e-Assessment for learning? The potential of short-answer free-text questions with tailored feedback

Jordan, Sally and Mitchell, Tom (2009). e-Assessment for learning? The potential of short-answer free-text questions with tailored feedback. British Journal of Educational Technology, 40(2) pp. 371–385.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8535.2008.00928.x

Abstract

A natural language based system has been used to author and mark short-answer free-text assessment tasks. Students attempt the questions online and are given tailored and relatively detailed feedback on incorrect and incomplete responses, and have the opportunity to repeat the task immediately so as to learn from the feedback provided. The answer matching has been developed in the light of student responses to the questions. A small number of the questions are now in low-stakes summative use, alongside other e-assessment tasks and tutor-marked assignments, to give students instantaneous feedback on constructed response items, to help them to monitor their progress and to encourage dialogue with their tutor. The answer matching has been demonstrated to be of similar or greater accuracy than specialist human markers. Students have been observed attempting the questions and have been seen to respond in differing ways to both the questions themselves and the feedback provided. We discuss features of appropriate items for assessment of this type.

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