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Tools for Automated Grading? 100

Posted by Cliff
from the tech-lightens-the-workload dept.
Dont tempt me asks: "As all teachers and students are well aware, it is back to school time. As a math/computer teacher, I am constantly looking for ways to automate repetitive tasks. The one that seems to take up most of my time is grading. As is typical for us nerds, I find myself looking at handwritten tests and thinking 'there's gotta be a better way...' Since I can't find any related open-source projects, I have been thinking about creating one. I have been toying with the idea of using OMR (Optical Mark Recognition) to make my own scannable multiple choice tests. Is anyone doing this? If not, where would be a good place to start? In addition to teachers, this could be a useful technology for questionnaires, or other processes that require manual data entry."
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Tools for Automated Grading?

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  • Scantron (Score:4, Interesting)

    by justanyone (308934) on Thursday September 08, 2005 @04:51PM (#13512888) Homepage Journal
    I taught astronomy at KU as a discussion section leader in 1991. We used scantron machines. These were #2 pencil IBM-card (~3 inches wide by ~8 inches tall) sized.

    The machines could NOT have been expensive. Using them was dead simple. We (the section leaders) wrote several tests, and rearranged each test to have different orderings for the choices. Thus, on test version A-1, I had answers (a) Sun, (b) Moon, (c) Earth, then on A-2 I had (a) Moon, (b) Sun, (c) Earth, etc. Then, we looked at their version of the test, and put in the right key.

    This kept cheating to a minimum; at the least they had to memorize the answers instead of the answer key. And, memorizing the answers was kind of okay in a sense since they at least paid attention to the subject material.
    • IMHO in both computer science and mathematics the process of finding a solution is more important than the answer itself. If a person has correct answer but got it only by mistake then what good is it? I am not sure if grading students so objectively will help them later on when they face advance problems in math/c.s. Teachers like you should consider this aspect of education in mind.
      • Most of my math classes were 50% for the answer and 50% for the work. I remember one test where I couldn't figure out one problem, I wrote down x=4 as the answer without any work showing (I hadn't read HHGTTG yet). The answer was 4, I got 1/2 marks for the question. I've also done questions where I did all the work correctly but for some reason wrote the incorrect answer at the end, something like:
        ....
        x=4/2
        x=4
        Yes, I got the answer wrong, but up till that point everything was correct, I got 1/2 marks
        • Just ask the kids this :

          1.
          You're in a desert, walking along in the sand when all of a sudden you look down and see a tortoise.
          It's crawling toward you.
          You reach down and flip the tortoise over on its back.
          The tortoise lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun, beating its legs trying to turn itself over.
          But it can't.
          Not without your help.
          But you're not helping.

          Why is that?

          2.
          Describe in single words, only the good things that come into your mind - about your mother.
      • If a person has correct answer but got it only by mistake then what good is it?

        Well, it is still the right answer. Sometimes it is better to be lucky than good. I guess the answer to your question gets into some muddy philosophical area. Do you want to be on the plane with the expert pilot or the luckiest man on earth?

        Enough with that mumbo jumbo though... I agree that multiple choice is not a very good method for determining how well a given student is doing at math or in CS.

      • I totally agree. To me, yeah I may sound a fool, but the definition of teacher is someone who teaches things. Not orates something in a textbook, not someone who performs intellectual msturbation on the naive, but someone who uses their knowledge and skill to help others achieve their goal.

        The final exam that a course of teaching culminates in is usually the benchmark of achievement of the student, but in what way is this useful to a teacher given it does not help someone teach. No doubt tests are imp
      • Re:Scantron (Score:3, Interesting)

        by clifyt (11768)
        "If a person has correct answer but got it only by mistake then what good is it?"

        Because by knowing how a test works, it tells a LOT about the student. There is a lot of science behind item response theory...for instance, a right answer on a specific item may tell you that the student has guessed. That's right...the reliability of the item may be that over 70% of the people that passed the test got it wrong, while 70% of the people the failed got it right. Quite a bit can be figured out about the student
    • Scantron Exploit (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Noksagt (69097)
      So many of the scantron-style tests had heavy-black marks on either or both sides of the exam. The machine use these marks to locate each question. (A big square would correspond to start/stop of the test and a line would correspond to an individual question or similar). Ths beats having to guesstimate where the questions were by feed-through rate & also led to high-speed machine-grading.

