Reflections on using Maple T.A. for summative assessment
Five years ago the Department of Mathematical Sciences at the University of Essex started using Maple T.A. for summative assessment in some of its Undergraduate modules. This commercially available software, which is integrated with the quite distinct computer algebra package Maple, is used to evaluate and grade summative student assignments. Graded answers can be algebraic expressions as well as numerical values and directly relevant feedback in the form of a bespoke worked solution can be instantly offered to the student. Random variables in the question algorithms enable each type of question to be varied in detail with the feedback automatically adjusted. The software has bookkeeping facilities for student scores and retains all the individual student answers, we will discuss occasions when these have had to be reviewed by the lecturer within the system and marks re-allocated. This approach replaced a good deal of marking by hand with its inevitable slow feedback to the student and issues surrounding the quality and cost of marking undertaken by graduate teaching assistants. In this reflective session we will look back over the last five years and discuss the main issues which have arisen, the problems encountered and now resolved as well as the difficulties which remain. We consider some of the benefits we have enjoyed as well and what we have learnt about the process of implementing Maple T.A.. Many issues will be relevant to any similar use of comparable software, such as Numbas for summative assessment. We will end by summarising with some key points and indicate how we hope to use Maple TA in the future.