Learning Through Assessment

Joe Angseesing


Learning and assessment are inextricably linked and this author has, for a number of years, routinely used computer aided assessment (Angseesing 1989, 1998) with assessment as the main objective. This was initially done to facilitate examination marking with moderately large classes, but in the last few years has been used for some coursework as well as for examinations.
There are several good reasons for using computer aided marking for coursework, where appropriate:

• it ensures consistency of grading;
• it allows rapid turn round of the assessment so that students have feedback before thenext installment of coursework, or before a terminal examination;
• the assessment procedure can be used to force the students to formulate precise answers and to step logically through correct procedures, whereas they may otherwise construct vague conclusions or terminate an exercise with a calculation lacking any context or conclusion; and
• it is easy to obtain a quantitative analysis of where students are going wrong.

Whereas the first two points were the stimulus for introducing computer aided assessment methods in the first place, the last two points have grown to be at least equally important. It is very tedious and perhaps impossible in the time available for a tutor to write a correctly formulated set of hypotheses and conclusions on every script, but easy to program marking software to flag an error of a particular type or to print out a specific comment in response to a specific error. Even more important is the way that computer based questions can teach students to steer a way through technical language, as in the examples introduced below.

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