      Well, a clever student decided to draw his own marks on the side of the exam. This managed to trick the idiotic m
      • Re:Scantron Exploit (Score:4, Interesting)

        by bluGill (862) on Thursday September 08, 2005 @05:59PM (#13513500)

        Back when I was in school, 15 years ago, my teachers were onto such tricks. It isn't hard to look at scores are you write them into your book. The teacher already knows 'Suzie' is smart, often getting a perfect score, so if he[1] misses most of the questions it is time to re-examine things by hand.

        The most popular way to cheat was to mark the little box at the top that set this sheet to the master, which would re-program the machine to take your test as the correct answers.

        None of these tricks were hard for a teacher to catch (if you knew about them it was easier, and the principal made sure they knew). Once you catch a student doing this you just write zero in for his score and re-run the tests.

        [1]we miss you Johnny Cash

    • I proudly present...

      The Scantron Test Scoring Machine! [scantron.com]

      Still VERY widely used.

    • Erm.....

      What sort of teacher/student in the past 20 years hasn't used a scantron at some point or another?

      the machines are dirt-cheap, and accurate enough for all intents and purposes.

      of course, it does make the course a good deal less personal.
  • How about this? (Score:2, Informative)

    by iseth (258694) *
    Autodata ExpertScan [autodata.com] does this already. I've used it for surveys and forms, it should work for a test too, but admittedly, I've not tried it for that.
  • There's a legend about the time when OMR was a new technology: a student had marked every single checkbox. The software gave him 100% points, because it only checked whether the correct answers were marked. :-)

    • Well, it didn't work for me...

      Not that I tried it, of course.
    • I had a teacher in high school who graded OMR like sheets manually with an overlay that only had the holes cut for the correct answers.

      Several times if I didn't know the answer I would mark more than one (you don't want to mark all of them, it stands out too much) and I always got credit.

      The teacher seemed like a smart guy too, I wonder if he was doing it intentionally to see if people would figure it out.
  • Use the low-tech solution. The answer key is created by using a hole punch on each correct blank. Then hold it up and mark in red any circle that isn't marked on the student's answer sheet.

    Of course, you have to also look for students entering multiple answers (especially if they know how you're grading).
    • Of course, you have to also look for students entering multiple answers (especially if they know how you're grading).
      And, of course, a good way to do this would be to have a second key which has all of the wrong holes punched.
    • Or reverse it. Create your own bubble sheet but use a template, whether holes cut in card board or a transparent print out, as the grader key.
    • Just punch out all the holes, and rim the correct answer in colored marker, or suchlike.
  • Once you scan the tests, you will have a graphic. You should be able to look at areas within that graphic and 'see' if it is dark. Take a look at imagemagick.org - an open source set of graphic manipulation tools that make this bone head easy in most of the popular languages. Make your life easy and place marks on the form so you can calibrate you fed the test in properly.
  • by mr_rattles (303158) on Thursday September 08, 2005 @05:00PM (#13512986) Homepage
    Hi, I'm a CS student and always looking for ways to automate repetitive tasks. Is there any project out there that can do my work for me so that I don't have to?
  • > I have been toying with the idea of using
    > OMR (Optical Mark Recognition) to make my
    > own scannable multiple choice tests.

    Ooh! Ooh! Does this mean I can use a calculator when I take your test?

    No? Hey, no fair! ;)
  • Not just grading.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by thefirelane (586885) on Thursday September 08, 2005 @05:03PM (#13513016)
    Why not do automatic test creation as well. If you're going to do multiple choice, you can have a 'pool' of questions. Each question has a score, based on the percentage of students who get it wrong usually.

    You could then automatically create tests with a certain percentage of 'A level' questions and so on. This would also let you more-or-less predict the curve... 10% will get an A, and so on.

