Online interactive assessment with short free-text questions and tailored feedback

Jordan, Sally (2008). Online interactive assessment with short free-text questions and tailored feedback. New Directions, 4 pp. 17–20.




A linguistically based authoring tool has been used to write e-assessment questions requiring short free-text answers of up to about 20 words in length (typically a single sentence). The answer matching is sophisticated and students are provided with instantaneous targeted feedback on incorrect and incomplete responses. They are able to use this feedback in reattempting the question. Seventy-five questions of this type have been offered to students on an entry-level interdisciplinary science module and they have been well received. 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. The answer matching has been demonstrated to be of similar or greater accuracy than specialist human markers.

The software described is all either open source or commercially available, but the purpose of this paper is not to advertise these products but rather to encourage reflection on e-assessment's potential to support student learning.

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