Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Automation and Feedback


Week 22 activity 3

For this activity we were given, 'The Use of Interactive on-line Formative Quizzes in Mathematics' (Erkins, 2007) to read. I feel that this paper illustrates, that within this context and for this subject domain, online formative quizzes have their place. 

The advantages here seem to be:
  • Enables preparation for this course
  • Instant feedback, which can be responded to immediately
  • Tailored feedback, which is delivered after each attempt. Hint option provides extra help.
  • A feedback page is provided and there is an opportunity to retake the quiz in a slightly altered form
  • Prepares students for the summative assessment
  • Further study advice is given on completion of the quiz
  • Perceived as enjoyable by the learners
  • Stimulates learning. Motivates them to follow links.
  • Is used in conjunction with other assessment methods, such as TMAs, whereby here, more comprehensive feedback is given
  • Design of questions (broad range, several variants, random selection), enables more skills to be assessed
  • Analysis of administrator reports enable fine tuning of questions for improvement
  • Flexibility. Quizzes can be used during the course and for exam revision. Hence, learners can pace and self-regulate their studies to a certain degree.

Some of the disadvantages:
  • Feedback is not considered specific enough in some cases
  • Authoring is complex and timely
  • Needs more research into ‘how different types of question and feedback stimulate learning’, (Erkins, 2007).
  • Feedback is solely textual
Possible improvements from my perspective: 
  1. Forced time delay when repeating the quiz to enable students to reflect on their errors and feedback. This may aid their learning rather than repeating the task while the questions are still fresh in their short term memory.
  2. Feedback should remain on screen when the student has further attempts at the question. In this manner they can use it to feed forward.  
  3. When students make a mistake, rather than giving them another attempt at the same question, a slightly altered question should be given in an attempt to isolate their weakness in a more precise manner. This may help the software provide more specific feedback.
  4. Addition of a dashboard for tutors which enables them to see where the weaknesses are in order to take action, such as, modification of material (probably not realistic in this case), provision of extra multimedia resources to help understanding, a synchronous tutorial, or encouraging students to discuss their problems.
  • In my context ( English language teaching), quizzes for formative and summative assessment are also used.They are mainly designed as multiple choice, gap filling exercises and key word transformations. Multimedia is used and reading, writing and listening skills can be assessed. Where grammar, formulaic writing and not overly complex syntax is used, these quizzes are helpful for both the learner and teacher in conjunction with other methods of assessment. However, where complex syntax, creative ideas and mixed genres are used within essay writing, then it becomes more difficult to rely on software. It is in use in the area of language learning and the testing of foreign language skills for university entry or job applications, but more research needs to be done into this field. Criterion e-rater and MY Access seem to be quite popular. Students are able to self-assess using this software.Additionally, teachers have the possibility to access the feedback given to students and after identifying which specific areas need improving, can respond accordingly in order to promote learning.


    Ekins, J. (2007) ‘The use of interactive on-line formative quizzes in Mathematics’ [online], paper presented at the 11th International Computer Assisted Assessment Conference, 10–11 July 2007, pp.163-75; (accessed 10 July 2013).

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