    Since the grading is automated as well, it would feed back into each question's score automatically

    This may sound disturbing, but this is what the SATs do... those small sections at the end are just next years questions being tested

    I also had a professor in college who did this, but it was through mental calibration over years. Yes, this does mean you can not give out the tests after for the students to review... but the test was surprisingly fair.
    • I also had a professor in college who did this, but it was through mental calibration over years. Yes, this does mean you can not give out the tests after for the students to review... but the test was surprisingly fair.

      I had a professor in college who did this, and he regularly gave out past exams for students to study from. He said before each test that even though he often reuses test questions, the result had always been a standard grade curve.

    • This is actually an excellent idea.

      But what really matters is the content. My wife teaches the courses in primary education (6 to 12y olds). She has a hard time making up questions for each course in each grade. If there was an openly licensed 'questions base' (maybe even a wiki) this would help her alot. She would be happy to contribute her existing material ;-)

      You might want to start such an initiative along with the actual open source application.

      Ohw... and *please* mind the localisation so there's a
  • Is that most human beings are WAY too predictable in creating them- 75% of the answers will be B, unless it's a true and false question in which case 60% will be A.

    My suggestion- get togehter with a programmer, and save class time by giving your tests on the web. You can code the tests in XML- the ASP or Java or python or PHP or whatever can randomize them for you so that no two students get the test answers in the same order. Students can log in from the computer lab to take the tests after school, or f
    • The best practice for multiple choice tests is to put the answers in alphabetical order. Bingo, no predictability.
      • Not really- I had a teacher that did this and I could constantly score 80% on his tests. His subconscious got the better of him- his answers were usually (not always, but usually) 2nd or 3rd in alphabetical order, and because he was concentrating on the alphabet, the wrong answers were always rediculous enough that skimming the material at 1500 WPM was enough to make a good guess.
    • Um... have you ever taken a multiple choice test? Doesn't sound like it, that's for sure.
    • save class time by giving your tests on the web.

      And this will be an open book test? Or 3 people taking the test at once?

      • Or 3 people taking the test at once?

        If so, they'll have to take it 3 times, and with the randomization factor thrown in, they aren't likely to get the same questions twice. Three times as much work.

        And this will be an open book test?

        All modern testing should be open book and timed. After all, in reality, that's the new mode of skills people need to survive- the ability to research solutions and discern among several potential solutions, while applying event-specific variables correctly.
        • If so, they'll have to take it 3 times, and with the randomization factor thrown in, they aren't likely to get the same questions twice. Three times as much work.

          With the one smarter kid supplying the answer to the other two all 3 times.

          All modern testing should be open book and timed. After all, in reality, that's the new mode of skills people need to survive- the ability to research solutions and discern among several potential solutions, while applying event-specific variables correctly.

          No. Some stuf

          • With the one smarter kid supplying the answer to the other two all 3 times.

            Thus teaching the other two the most invaluable lesson anybody can possibly learn- to listen to experts.

            No. Some stuff you just need to 'know'.

            And how much of that have you used in your career?

            Especially at the high school level. If you merely look up the answer each time, you never internalize it. It never becomes a part of you.

            But what you do internalize is where it exists- which is far more valueable than the fact itself
            • Thus teaching the other two the most invaluable lesson anybody can possibly learn- to listen to experts.

              Or.."You're too dumb to ever actually know anything. Just ask the other guy."

              And how much of that have you used in your career?

              'Career' isn't everything.
              Imagine sitting around with some friends, discussing events in the Middle East, or WWII. Without having a picture in your mind of where countries sit in relation to others...you miss a lot of the implications of why, who, and where.

              - You never rea

              • Or.."You're too dumb to ever actually know anything. Just ask the other guy."

                That remark resembles more than 55% of the general population- and it's the reason computers and databases were invented to begin with.

                'Career' isn't everything.

                True, but it's one of the two main reasons society is sending you to school in the first place. Sitting around with your friends answering trivia questions isn't among those reasons.

                Imagine sitting around with some friends, discussing events in the Middle East, or
  • Depending on your testing needs/ability, you should easily be able to do optical testing of multiple choice or true/false tests (or have them submit tests via computer). A lot of more valuable tests require reading and thinking to grade. This still isn't fun.

