Resource Database: Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences

Title Computer-Aided Assessment
Originator Rodney Pearson, Irene Brightmer and Franc Jegede
Department Division of Geography, University of Derby, DE22 1GB
Tel. +44 (0)1332 622222
Fax. +44 (0)1332 622747

Computer-aided assessment has been developed by the University of Derby Interactive Assessment Delivery System (DIADS) using the Authorware Professional Package. It can be used to generate assessment packages for both coursework and examinations, and is currently used in three geography modules at Derby. These are Geographical Techniques (Stage 1), Data Handling Techniques in Human Geography (Stage 2) and Health and Disease in the Developing World (Stage 2). The assessment system addresses the problems posed by large numbers of students in single semester modules, notably the need for variety and choice in assessment, consistency of treatment across the student group, rapid feedback and analysis of results.

The package is designed for use by tutors, entering their own material on customised templates which can be readily updated. A variety of question types is used, including multiple-choice, assertion-reason, text-input, plot point, move object and others. They are available in various combinations and with random sequencing. Presentation is enhanced by visual images and graphics, which may be imported stock or custom-drawn. Maps, photographs and slides can be scanned into the package, while video sequences can be included (but note copyright problems). Questions are weighted according to the degree of skill or understanding needed. Margins of error are allowable and sanctions against guessing can be included. The exercise can be timed, with extra allowance for registered dyslexic students. Results can be displayed on screen for immediate feedback or can remain confidential to the tutor. A hard copy of results can include response rates for individual questions and analysis of group performance.

Considerable time is needed for initial preparation, especially in the phrasing of instructions to remove ambiguity. Self-programming with prepared templates will require access to an adequate PC, preferably one with a Pentium processor, but a 486 PC with at least 8 megabytes memory will be sufficient. The administration of the exercise will require access to a suitable computer laboratory, and the test must be taken off-line immediately to protect its integrity. However, once established, the anticipated advantages are apparent. Additionally it may stimulate a review by the tutor of the content and style of the module. The material can be linked to the Internet, thereby affording inter-institutional links. Experience indicates a favourable response from both students and tutors.

Relevant Reference:


Large student numbers
Weighted questions

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Page created 3 February 1997
Database pages maintained by Phil Gravestock