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A partially-automated approach to assessment of individual work alongside a group project in mathematics

Higher Education Academy STEM Annual Learning and Teaching Conference 2013, University of Birmingham (17/04/2013).

A review of literature and a survey of the views of mathematics lecturers leads to an evaluation of the possible advantages which may accessed by different assessment methods and their consequent disadvantages. Traditional paper assessment (set and marked by hand) is relatively straightforward to set and offers access to the whole syllabus and the possibility of open-ended questions to probe deep learning. However, it is usually impractical to provide randomisation of questions and marking and feedback are relatively slow. E-assessment offers quick marking and feedback, randomisation and takes little staff time to mark, but can require specialist skills to set and may be limited in the range of the curriculum that can be assessed and the extent to which deep learning can be tested. Other methods, such as CAS-driven e-assessment, question bank-based e-assessment or project work access different permutations of these advantages and disadvantages.

A novel approach is indicated, in which a computer is used to set an assessment which is taken on paper by students and marked by hand. This approach may access an unusual set of advantages: individualised work can be set to attempt to avoid plagiarism but without the limitations of computer marking.

This approach is used during a professional skills group work module in which individual assignments are used alongside the group activity to assess individual contribution. Giving individual work to each member of a group which is completing an assignment on the same topic strongly indicates individualised assessment, but the learning outcomes for the module suit open-ended questions. This is trialled and evaluated.