    But to make it less of a time sink, just multitask; grade during your commute or tv or laundry or workout or whatever.
  • by BortQ (468164) on Thursday September 08, 2005 @05:15PM (#13513102) Homepage Journal
    It works better for 'fluffy' subjects involving opinionated essay writing, but here's the method:

    - Take all the submitted assignments and collect them in a big pile.
    - Throw the pile down a flight of stairs.
    - Everything that makes it to the bottom gets an A. For each step above the bottom take off 5% of the grade.
    - That's it.

  • This is something I've spent some time mulling over in my head, for no apparent reason, since I'm not even in the education industry at the moment. If you are relying on OMR, you are relying on a scanner. If you have access to a scanner with a bulk input, this might be ok, otherwise you're going to spend as much time scanning the pages as you would just grading them. If you have the resources in your classroom, setting up a randomized computer test for your students would eliminate paper usage (and save
    • In junior high school my best friend and I sat next to each other. We were given weekly spelling tests, and for grading we were supposed to hand them to teh person next to us. We worked out a system where, if both of us got something wrong, we marked it correct, but if one of us made more errors, he got graded down. We thought we were so slick - until we realized that we never got a spelling grade. They counted for nothing.
  • by gozar (39392) on Thursday September 08, 2005 @05:17PM (#13513133) Homepage
    My best math teacher assigned homework every night. She would flip a coin the next day on whether it would be for a grade or not. So 50% of the time she wouldn't have to grade anything.

    Assessment should be about the students knowing the material. Stuff like showing your work goes a long way. Math is the easiest to automate, but that would only show you that the student got the correct answer, not where the answer came from (like from a friend!).

    To lower you work load, flip a coin on whether the students will hand in the work. If they aren't handing it in, trade with another student and grade it in class. Scantron only sends the message to your students that you are too lazy to look at their work, so why should they put any effort into it.

    • Your teacher was a smart person. But she was lucky the bureaucracy let her get away with it. And that none of the students went whining to their parents about being made to do homework that wasn't graded. With school more bureaucratic and political than ever, I doubt if that would be allowed today.
    • Daily homework should be gone over during class anyway (math problem type stuff anyway). My teachers would glance at everyones notebook and if you did it you got a check. Then we would go over it. Made sense to me.

      I had a nother teacher that would twice a month give a quiz that was just page and problem numbers, if we did the homework we could anwser them, but it didn't make sense to do homework and then not go over it.
    • MAth is one of the subjects where it is most important to examine the process behind a particular answer. Reducing everything to a series of multiple choice questions and scantron bubbles would be disasterous. At that point you may as well quit teaching.
  • When I was in high school, one of my teachers placed a small keypad/LCD on every desktop in the class (the seats were arranged as long booths, so wires weren't an issue). The LCD just prompted: "Answer to Question #X" and you typed in A, B, C, or D.

    You could navigate back and forward, review your answers, and confirm completion. When you were done, the grade was instantly recorded and displayed to the student.

    That was over 10 years ago! I see no reason why this shouldn't be possible (and inexpensive) in
    • Nowadays, it would be more cost effective just to give every student a laptop, with a secure network application for test-taking. And a lot of schools are doing just that. Of course, every time a story about that appears on Slashdot, we hear a lot of noise about technology not replacing teachers.

      Well, it's true -- technology can't replace teachers. But it sure can give them more time to actually teach.

      • how exactly is a fragile and expensive laptop more cost effective than a $20 (have to assume the school will be fleeced by manufacturers spending $2 to make each unit) block of plastic with an LED display and a few instance switches?
        • Typical geek solution: give a teacher a few electronic parts and say, "Here's your new grading system!" Who installs the system? Who fixes it when it breaks? How do you run the wires so they aren't a hazard?
          • as opposed to laptops because laptops are so simple to maintain and repair over time.

            seriously a custom designed system built to be rugged and safe for a classroom is much better than throwing a pile of money at the problem and hoping it goes away.
            • And if laptops were only used to take tests, you'd have a point. But they have many other classroom uses: writing (students do more writing with less proding if they have access to a laptop), research (accessing primary sources online for free instead of expensive, watered-down textbooks), educational software, etc.

