The importance of feedback for learning has been highlighted by a number of authors, emphasising its role in fostering meaningful interaction between student and instructional materials (Buchanan, 2000), its contribution to student development and retention (Yorke, 2001), but also its time-consuming nature for many academic staff (Gibbs, 2006). In distance education, where students work remotely from both peers and tutors, the practicalities of providing rapid, detailed and regular feedback on performance are vital issues.
Gibbs and Simpson suggest eleven conditions in which assessment supports student learning (Gibbs and Simpson 2004).
Four of these conditions, those in italics, are particularly apposite with regard to the use of eAssessment with distance education. They are reflected in the design of OpenMark and are amplified in the rationale behind the development of the S151, Maths for Science, online assessments (Ross, Jordan and Butcher, 2006) where
Buchanan, T. (2000) The efficacy of a World-Wide Web mediated formative assessment, Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 16, 193-200
Gibbs, G. and Simpson, C. (2004), Conditions under which assessment supports students' learning. Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, 1, pp 3-31
Gibbs, G, (2006) Why assessment is changing, in C. Bryan and K. Clegg (eds), Innovative assessment in Higher Education, Routledge
Ross, S, Jordan, S and Butcher, P (2006), Online instantaneous and targeted feedback for remote learners, in C. Bryan and K. Clegg (eds), Innovative assessment in Higher Education, Routledge
Yorke, M. (2001) Formative assessment and its relevance to retention, Higher Education Research and Development, 20(2), 115-126