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Denise Whitelock

Denise Whitelock


Senior Lecturer in Educational Technology
Institute of Educational Technology
The Open University
Walton Hall
Milton Keynes MK7 6AA
Tel: 01908 653777

Denise Whitelock is a Senior Lecturer in Information Technology specialised in building feedback models for e-assessment systems.  Her e-assessment research has been funded by a number of external bodies.  The most influential in informing policy was the e-Assessment Roadmap which stressed the need for automated text recognition systems and which assisted the JISC with the planning of their e-assessment strand.


Denise Whitelock directed the Computer Assisted Formative Assessment Project (CAFA) at The Open University, and has investigated the use of feedback with electronic assessment systems with a large number of course teams. She has built on this expertise to construct an electronic feedback system known as eMentor which won an Open University Teaching Award. This system provides tutors with feedback on the comments they have made on their students’ assignments and coursework.  It has now been transformed into OpenMentor and the JISC are funding the transfer of this technology to Southampton University and Kings College London.

She has recently been awarded an EPSRC grant to provide an effective automated interactive feedback system that yields an acceptable level of support for university students writing essays in a distance or e-learning context

She has also developed Open Comment which is an open source Moodle extension which permits History students to use free text entry for their answers to a suite of electronic assessments. She has just completed her term of office as co-convenor of the Educational Dialogue Research Unit which forms part of the Language & Linguistics Research Cluster, and now leads the Educational Technology Assessment projects in IET.

She is a regular programme committee member of Computer Assisted Assessment (which she has chaired since 2010) and the Computer Based Learning in Science Conference. She is a member of the editorial board for British Journal of Educational Technology and the International Journal of e-Assessment.

She holds a visiting Chair at the Autonoma University, Barcelona, and the British University in Dubai, an Honorary Research Fellowship at The Open Polytechnic of New Zealand. She was the Joint coordinator for the Assessment Sig (2005-2009) for the European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction (EARLI) and was elected to serve for another 3 years as a member of the governing council of the Society for Research into Higher Education. 


BSc Special Hons – upper second class in Physiology, Sheffield University

Post Graduate Certificate in Education, University of Exeter, College of St. Mark & St John, Plymouth. Merit.

MEd in Science Education, University of London, Centre of Science and Mathematics Education, Chelsea College. Distinction.
PhD in Science Education, University of London, Institute of Education.

Research Interests

All the strands of my research can be located within the Educational Dialogue arena. I have been investigating how students’ learning is mediated by computers and how educational dialogues can be facilitated through the use of:

  • Electronic Assessment/Interactive Learning Environments
  • Computer Supported Collaborative Learning systems
  • Interactive Multimedia applications

Research awards have been granted in all these areas.

Recent External Funding

2012-2014        Supportive Automated Feedback for Short Essay Answers (SAFeSEA). Funder: EPSRC 


2011-2012        OMtetra (OpenMentor Technology Transfer). Funder: JISC   


2011                HEA Benchmarking Feedback


2009-2010       SRAFTE (Synthesis Report on Assessment and Feedback with Technology-Enhancement)

                        Funder: HEA


2009-2010         ROADMAP for Technology Enhanced Activities for teaching science to children with chronic illness

                        Funder: Generalitat de Catalunya, Departament d’Innovació,


2009-2010         TEACH (Technology enhanced activities for learning science for children in Hospital)

                        Funder: Consell Social de la Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona  and from the Spanish Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia


2008-2009       REAQ (Review of e-Assessment Quality) Project

Funder: JISC


2007-2009       Nefreduca Project

                        Funder: Spanish Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia


2005-2006       e-Assessment Roadmap

Funder: JISC


Recent Invited Lectures

August 2012    Invited Post-Conference Workshop entitled “Optimising feedback for student motivation and engagement”. e-Assessments in Tertiary Education Conference, Melbourne, Australia



May 2012        Invited Workshop entitled ‘Implementing a Model of Feedback with OpenMentor: Are we on the way to ‘Advice for Action’. International Conference Observation and Feedback: Research and Practice, British University in Dubai (BUiD)


May 2012        Keynote address entitled ‘Modeling Feedback: Finding a balance between socio-emotive and cognitive support’. International Conference Observation and Feedback: Research and Practice. British University in Dubai (BUiD)


Feb 2012         Invited Workshop for academic staff entitled ‘E-Assessment and feedback: moving forward with formative assessment’. British University in Dubai (BUiD)


Sept 2011       Invited lecture entitled ‘Modelling Feedback with Open Mentor: supporting tutors with their feedback to students’. Imperial Assessment Workshop


July 2011        Invited presentation entitled ‘Benchmarking and Feedback: Assessment for Teaching and Learning Audit’.  HEA, York

March 2011     Keynote address entitled e-Assessment for Learning: balancing challenges and opportunities’. TAO Days Conference 2011, Luxembourg

Feb 2011         Keynote address to the Special Interest Group on ‘New Trends in Teachers Education’ entitled ‘Formal and informal interactive learning with Web 2.0 tools: two sides of the same coin?’  4th eLearning Excellence in the Middle-East Conference, Dubai

Dec 2010        Invited presentation entitled ‘Assessment and Feedback with Technology Enhancement: Highlights from the Synthesis Report’. Sharing Technology Enhanced Employability Learning, Rose Bowl, Leeds Metropolitan University, Leeds

Dec 2010        Invited Webcast entitled Providing effective electronic feedback to students’. Transforming Assessment Webinar Series hosted by Centre for Learning and Professional Development, The University of Adelaide, Australia