              I'm not sure what your point is with that "throwing money" remark, unless it's that we can't solve problems by buying technology without knowing what we're going to do with it. That's certainly

    • My school has eliminated paper from the grade system. A teacher gives out an assignment, grades it, then puts it right into their PC. From the program (Grade Quick), they can also make attendence sheets, seating charts, and a vast amount of other stuff. They can even make say...homework ONLY 15% of your final grade and the program does all the math, saving a lot of time. If you want to know your grade, most teachers will just let you ask and they will show it to you. With the help of a 3rd party group (Edli
  • Collect all of the tests, photocopy them, and allow students to grade themselves (walking through answers in class should take less than one class session & will help students understand what they missed). Cheaters can be caught by comparison to the photocopies.

    If privacy isn't a concern, you can chop off the corner with the students' name & write a number on top & allow them to grade someone else's exam.
  • Multiple Guess (Score:4, Interesting)

    by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Thursday September 08, 2005 @05:32PM (#13513290)

    I've always had a strong dislike for multiple choice and true/false testing. Taking those tests is often more of an exercise in test taking than it is in the subject matter. A good test taker can eliminate a good portion of the answers right away and use fairly intuitive psychology to improve the odds of guessing correctly.

    What ever happened to demonstrating competence in a field? Forget multiple choice and true/false. Ask your students to actually solve applied math problems or actually write some code (or pseudo code). Maybe you can't do as much testing that way and maybe you can't shorten the time it takes to grade the papers but at least you will be testing something worthwhile.

    Sorry for the rant but after having survived more than a decade of "education" that consisted primarily of memorize foo and the regurgitate, I'm fairly traumatized by the horror that is the educational system. I learned orders of magnitude more useful information by simply reading everything and anything and trying to apply what I learned to my pet projects. I took one too many tests where I knew several multiple choice answers where justifiable and "right" depending upon unspecified information not contained in the question and having to guess what the test author thought the correct answer was. Multiple choice, true/false, and automated testing are big indicators of a "fast food" mentality and I'm firmly against that sort of foolishness. Grumble, grumble, etc.

    • Re:Multiple Guess (Score:4, Insightful)

      by bluGill (862) on Thursday September 08, 2005 @06:10PM (#13513582)

      There are times for memorization, and there are times when you need to go farther. In math you always need to go farther and understand the concepts. In shop you must get 100% (no misses allowed!) on the safety memorization test before you are allowed to take the test on real tools. Of course knowing that the margin of safety on some saw is 10 inches doesn't mean you won't put your fingers closer to the blade, but if you don't know that number it means you will.

      Memorization is important. Do not overlook the value of memorizing some things (even if you will never need to know that poem once you pass the class, it is still useful to do it). Though overall I agree that there is too much focus on memorizing (mostly on the wrong thing!) in school, that doesn't mean you can get rid of memorizing.

      • I don't have mod points to mod you up, so I will respond instead. The original poster did not indicate what level of mathematics they teach. I think it is important for the discussion.

        My first thought when I started reading everyones comments was that they seemed to be missing the point that the first several years of mathematics are almost entirely memorization. Addition and subtraction are conceptual when showing children a bunch of apples and then taking two away. After that, it's memorization. Multiplic
      • Memorization is stupid. Factual knowledge is a commodity. I can look anything up in seconds.

        Anything worth knowing will be "naturally" memorized through use. Anything not worth knowing will be forgotten. Anything worth knowing that has accidently been forgotten can be looked up.

        It's a beautiful system, and it's all natural!
        • You need to learn to read. Or maybe reading comprehension (Though I'll admit that it would help if I was a better writer). You can look some stuff up in a book, but sometimes you should memorise that stuff before you need it.

          When your clothes are burning off your back there is not time to find a book to look up "Stop Drop and Roll", so you have to memorize it in advance - in fact most people would never need to know what to do in that situation, but everyone should memorize what to do about it!

          There is


    • What ever happened to demonstrating competence in a field? Forget multiple choice and true/false. Ask your students to actually solve applied math problems or actually write some code (or pseudo code). Maybe you can't do as much testing that way and maybe you can't shorten the time it takes to grade the papers but at least you will be testing something worthwhile.

