Does the Sun orbit the Earth? Challenges in using short free-text computer-marked questions

Jordan, Sally and Butcher, Philip (2013). Does the Sun orbit the Earth? Challenges in using short free-text computer-marked questions. In: HEA STEM Annual Learning and Teaching Conference 2013: Where Practice and Pedagogy Meet, 17-18 Apr 2013, Birmingham, UK.

URL: http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/events/detail/2012/17_1...

Abstract

The automatic marking of short-answer free-text questions presents an opportunity to assess and provide personalised feedback to large classes, with savings of cost and better consistency than human markers, and a more authentic assessment experience for students than is obtained from the use of multiple-choice questions alone. Short-answer free-text e-assessment questions have been in regular use at the Open University Science Faculty since 2006. A high marking accuracy has been retained following a move to pattern-based answer matching, and student engagement is good. A similar question type has been added to the Moodle quiz engine. However, questions of this type are underused by academics. This paper discusses some reasons for this, including the need for a large number of marked student responses for use in developing the answer matching.

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