This paper reports the preliminary results of a project that investigated the use of computer-based simulation to improve the validity of assessment and provide unlimited formative assessment without use of lecturer time. Specifically it aimed to develop a computer-based simulator for computer networking, pilot its use on students, and develop expertise in the use of simulation as an assessment tool applicable to other parts of the University. To meet the third aim, the paper starts with an extended introduction of simulator-based assessment and computer-based simulation. It then discusses the term “Virtual Assessment Environment”. It introduces the simulator that has been developed, and discusses some of the issues that were faced during implementation. Finally, it presents a qualitative evaluation of students’ views of how this could be used in the course. The conclusion is that students recognise many benefits of the simulator for formative assessment, but raise concerns regarding its summative use
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