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Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) can be used as a resource repository but also as an environment to encourage independent student learning. Customised online assignments that can be assembled by the lecturer can be found in teaching resources such as Mastering Biology, developed by Pearson Publishers. In this study, student engagement in both summative and formative assignments was measured, and student attainment and qualitative feedback on the use of Mastering Biology was collected.
During the period 2010-2017, the online VLE Mastering Biology was used to create online summative assignments and promoted to the students as ‘incentivized reading.'
The results showed high student engagement in summative online assessment (94±3.2%) but lower engagement in formative online assessment (34±10.9%) and DSM assessment (36±3.5%) across all years. Student attainment increased after the introduction of Mastering Biology, in coursework (+13.2%), exams (+12.5%) and total module scores (+10.6%). Importantly, student feedback was also very positive about the implementation of Mastering Biology.
This study suggests that students display high engagement with the summative online assessment. Lower engagement in formative assessment could be due to differences in student motivation. Lack of engagement in this assessment could be used to identify disengaged students and intervention and extra support could be given.
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