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Blended Learning Examples

Test banks for Formative Self-assessment and Feedback

Test banks for Formative Self-assessment and Feedback

LAWS10072 Criminological Research Methods
Personalised Learning and Academic Advising, Assessment
Support in developing and integrating formative assessment

Test banks are a relatively novel product within publishing houses. Publishers test banks are available for leading textbooks in higher education.

In this specific case, the course director of this new undergraduate level 1 compulsory module, LAWS 10072 Criminological Research Methods came across test banks after casting around for a core text. He had not encountered test banks before and decided to incorporate them into the course as compulsory non-assessed coursework.

Jon contacted the publisher (Oxford University Press) and, with Publisher permission, he imported the test bank into Blackboard.

The course director saw test banks as a method for students to self-test knowledge of individual chapters. Test banks offered 1) formative feedback after each question - explaining what the correct answer was and why, and directing the student to the relevant textual source; and 2) it was possible for Blackboard to automatically score and log the test results.

Test Banks, piloted in this manner, aided learning among keen/diligent students without the formality or the supervisory requirements of a class exam. They both tested and reinforced knowledge but also acted as a stimulus to further learning.

One or two limitations were noted: 1) the depth of information that can be conveyed in the Test Bank feedback, and 2) the use of automatic marking (e.g. poor spelling in text-response answers penalises students unconditionally even where mitigating circumstances are legitimate).

However, Test Banks encourage students to test themselves and become aware of their own understanding of topics covered during the course - ocurring even when an individual question answer was correct but not for the exact reason the student supposed.


  • Using assessment to consolidate students' understanding of course materials, encouraging better performance, self-testing and autonomous learning
  • A test bank can supply instant automated feedback on student responses as well as page references to the text
  • Time saver: automatic marking or self-assessment does not require academic time for marking
  • Re-usability: self-assessment can be re-used in subsequent years
  • Requires low level of technical expertise