Does use of online self-marking coursework tool improve students overall performance?

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


Over the past few years, the use of online assessment methods with automated marking have been introduced to universities with great success. There is a vast improvement in student engagement with the assessments, and grades in general increase overall for the module. There is therefore a temptation to increase the use of these assessment tools, since there are clear benefits in decreasing the time taken in marking as well as improving consistency and type of feedback to students. However, the question remains as to whether individual students learn more from these eLearning tools, and how we should implement them in universities. Here we tracked the individual results from students across three modules to see how self-marking worksheets affected coursework grades in 2019 for either Biomedical Sciences or Biological Sciences (shared modules for these courses). From the first semester of the first year, students take the BY154 module in Infection Sciences, which uses standard assessment methods, and BY152 module in Biochemistry uses the self-marking worksheets. While the average mark for BY154 coursework was 50%, this was significantly different in BY152 where the average grade was 81%. The following year, the same students completed a similar piece of analysis as the BY152 module the previous year, this time in their coursework for BY270 in 2020. In the second year, the BY270 coursework was marked by standard assessment methods, and the average mark gained was 51%. Tracking individual students, analysis indicates that the marks for BY154 and BY270 coursework were similar, and that BY152 was different, even though the content of the assessment was closer to the BY270 taken in the second year. While the new eLearning tool enables students to learn as they progress through the worksheet, they should learn from their previous mistakes and gain instant feedback. As students’ progress through the questions and calculations, the interactive activity should enable the students to learn from their initial mistakes, gain feedback and improve on subsequent questions. Similar responsive learning tools have been previously published on learning of biochemical pathway (Roesler and Dreaver-Charles, 2018), yet this is the first time that students’ results have been tracked over time. While students’ grades improved in the first year BY152, that mark did not translate into an improved mark for a similar piece of coursework in their second year BY270. Therefore, the use of eLearning tools can be very useful and there are considerable benefits to their use, but must be used in moderation and with caution to ensure that the overall grade any student gains in a degree accurately reflects their academic abilities.
Roesler, W.J., Dreaver-Charles, K. Responsive eLearning exercises to enhance student interaction with metabolic pathways. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education; 2018; vol 46, Iss3, p223-229
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jul 2021
EventEducation and Student Experience Annual Conference - University of Brighton, Brighton, United Kingdom
Duration: 6 Jul 20218 Jul 2021


ConferenceEducation and Student Experience Annual Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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