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Students’ perceptions of computer-based assessment: a case of UKZN.

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Assessment may be defined as the process of measuring the skill, capability, understanding and knowledge of an individual. It may also be defined as the process that involves testing of students’ knowledge about what they have been taught. Over the years, students have been undertaking assessments using pen, pencil and paper. Assessments administered in this mode are regarded as paper-based assessment (PBA). However, due to the ever-growing nature of technology, the use of information and communication technology (ICT) was introduced into the assessment process, and this has influenced the way assessments are being administered, especially in academic institutions. Due to this introduction, assessments are now administered using computers, and such assessments are regarded as computer-based assessments (CBA). According to the literature, the use of CBA offers more advantages than the use of PBA. Hence, academic institutions now adopt the use of CBA over PBA. This adoption has led to certain controversial reactions among researchers. Notable among these reactions is that, when an identical assessment is administered as PBA and CBA, there are differences in the assessment results of students. These differences are said to have arisen from the different perceptions of students about CBA Studies have been conducted on students’ acceptance and adoption of CBA, but few investigations have been carried out on the perceptions of students about CBA. Hence, this study was aimed at investigating the perceptions of students about CBA, by taking into account, students’ preferred mode of assessment and the challenges they experience in the use of CBA. This study further proposed possible means of managing these challenges. To achieve the objectives of this study, a descriptive design was used, and quantitative methodology was employed to collect and analyse data. Questionnaires were distributed to a total of 357 students and analysis was carried out on the collected data using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS). The results obtained from this study showed that students find it easy to undertake CBA, prefer CBA to PBA, and hence, intend to undertake CBA frequently or in the future. Also, the results of this study showed that the use of CBA often improves students’ assessment performances and results. Furthermore, the results showed that, although students indicated that it is easy to undertake CBA, they still experience challenges. The challenges experienced by students in the use of CBA, and the possible means of managing these challenges, have been presented in this study.


Master of Commerce in Information Systems and Technology. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, 2018.