Skip to main content
  • Dossier “Mathematical e-learning”
  • Article
  • Open access
  • Published:

The Role of Digital, Formative Testing in e-Learning for Mathematics: A Case Study in the Netherlands

El papel de los exámenes formativos digitales en el aprendizaje virtual de matemáticas: un estudio de caso en los Países Bajos


Repeated formative, diagnostic assessment lies at the heart of student-centred learning, providing students with a continuous stream of information on the mastery of different topics and making suggestions to optimize the choice of subsequent learning activities. When integrated into a system of e-learning, formative assessment can make that steering information instantaneous, which is a crucial aspect for feedback in student-centred learning. This empirical study of the role of formative assessment in mathematics e-learning focuses on the important merit of integrating these assessments into a system of state or national testing. Such tests provide individual students with crucial feedback for their personal learning, teachers with information for instructional planning, and curriculum designers with information on the strengths and weaknesses in the mastery states of students in the program and the need to accommodate any shortcomings. Lastly, they provide information on the quality of education at state or national level and a means to monitor its development over time. We shall provide examples of these merits based on data from the national project ONBETWIST, part of the Dutch e-learning program Testing and Test-Driven Learning.


La repetida evaluación diagnóstica y formativa es uno de los elementos clave del aprendizaje centrado en el alumno, ya que ofrece a los estudiantes un flujo continuo de información sobre su nivel de conocimientos en distintas materias y permite optimizar la posterior elección de actividades de aprendizaje. Cuando se integra en un sistema de aprendizaje virtual, la evaluación formativa puede convertir esta información en instantánea, lo que constituye un aspecto crucial para el retorno de información en un aprendizaje centrado en el alumno. Este estudio empiríco sobre el papel de la evaluación formativa en el aprendizaje virtual de matemáticas se centra en la ventaja de integrar estas evaluaciones en un sistema national o estatal de exámenes. Estos exámenes proporcionan a los estudiantes una información crucial para su aprendizaje personal; suministran a los profesores los datos necesarios para llevar a cabo la planificación docente; y ofrecen a los encargados de elaborar los planes de estudio la información necesaria sobre las fortalezas y las debilidades de los estudiantes de cada programa y la necesidad de solucionar cualquier deficiencia. En último lugar, ofrecen información sobre la calidad de la enseñanza a escala national o estatal y son un medio para controlar su desarrollo a través del tiempo. Daremos ejemplos de todas estas ventajas según los datos del proyecto nacional ONBETWIST, que forma parte del programa de aprendizaje virtual holandés «Los exámenes y el aprendizaje basado en exámenes».


  • BEATTY, A. (Rapporteur) (2010). Best Practices for State Assessment Systems Part I: Summary of a Workshop. Washington, D. C.: National Academy Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • BRANTS, L.; STRUYVEN, K. (2009). “Literature review on online remedial education: A European perspective”. Industry and Higher Education. Vol. 23, No 4, 269–276.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • DOIGNON, J. P.; FALMAGNE J. C. (1999). Knowledge spaces. Berlin: Springer.

    Book  MATH  Google Scholar 

  • DONOVAN, M. S.; BRANSFORD, J. D. (eds) (2005). How Students Learn: Mathematics in the Classroom. Washington, D. C.: National Academy Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • FALMANGE, J.; COSYN, E.; DOIGNON, J.; THIÉRY, N. (2004). The assessment of knowledge, in theory and in practice. [Accessed: 1 December 2010]. <>

  • HATTIE, J. (2008). Visible Learning. A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. London: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • JUAN, A. [et al.]. (2011). “Teaching Mathematics Online in the European Area of Higher Education: An instructors’ point of view” International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology. Vol. 42, No 2, pages 141–153.

    Article  MathSciNet  Google Scholar 

  • PELLEGRINO, W.; CHUDOWSKY, N.; GLASER, R. (eds) (2001). Knowing What Students Know: The Science and Design of Educational Assessment. Washington, D. C.: National Academy Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • RIENTIES, B. [et al.] (2011). “Describing the current transitional educational practices in Europe” [submitted article]. Interactive Learning Environments.

  • TAYLOR, J. A. (2008). “Assessment in First year university: A model to manage transition”. Journal of University Teaching & Learning Practice. Vol. 5, No 1.

  • TEMPELAAR, D. T.; RIENTIES, B. (2008). “Remediating summer classes and diagnostic entry assessment in mathematics to ease the transition from high school to university” In: Proceedings of Student Mobility and ICT: Can E-LEARNING overcome barriers of Life-Long Learning. Maastricht: FEBA ERD Press. Pages 9–17.

    Google Scholar 

  • TEMPELAAR, D. T. [et al.] (2006). “An online summer course for prospective international students to remediate deficiencies in math prior knowledge: The case of ALEKS” In M. Seppällä; O. Xambo; O. Caprotti (eds). Proceedings of WebALT2006. Technical University of Eindhoven: Oy WebALT Inc. Pages 23–36. <>

  • TEMPELAAR, D. T. [et al.] (2011). “Mathematics bridging education using an online, adaptive e-tutorial: preparing international students for higher education”. In: A. A. Juan; M. A. Huertas; S. Trenholm; C. Steegmann (eds). Teaching Mathematics Online: Emergent Technologies and Methodologies. IGI Global.

  • TRENHOLM, S. [et al.] (2011). “Long-Term Experiences in Mathematics E-Learning in Europe and the USA”. In: A. A. Juan; M. A. Huertas; S. Trenholm; C. Steegmann (eds), Teaching Mathematics Online: Emergent Technologies and Methodologies. Hershey, PA: IGI Global. Pages 236–257.

    Google Scholar 

  • WANG, K. H.; WANG, T. H.; WANG, W. L.; HUANG, S. C. (2006). “Learning styles and formative assessment strategy: enhancing student achievement in Web-based learning”. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning. Vol. 22, No 3, pages 207–217.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Dirk T. Tempelaar.

Rights and permissions

Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits use, duplication, adaptation, distribution, and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Tempelaar, D.T., Kuperus, B., Cuypers, H. et al. The Role of Digital, Formative Testing in e-Learning for Mathematics: A Case Study in the Netherlands. Revista de Universidad y Sociedad del Conocimiento 9, 284–305 (2012).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


Palabras clave