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Benefits of computer aided assessment

Computer aided assessment can offer many benefits:

  • Computer aided assessment facilitates a detailed analysis of test results with minimal effort. This can be used to identify areas within the course where the students have difficulty, thus alerting staff to the possible need to adapt their teaching. Or perhaps it could be used to identify trends and patterns within the student group. Questions which are not successful at discriminating between students can readily be identified and improved for future years.
  • Used diagnostically, computer aided assessment can be used to identify students who would benefit from extra direction or support. If desired, repeat tests can be taken in private to allow the student to monitor their own progress and achievement.
  • Objective tests are marked automatically, so although time must be invested in constructing the test, there is little or no time spent in marking. Students can therefore be given their results either immediately upon completion or after a very short period.
  • Depending on the assessment system used, some questions can be constructed using randomised variables, so each student gets a similar, but not an absolutely identical problem. This can also be useful if students are using an assessment formatively where they can practice repeatedly, but the detail of the variables used in the questions change each time.
  • Most systems allow you to provide feedback on question results, for incorrect and correct answers. For formative assessments, students find instant feedback on where they have gone wrong, and suggestions for where to look for further information, extremely helpful.
  • In some situations it may be appropriate to allow students to elect to take assessments at a time when they feel they are ready, so that students who find a topic more straightforward can take the test early, get their result, and then proceed to other tasks, while students who need more practice can work at their own pace and perhaps try several dry runs before they take the 'real' test.
  • Computer Aided Assessment is not just about objective testing. There are packages available to support the assessment of modified essay questions, and to help students identify the likely grade to be awarded to their dissertation.