      Sorry for the rant but after having survived more than a decade of "education" that consisted primarily of memorize foo and the regurgitate, I'

    • So true. Having been a grader as an undergrad, I understand the attraction of Scantron-type systems. BUT I can also say that I don't remember nearly as much from the classes that used multiple-choice tests as I do from the classes that required you to actually show some command of the material.

      It's a lot harder to grade, I realize, but the best tests in my opinion are the ones that have four essay questions, all of which require a great deal of thought on the part of the student.

      Memorizing facts is nothi
    • Re:Multiple Guess (Score:3, Insightful)

      by SlamMan (221834)
      At some level you have to think about what's logistically possible for a teacher. Say you teach 8th grade science. Your school has 8 mods (or periods, whatever they call em these days), 6 of which you teach students during, 1 for your lunch, and 1 for "planning", which is usually spent deal with school bureaucracy, possibly calling parents, or once in a while doing actual lesson plans for the next day.

      Each of your 6 classes has 30-35 students.

      Every time you give an assignment to you students, you get 180-
  • suggestions (Score:3, Informative)

    by Darth_Burrito (227272) on Thursday September 08, 2005 @05:34PM (#13513307)
    Everyone I know uses scantron for multiple choice tests. If you're looking for some slightly more tech oriented solutions, here are some suggestions:

    For multiple choice tests you could use off the shelf survey software like phpsurveyor or phpesp. Keep in mind these wouldn't necessarily be great at grading but it would let you easily analyze the test results question by question.

    If you are grading programming assignments, you could develop your own testing suites using the *unit family of testing suites: nunit (.net), junit (java), phpunit (php), and I'm sure there are others. I think there's even some tools designed to evaluate test coverage like jcoverage (never used). Maybe you could have advanced students write test suites for the novice student assignments and evaluate/fix them with jcoverage... then use the test suites to automate testing of novice students.

    Of course, there are only so many things that are easy to test in an automated fashion. You may have to give students exact specifications on interfaces and that may not always be desirable.
  • And make the students do the work...

    Create three variations of the test with each question yielding a slightly different mathematical answer. You could have it as simple as adding all the answer so they match a certain sum or have an algebra equation at the end that they plug the values into.

    All you have to do is check the variation number of the test and the result of the algorithm.

    To shake it up and prevent cheating you can use variations on the test (either variables or questions), you can use variations
    • There are LaTeX contributions that'll do all that for you. All you do is input the questions and the answers, and it'll randomize the answers, make the different versions, etc. Never used them, since I'm not in a teaching position, but if I were, I'd use `em.
  • In math, I think showing work is one of the most valuable aspects of the test. This shows a deep understanding of the problem at hand. Why not have final answers on a scantron like sheet and once marked wrong, review just the incorrect answers on the work sheet they turn in along with the scantron. Grading will still take time but you will instantly get to the incorrect problems and help the people who need it most.
  • Hmmm... Lets see - started college in 1985. The technology for multiple guess tests back THEN was scantron...

    Not sure if they have better or faster scantron machines today - but I would bet your school has something like it around somewhere.

    Ask Slashdot - reinventing the wheel since the late 20th Century

    • Not sure if they have better or faster scantron machines today - but I would bet your school has something like it around somewhere.


      They're still the same. The latest scanatron is still reported to have trouble distinguishing the correct answer if there is even a trace amount of pencil on another cell.

      If you make a mistake, you either need to erase heavily (potentially damaging the paper) or get another sheet.

  • Do less grading!! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MagicDude (727944) on Thursday September 08, 2005 @06:14PM (#13513625)
    Not really a technological answer to what you were looking for, but I think it's worth mentioning. You say that you spend most of your time grading. I don't know how many students you teach, but I'm wondering if it's just a matter of you giving too much busywork to your students that you in turn have to grade. In my high school calculus class, my teacher assigned homework but he never graded it. At the beginning of every class, he make a quick pass around to see who had done it, and mark you off if you hadn't. He would then pass out an answer key for the assignment and go over any questions people had. His policy on homework was that it helps some people, and is just a pain in the butt for others. So the deal was that if your semester average was over 90%, there was no penealty for not doing homework. If your average was between 80 and 90, then you lost 0.5% for each homework not done, and so forth. As such, the only thing he graded for our class were the exams he gave every 3-4 weeks. So I'm just saying that perhaps the answer isn't to find faster ways to grade, but eliminating some of the pointless grunt work for you and for your students.
  • Maybe I've written some software that can help you. I'm a computer science teacher at the high school level, and I take my grading very seriously. But, I hate "busy work" and am equally serious about using technology to streamline my grading workflow.

