How Integrated Autograded Technology Improves Autonomous Learning in Competency-Based Education

Concurrent Session 6
Streamed Session

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Session Materials

Brief Abstract

When students sense alignment between curriculum and assessment, the flow of learning can become euphoric. Immersing learners in the same platform to teach real-world skills through formative practice and to assess those skills invigorates that alignment. This presentation explores technology integrations improving alignment and online student outcomes and satisfaction.


Evolving leader of educational design with over eight years of professional experience. Recognized for excellence in collaborative design and development of engaging, inclusive learning experiences that empower adult learners to achieve academic and career success.
Experienced Instructional Designer and Educator with a demonstrated history of working in the higher education industry. Skilled in Learning Management Systems, Program Development, Project Management, and Curriculum Development. Strong education professional with a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) focused in Curriculum and Instruction, Instructional Technology from University of West Florida.

Extended Abstract

How Integrated Autograded Technology Improves Autonomous Learning in Competency-Based Education

In the realm of competency-based education, summative assessment must align to the students’ development of skills that will lead to success in the real world as they enter the workforce. Since competency-based summative assessment relies on real-world application, it is essential to provide students with curriculum and practice activities that will allow them to develop their skills in a real-world, but safe-to-fail environment. In past developments of several accounting courses, the formative and summative experiences manifested in the abstract by using simple text scenarios, equations, and multiple choice questions. While some summative assessments simulated the real world, they necessitated time-consuming analysis and grading by hand. In the most recent development, however, a new strategy was used to promote learning that aligned with the real world accounting environment. This strategy integrated spreadsheets technology with both an autonomous curriculum experience and an autograded summative assessment. The development team also used technology tools to quality check the strategy. The development faced and overcame several integration challenges to ultimately improve student satisfaction, completion, and on time progress.

Spreadsheets Technology in the Autonomous Learning Environment 

Since its initial calibration, the spreadsheet technology is used in numerous activities across a variety of accounting courses. This presentation will focus on its use in the beginner level Spreadsheets course and in the first of two Intermediate Accounting courses as these two developments represent the bulk of the challenges with initial calibration and integration. The technology uses existing spreadsheet software connected with a student university account through a vendor-published e-text and platform to:

  1. introduce software functions, techniques, and use cases 

  2. deliver low-stakes, autograded practice opportunities with individualized feedback

  3. Provide effective, targeted, autograded high stakes exams

Challenges in Calibration and Integration 

The development team faced and overcame several challenges in calibrating and integrating the spreadsheets technology for formative and summative assessment:

  1. Formatting of technology structure and functioning consistently
    Solutions: close communication across design team using dynamic quality reviews
    Creating a quality review process that all stakeholders are amenable in applying can be challenging. To solve this problem, your design team can use technology tools to streamline and clarify communications, track progress, and document possible project management or other development issues. In addition, sufficient use of these tools can create a more efficient and organized course quality review workflow among all stakeholders. This approach of adapting our course quality review technology tool can support your team in applying course quality benchmarks and learner outcome improvement strategies. It will also empower more efficient workflows to meet critical deadlines.

  2. Populating of student data in a vendor dashboard instead of the existing dashboard
    Solution: communication and training across faculty team
    It is essential to keep faculty and other stakeholders abreast of outcomes from a development. In this case, faculty required notification of the vendor dashboard where they could view students’ progress through the autonomous learning system. Pre-launch training for faculty on accessing and navigating their student data was also required since the vendor dashboard was separate from the learner dashboard typically used at the university. 

  3. Accessing summative assessment and its feedback through a vendor portal instead of the university student portal
    Solution: communication, training, and just-in-time support for students
    Typically students access all of their summative assessments through the launch page of their course in their student portal. With the spreadsheets technology integrated through vendor partnership, it was necessary for these summative assessments to be housed in the vendor platform instead. In order to avoid confusion in students looking to attempt the summative, we 1) communicated with all faculty of the change thorough multiple avenues, 2) shared training on the students’ launch page for how to access their summative assessment, and 3) added a banner notification within the vendor curriculum notifying them of the change to the standard method of access. 


One year after release, the data have shown success in the use of the spreadsheets technology. Student focus groups for the foundational spreadsheets course resulted in overwhelmingly positive feedback to the feature specifically calling out the ability to immediately apply real world concepts and the clear alignment between the formative activities and the summative assessment which both use the spreadsheets component. End of course surveys for the intermediate accounting course indicated a 27% increase in learner perceptions of alignment between curriculum and assessment and an 8% increase perceptions that the course content was relevant to their career goals

sESSion Participation and Interactivity

This session is designed to be an educational forum, with each panelist presenting details within 30 minutes on the autograded technology and its integration. on how our team applied the course review process during design and development.  The presentation will be supplemented by a public access interactive online training where participants can further explore the technology’s capabilities. There will be a short 5 minute poll taken with our attendees before the presentation and a 10 minute poll after the presentation to also include a question and answer session.  

Session Goals
Attendees of this session will (1) learn how to use technology tools to improve alignment between curriculum and assessment, (2) learn how to create a more streamlined course review process within their team, (3) see evidence of how the autograded technology improved student outcomes and student satisfaction.