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Subject

E-marking and e-exams

Purpose

The Authority.

Decision

The Authority noted the report.

Background

The Risk Reduction Project, approved by the Authority in April 2010, to reduce risks to quality and sustainability includes the increased use of computers and the internet in the delivery and marking of candidate work.

In 2011, particular developments were the following:
  1. Half of the BHS315110 Sociology Investigation projects (220) were scanned by the office and then marked by markers, over the internet, using TQA developed software on iPads.
  2. The ITS315108 Information Systems & Technology written examination was delivered at ten exam centres using the 'e-exam' system developed at the University of Tasmania.
  3. The ITS315108 Information Systems & Technology written examination answers (80 students, each with answers to 2 sections) were marked over the internet using the TQA iPad software

Feedback from the markers involved was very positive and supportive of expanding the scope of activities in 2012.

Current Situation

We have developed, initially for use in the ACACA comparability project in early 2012, a 'paired comparison tool' which uses web browsers to display a pair of documents, requiring judges to choose the 'best'. This tool will be modified for use with marking local candidate folios and other extended work. Our current experience with this tool in the context of users working in a variety of settings our capacity to handle the challenges of this type of approach to e-marking.

In 2012 candidates in BHS315110 Sociology and ARA315111 Art Appreciation will be submitting their folio-based work in PDF format. Both subjects will be marked using a mixture of iPad and web-browser software. Candidates in HDS315108 Housing & Design will have the option of submitting their folio in PDF form and these will be marked using iPads. It is intended that all candidates will submit in this format in 2013. In addition to extending the range of subjects and the number markers involved the office will be developing the processes necessary to accurately collect and manage electronic files.

The 'e-exam' system will be used to deliver the ITS315108 Information Systems & Technology written examination and the student work will again be marked using the iPad software. The accreditation for this subject expires at the end of 2012. Future plans are dependent on accreditation decisions.

Issues

  1. As noted in previous Authority discussions, productivity improvements in assessment cannot be found by speeding up the time a marker spends reading a student's work. Such improvements can be found in
    • getting the student work to the marker
    • marker monitoring
    • improved support for marker decision-making through item design and marking criteria.

  2. Reductions in validity, whether through having students do less assessment or through direct reductions in item validity, can reduce costs but at the expense of quality and sustainability.

  3. E-marking is at this stage a greater priority in our developments than e-exams:
    • there is no point in collecting student responses in electronic form if they must be printed out for markers
    • e-marking will facilitate improvements in monitoring the quality of marking.

  4. Current e-exam approaches are essentially electronic presentations of conventional 'pencil-and-paper' examinations. There would be potentially great educational value in using this form of technology to deliver different forms of assessment.

  5. There are security and connectivity issues associated with the use of the web-browser marking option, for example, ensuring that markers do not retain copies of student work.

  6. Web-based marking is in principle device independent providing that the marker is using an appropriate browser. In practice, there can be institutional policies and practices limiting the versions of software operating on markers' computers.

  7. Use of iPads gives the office complete control over the technical environment being used by markers however there are costs associated with the provision and accountability for the hardware.
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