The Open UniversitySkip to content

Same but different, but is it fair? An analysis of the use of variants of interactive computer-marked questions

Jordan, Sally; Jordan, Helen and Jordan, Richard (2012). Same but different, but is it fair? An analysis of the use of variants of interactive computer-marked questions. International Journal of e-Assessment, 2(1)

Full text available as:
PDF (Version of Record) - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader
Download (227Kb)
Google Scholar: Look up in Google Scholar


Different variants of interactive computer-marked questions are used to reduce opportunities for plagiarism, and tools have been developed to indicate when variants are of significantly different difficulty. The tools include the facility index for each variant, a plot of the different scoring patterns for the variants and a probability that any difference could have occurred by chance The paper includes an example of the tools in use and identifies factors that have been found to lead to variants of different difficulty. An investigation into the impact on students’ overall scores is then described, with the conclusion that, for most modules, the effect is very small (typically ±0.5%). Factors leading to a larger effect include: a larger number of individual questions with significantly different variant difficulty; a smaller number of interactive computer-marked questions; and a higher weighting of the e-assessment component. Monitoring the behaviour of variants can lead to improvements in the quality of individual questions, better assessment design and enhanced insight into students’ misunderstandings.

Item Type: Journal Article
Copyright Holders: 2012 International Journal of eAssessment
ISSN: 2045-9432
Keywords: interactive computer-marked questions; variants; question difficulty.
Academic Unit/Department: Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) > Physical Sciences
Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)
Interdisciplinary Research Centre: eSTEeM
Related URLs:
Item ID: 33705
Depositing User: Sally Jordan
Date Deposited: 21 May 2012 09:53
Last Modified: 06 Oct 2016 10:57
Share this page:

Download history for this item

These details should be considered as only a guide to the number of downloads performed manually. Algorithmic methods have been applied in an attempt to remove automated downloads from the displayed statistics but no guarantee can be made as to the accuracy of the figures.

▼ Automated document suggestions from open access sources

Actions (login may be required)

Policies | Disclaimer

© The Open University   + 44 (0)870 333 4340