Automatically assessing diagrams

Thomas, Pete; Smith, Neil and Waugh, Kevin (2009). Automatically assessing diagrams. In: IADIS International Conference e-Learning, 17-20 Jun 2009, Algarve, Portugal.



Diagrams are ubiquitous; they are used to communicate ideas and are often used to model aspects of the real world. We teach with them and expect students to develop modelling skills using them. In conventional, paper-based assessment, we do not think twice about asking students to draw free-hand diagrams to express both their knowledge and drawing skills. In e-Assessment, the situation is very different. There is very little support for assessing diagramming skills and where students can draw free-form diagrams (with a drawing tool) the assessment has to be human. In this paper we discuss an approach to the automatic marking of a certain class of diagrams (almost graph-based) illustrating how we have incorporated domain knowledge, pedagogy and marking schemes into the process. In particular, the paper examines the general strategy for automatic marking based on meaningful units and how marking schemes are constructed. The paper concludes with the results of applying our method to a corpus of student diagrams and illustrates how the consistency afforded by automatic marking can overcome some of the deficiencies in human marking.

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