In this paper, we review computer‐based assessment for learning (CBAfL), in elementary and secondary education, as a viable way to merge instruction and assessment of students' developing proficiencies. We begin by contextualizing our topic relative to summative and formative assessment before presenting the current literature, which we categorized into the following: (a) supplementary use in classrooms, (b) web‐based, and (c) data‐driven, continuous CBAfL. Examples of research studies per category are provided. Findings show that using CBAfL in the classroom, via the Internet, or embedded in a game, generally enhances learning and other outcomes across a range of content areas (e.g. biology, math, and programming). One conclusion is that feedback, to be most beneficial to learning, should not be overly complex and must be used to be effective. Findings also showed that the quality of the assessment (i.e. validity, reliability, and efficiency) is unimpaired by the inclusion of feedback. The possibilities created by advances in the learning sciences, measurement, and technology have paved the way toward new assessment approaches that will support personalized learning and that can accurately measure and support complex competencies. The next steps involve evaluating the new assessments regarding their psychometric properties and support of learning.
What is currently known about computer‐based assessment for learning (CBAfL)?
Early CBAfL systems were divided into linear and branching programs with no diagnostics and evolved into systems possessing more personalized/adaptive remediation with AI.
Current CBAfL can support a range of competencies in various digital environments.
Advanced learning analytic methods include learning analytics and stealth assessment.
What our paper adds to what is already known about CBA for learning?
Trends in our review suggest CBAs will improve in personalizing learning in a variety of contexts.
Innovative CBAfL techniques will move beyond the laboratory and into the mainstream.
Boundaries between instruction, learning and assessment will eventually become blurred, thus removing the need for high‐stake tests of learning.
What are the implications of our topic for practitioners?
With CBAfL advances, teachers will have more time to provide targeted support to learners.
Students would not need to worry about taking exams if CBAfL is continuous and formative.
Educators will be able to provide personalized learning experiences for diverse students.
Students will be equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in the 21st century.