The evolving role of online assessment as a steering mechanism for 21st-century learning

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Framed by Jürgen Habermas’ theory of society as being constituted of systems and lifeworlds, this project aims to critically analyze the recent academic literature on online assessment in higher education. Through a metasynthesis template analysis, the research in this project intends to uncover themes that help elucidate what informs assessment design, development and implementation in online learning and the impacts this has on teaching and learning. The findings suggest that online assessment in higher education is geared towards instilling 21st century learning skills through more formative assessments. However, somewhat paradoxically, the desire to instill these skills and satisfy institutional imperatives is leading to the closer monitoring of student learning and activity through assessments. These developments in online learning are contributing to the changing roles of teachers and students, with the former entailing a focus on facilitation, or management, and the latter an emphasis on self-reliance. Nevertheless, there remain opportunities for collaboration and communicative action through online assessment practices.
Higher education, Online learning, Online assessment, Critical theory, Habermas