Moving from a pen and paper in-class writing assessment to online assessment. Challenges, possible solutions, benefits and drawbacks

Research output: Unpublished conference presentation (presented paper, abstract, poster)Conference presentation (not published in journal/proceeding/book)Teaching and learningpeer-review


Pen and paper in-class writing assessments continue in many tertiary institutions. This is despite studies showing the positive impact on the quality of writing in technical aspects such as content, organisation, vocabulary and language use (Cheng, 2016), as well as other studies dating back over a decade showing that computer-generated essays are marked significantly higher than those of the paper-based essays (Lee, 2004) and that students using a computer pay more attention to higher order thinking activities while evaluating their written texts (Li, 2006). Reasons for persisting with pen and paper in-class assessments include maintaining test security and preventing plagiarism or other methods of ‘cheating’. Challenges include ensuring test security - i.e. once a question is put online, even when password protected, it will no-longer be secure; its practicability - i.e. will all test users be able to access the test; as well as the prevention of plagiarism - i.e. a test designed for pen and paper in-class writing might not transfer well to an online test even with the use of anti-plagiarism detection software. This presentation will examine the feasibility of moving pen and paper in-class writing assessments to an online format and assess both the benefits and drawbacks of doing so from a perspective of a tertiary institution in Hong Kong administering English writing tests to undergraduates. It will end with some suggestions for the way forward if online writing tests are to be extended. Cheung, Y.L. A Comparative Study of Paper-and-Pen Versus Computer-Delivered Assessment Modes on Students’ Writing Quality: A Singapore Study. Asia-Pacific Edu Res 25, 23–33 (2016) doi:10.1007/s40299-015-0229-2 Comer, D. K., & White, E. M. (2016). Adventuring into MOOC writing assessment: Challenges, results, and possibilities. College Composition and Communication, 67(3), 318. Lee, Y. (2002). A comparison of composing processes and written products in timed essay tests across paper-and-pencil and computer modes. Assessing Writing, 8, 135–257. Lee, H. K. (2004). A comparative study of ESL writers’ performance in a paper-based and a computer-delivered writing test. Assessing Writing, 9, 4–26. Li, J. (2006). The mediation of technology in ESL writing and its implications for writing assessment. Assessing Writing, 11, 5–21.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusNot published / presented only - 27 Nov 2020
EventAsia TEFL International Conference -
Duration: 1 Jan 2003 → …


ConferenceAsia TEFL International Conference
Period1/01/03 → …


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