Improving Computer-marked Assessments: Inspire UCEM Workshop #InspireUCEM

I was really lucky to be able to get Prof. Sally Jordan to come over to UCEM to talk to us about her wealth of experience in online assessments as part of the Inspire Series of events organised by the Online Learning Research Centre that I chair.

Sally is currently Head of the Open University’s School of Physical Sciences and she is also the the first academic at the Open University to use online interactive computer-marked assessment in her teaching, nearly 20 years ago!

Sally was over at Horizons with us on the 18th of October and talked to us on the topic: Improving the quality of computer-marked assessment and computer-generated feedback. The room was at capacity with two remote participants joining via Skype for Business. We also had a participant from the Royal Agricultural University (RAU) attending the event on invitation.  UCEM is partnering with RAU on a HEFCE Catalyst Fund project and it is great to be able to offer opportunities such as these to our friends there.

The talk was followed by a short workshop where we all looked at assignment design and worked on a question about writing answer matching for a short-answer free text question. We looked at a simple question:

A boy climbs slowly to the top of a slide and then slides down it. At which point will his kinetic energy be a maximum. Note: Your answer should ignore the effects of friction.

Though the question and the answer seemed simple enough, there were various ways students had expressed the answer. So we looked at a set of student answers both right and wrong ones to explore how best to write an answer matching for this question.

For me, the take home message from the event was, despite the claims that computer-marked assessment saves time, initially in the setting up stage they take far more time to set up properly.  But in the long run you are likely to be able to save time as you would be able to re-use the questions and/or gain more proficiency in writing answer matching making you more efficient.

After the session, Fiona interviewed Sally to capture the essence of the session in a few minutes which you can see below.

Transcript of the conversation is also available.