Digital Portfolio Assessment of Secondary Students' Scientific Enquiry Skills: the e-scape project

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This paper reports on the development of a digital system to assess secondary school students’ scientific enquiry skills as an alternative to current modes of assessment at GCSE-level (age 16) in England. Part of the larger ‘e-scape’ project comprising parallel developments in design & technology and geography, the research has focussed upon the development of a controlled assessment activity undertaken by students in a three-hour period, using hand-held digital devices to record their responses using text, digital photographs, drawings, spreadsheets, video and audio commentary. Following trialling with 135 students in 3 schools, a team of 6 judges were invited to assess the resulting electronic portfolios using a ‘Thurstone pairs’ approach (Greatorex et al. 2008), yielding a rank order with an acceptably low error value and moderate correlation with predicted GCSE grades for the students concerned. Moreover, judges, teachers involved in trialling and students viewed the activity and assessment system as more motivating and potentially more valid in capturing scientific capability than existing modes of practical assessment in use in England. Awarding bodies (examination boards) are currently evaluating this development work with a view to introducing alternative forms of ‘e-portfolio’ assessment in the future.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationContemporary science education research: learning and assessment
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of ESERA 2009
EditorsG Cakmakci, M. F. Taşar
Place of PublicationAnkara
PublisherPegem Akademi Yayıncılık
Number of pages7
ISBN (Electronic)9786053640332
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010


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