The whys and hows of 24 hour e-assessed courseworks


The Boiler House

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Since I retire next week, this talk is a reflection on what e-assessment has worked for me. Why did I start using it, why did I keep using it continuously for 27 years? It is about how it has evolved and why it has helped students to learn mathematics..

My early trials of e-assessment began back in 1991 on a local network. Technical advances since then have widened and improved its delivery enormously. For the past 10 years MapleTA has been adopted at Portsmouth and a huge range of question banks have been developed. Some recent topics include dimensional analysis, fractals, linear programming, Fourier series, oscillatory motion, series solution of ODEs, Laplace transforms and basic solution methods for PDEs. A key element in providing students with feedback on weekly practice tests is the “How Did I Do?” option, which allows them to check their answers as they tackle extended problems. The same question is equally relevant when evaluating the effectiveness of e-assessment for many thousands of students over several decades.

Students have particularly benefited from, and given positive feedback on, regular 24-hour courseworks, which randomised e-assessments permit. I will explain why students like them and how they have contributed to their learning of two mathematics units, Intermediate Calculus and Mathematical Models. Then it will be time to pass on the baton!