February 10, 2006

CAA Twenty Years On

Writing about web page http://mathstore.ac.uk/articles/maths-caa-series/jan2006/

Cliff Beevers' article IT was twenty years ago today covers two decades of work on computer-aided assessment for mathematical disciplines at Heriot-Watt University. The challenges of testing mathematics online are presented as an intelligent and ever-changing compromise between effective pedagogy and the technical limitations of the medium.

The CAA package they have created since 1985 is currently offering formative testing to 25,000 students in Scottish schools. As a registered blind teacher, Cliff is well placed to address the accessibility issues; the Heriot-Watt development team took the mathematical tests to youngsters at the Royal Blind School in Edinburgh last year.

He ends with the following advice:

  • Keep the questions fresh through randomisation

  • Seek answers using mathematical expressions wherever possible

  • Provide optional steps for those that need them

  • Report all of this to both student and the teacher alike

  • Keep all of these new assessments accessible so that disabled students are not disadvantaged

  • Extend where possible to include animations, simulations and explorations so that higher order skills can also be tested electronically

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