Nov 2010        Invited lecture sponsored by the British Council. Computer Based learning in Science: What are the influences of Web 2.0 Technologies?’ British University in Dubai (BuiD)

July 2010        Keynote address entitled ’Where are we going with Computer Based Learning in Science’. 9th International Conference on Computer Based Learning in Science, CBLIS2010, Warsaw, Poland


March 2010     Invited lecture entitled ‘Activating assessment: are we on the way with Web 2.0?’ Autonoma University, Barcelona




Chapters in books


            Pinto, R., Whitelock, D., & Gutierrez, R. (2011). ’Towards a Roadmap for implementing a Socio-constructivist learning framework for chronically ill children to learn with their classmates while still in hospital.  In A. Méndez-Vilas (Ed.). Education in a Technological World: Communicating Current and Emerging Research and Technological Efforts. Formatex Research Center. pp 563-571. ISBN (13): 978-84-939843-3-5


            Whitelock, D. (2011) ‘Activating Assessment for Learning: are we on the way with Web 2.0?’ In M.J.W. Lee & C. McLoughlin (Eds.) Web 2.0-Based-E-Learning: Applying Social Informatics for Tertiary Teaching. IGI Global. pp 319–342.


            Hench, T. & Whitelock, D. (2010) ‘Towards A Model for Evaluating Student Learning via eAssessment’.  In Z.C. Zaharia, C.P. Constantinou & M. Papaevripidou (Eds.) Computer Based Learning in Science, Conference Proceedings 2010, OEIiZK. Pp 15-21 ISBN 978-9963-689-85-9


            Whitelock, D., Pintó, R. & Saez, M. (2010) ‘Supporting Science Studies for Children with long term health problems using Nefreduca’. In Z.C. Zaharia, C.P. Constantinou & M. Papaevripidou (Eds.) Computer Based Learning in Science, Conference Proceedings 2010, OEIiZK.  Pp 239-249. ISBN 978-9963-689-85-9


            Whitelock, D. (2008) ‘Accelerating the assessment agenda: thinking outside the black box’. In Scheuermann, F. & Pereira, A.G. (eds.) Towards a Research Agenda on Computer-Based Assessment: Challenges and Needs for European Educational Measurement, published by the European Commission, Joint Research Centre pp 15-21 ISSN. 1018-5593


            Whitelock, D. & Rae, S. (2006) ‘Interactive Assessment or Interactive Learning: what’s the difference?’ (ed) Rust, C. Improving Student learning Through Assessment. The Oxford Brookes Centre for staff and learning Development pp 183-194. ISBN 1 873576 730


            Wilson, T. and Whitelock, D.  (2000)  ‘Factors Affecting Active Participation in a CMC Created for Distance Learners.’ In Orange, G. and Hobbs, D. (eds). International Perspectives on Tele-Education and Virtual Learning Environments, Ashgate Publishing Limited,  pp 156-170. ISBN 0-7546-1202-3


            Whitelock, D. (1998) ‘Matching Measure for Measure?  A route through the Formative Testing of Multimedia Science Software.’ Paper presented at the Evaluation Learning Technologies Conference (ELT’98), London, November 1998. in Oliver, M. (ed) Innovation in the Evaluation of Learning Technology pp 180-192.  ISBN1-85377-256-9.



Journal publications 


            Whitelock, D. & Cross, S. (2012). ‘Authentic Assessment: What does it mean and how is it instantiated by a group of distance learning academics?’ International Journal of e-Assessment (IJEA). Vol 2(1).  ISSN: 2045-9432


            Kucirkova, N., Messer, D.J. & Whitelock, D. (2012). ‘Parents reading with their toddlers: the role of personalisation in book engagement’.  Journal of Early Childhood Literacy. DOI: 10.1177/1468798412438068


            Whitelock, D. & Cross, S. (2011). ‘Assessment Benchmarking: Accumulating and accelerating institutional know-how for best practice’.  International Journal of e-Assessment (IJEA), 1(1).


            Kucirkova, N., Messer, D. & Whitelock, D. (2010). ‘Sharing personalised books: a practical solution to the challenges posed by home book reading interventions’. Literacy Information & Computer Education Journal (LICEJ), 1(3), pp 263-272. ISSN 2040-2589


            Whitelock, D., Pinto. R. & Saez, M. (2010) ‘Modelling the teachers’ feedback process for the design of an electronic interactive science tool with automatic feedback’. In P. Brna & D. Whitelock (Eds).  Special Issue of International Journal of Continuing Engineering Education and Life-long Learning, Focussing on Electronic Feedback: feasible progress or just unfulfilled promises? 20(2), pp 189-207.


.           Ferguson, R., Whitelock, D., & Littleton, K. (2010). ‘Improvable objects and attached dialogue: new literacy practices employed by learners to build knowledge together in asynchronous settings’. Digital Culture and Education, 2(1), pp 116-136.


            Twiner, A., Coffin, C., Littleton, K. & Whitelock, D. (2010) ‘Multimodality, orchestration and participation in the context of classroom use of the interactive whiteboard: A discussion’.  In Warwick, P. and Hennessy, S. (eds) Special Edition Technology, Pedagogy & Education. 19(2), pp 211-223


            Whitelock, D. (2009) ‘e-Assessment: Developing new dialogues for the digital age’.  British Journal of Educational Technology. Vol. 40, No. 2. pp 199-202


            Whitelock, D. & Watt, S. (2008) ‘Reframing e-assessment: adopting new media and adapting old Frameworks’.  Learning, Media and Technology, Vol. 33, No. 3, September 2008 pp 153–156 Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group. ISSN 1743-9884




Workspace created on 31 January 2005
Last updated on 23 October 2012