The DALDIS (Digital Assessment for Learning informed by Data to motivate and incentivise students) Project was a three-year EU funded Erasmus+ eAssessment Project that commenced in 2019. Involving eight partners and schools in five countries (Ireland, Poland, Turkey, Greece and Denmark) the project aimed to pilot test and adapt a digital assessment for learning solution designed to drive students’ learning progress using well designed question sets and student feedback. Although Assessment for Learning (AFL) or Formative Assessment (FA) using digital technology has great potential for teaching and learning (Maier, 2014; Russell, 2010) it is still in its infancy and not widely used in European classrooms. DALDIS set out to address this deficit by designing and researching the application of AFL methodology using technology for two subject areas - Science and Modern Foreign Language learning (MFL), namely English and French, in years 5 through 9 in the partner schools.
DALDIS is underpinned by AFL/FA theory and educational technology. The project is built on the principle that formative assessment is one of the best methods to encourage student achievement (Hattie, 2009) and William and Black’s (1988) definition of formative assessment practices as methods of feedback which inform teaching and learning activities. Good assessment practices are essential for learning and teaching and the increased use of technology in education has been demonstrated to improve assessment at various levels (JISC, 2007).
The backbone of the project is the Study Quest technology platform (www.study-quest.com) and methodology in which well-designed question-sets and student feedback help to build students’ knowledge and understanding of core curriculum concepts. To this end a key feature of the DALDIS project design is the use of carefully designed ‘Feedback’ for all questions that helps to ‘nudge’ students towards the right answer while at the same time reinforcing basic knowledge and conceptual understanding. This is achieved by giving feedback on both correct and incorrect answers thereby eliminating the perils of guesswork where students choose the correct answer by chance, or do not understand why the answer they chose is wrong when a simple ‘X’ with no explanation appears. Investigative questioning is supported through carefully designed questions to encourage students to research additional information working individually or collaborating to think through topics more deeply to find answers.
At a technical level Study Quest incorporates the most important elements of a robust eAssessment system including ease of use and accessibility, interoperability, security and effective feedback features to provide vital information to students and teachers. Importantly, it has been designed to support a variety of systems, devices, and browsers at school and at home (Tomasik, Berger & Mosser, 2018). It also provides functionalities to manage student assessment data such as background statistical information and analysis of student progress. Using Study Quest, and in particular the teacher dashboard, a teacher can monitor student progress on an ongoing basis.
The first implementation of StudyQuest known as JCQuest (www.jcquest.ie) was substantially complete in beta form immediately prior to the project’s commencement. Targeting Science and French (MFL) in Ireland’s Junior Cycle Curriculum, a 3-year programme aimed at 12–15-year-olds, this innovative resource comprises multiple choice question-sets in the form of lesson units, derived from core curriculum concepts to ensure the assessment material fully aligns with classroom lessons. DALDIS set out to create similar adaptations, working models and curriculum aligned question-sets for its key school-based partners in Poland, Turkey, Greece and Denmark and evaluate their effectiveness. Thus, united by a common technology platform and methodology the project consortium came together under the auspices of DALDIS to trial and test out an eAssessment approach to AFL/FA in their respective countries and adapt it for their own specific curricula.
Thus, over the course of the project’s lifecycle six assessment systems were completed for the project’ main partners in Poland, Turkey, Greece, and Denmark to address the learning and assessment needs of students and teachers using technology for Science and MFL. Resources were also developed for these subjects for the UK’s GCSE curriculum to demonstrate the technology’s adaptability potential. Extra curriculum resources were created in Denmark, Turkey and Ireland for History, Information Technology and Geography respectively based on specific partner needs as the project matured. Additionally, the project increased teacher exposure to, and experience with AFL methodology, and improved their knowledge of how to develop good formative assessment materials using technology. Unexpectedly, in Ireland the project also addressed a clear demand for a quality learning and assessment resource at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
As a result of an early beta release of JCQuest in Ireland in 2020, 1,222 Irish students used the platform to support online and remote learning during long periods of schools’ closures in 2020 and 2021. During the main pilot period involving all partner countries in the academic year 2021/2022, a total of 4,365 students used the system which far exceeded the initial target of 1,000 users originally envisaged which suggests that the project addressed key learning and assessment needs for teachers and their students. More detailed findings on the project’s reach and impact are available in the five country case studies available under Output 5 on this website. The individual country assessment systems can also be accessed from this site under Output 3 as well as from the DALDIS project materials page at https://www.jcquest.ie/content/courses/kka-dcm-csy/info/