    Now, I assume you only have one PC in your classroom, whereas every student in my room has their own machine in front of them. And that's a huge advantage; if the work is in digital form to begin with, it grades much more quickly.

    Anyway, I've done some t

  • I'm working on an open-source Learning Management System called Sakai [sakaiproject.org] that has a tool for online test taking - you set up the test, tell the system what the correct answers are, then students sign in and take the test whenever.

    There are obvious limitations to online test taking, but it *does* provide automated grading, and with the right institutional commitment it can have a positive impact on student learning.
  • I'd simply suggest keeping away from automated grading, as it is a very bad way of grading.

    I have taught math and CS for quite a few years, and I have never ever given an exercise in an examination for which the point was the final result. Most of the time, I do not even look at the final result. Of course, it is a lot more work to actually read what students write, how they get to the results they get, how they argue if they argue, &c, but that is what I am teaching them to do, so that is what I am gr

  • Try Moodle and such. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Paladin2ez (619723) on Thursday September 08, 2005 @07:31PM (#13514041)
    I'm a highschool math / science teacher and for a while I've been playing around with moodle (http://moodle.org/ [moodle.org]). Though it may take a little to setup (PHP and MySQL are needed), it is a good system. Just make sure you have the power to use it.

    All in all, it will allow you to make quizzes and lessons online that students can access. Questions can be auto sorted and even short answer questions with different possible answers. Its a beautiful system with the only flaw of facilitating a computer for each student to use. (I'm in an independant school so our kids have laptops at the ready, something we don't all have.)

    The only other geek-oriented possiblity would be using scantrons or small LCD based devices, but from what I've seen nothing fits the bill. Possibly the best action might be changing how you grade and what work your students do (ie projects instead of tests and the similar). It works with a little imagination and there's alot less grading!
    • Collect the tests
    • Semi-randomly distrubute them back to the students.
    • Call out the answers, and have each student mark the wrong answers.
    • Get immediate feedback about problems that lots of students missed.
    • Make bored looking students work out the problem on the board.
    • Return test to original students.
    • If mistakes in grading are found, take points from mistaker and give to mistakee.

    Works especially well if you don't happen to have a lesson plan that day.

    This happened all the time in my high school. And de

    • Besides concerns about cheating, that practice is likely a violation of the student's right to privacy. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act [ed.gov] prohibits the release of any information from a student's education record. Because test scores make up a large part of any final grade, sharing these results with other students is probably a no-no.

      This happened all the time in my high school.

      Yeah, high school is a good place to stomp all over kid's rights. Somebody has to put them in their place...

      • Just remove the students' names before redistributing the exams. Keep only an identifier with the answer sheet and put the students' names in a seperate list.
      • That's just as much, if not more, busywork as grading the tests.

        However, I don't think the GP is correct - nobody objects to students working in groups, etc., and I fail to see how peer-graded homework that isn't handed in constitutes part of a student's "record." Nobody would do that for a major test or final exam.

        • Did you read the original question or comments?

          The article specifically asks about grading tests, with no mention homework:
          I find myself looking at handwritten tests and thinking 'there's gotta be a better way...'

          Then tktk writes:
          Collect the tests
          ...

          And I respond:
          Because test scores make up a large part of any final grade, sharing these results with other students is probably a no-no.

          Then you write:
          I fail to see how peer-graded homework that isn't handed in constitutes part of a student's "

      • Jeez, chill. It's a simple matter to make things anonymous, but I doubt the process would be in violation of the act anyway (the teacher can make up the grades later based on the student's percentages.)

        We used to do this as well, and it was a very educational experience. I can imagine it now... "Jimmy, what is the answer to question six?" "I'm sorry, the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act prohibits the release of any information from my education record. Since my knowledge of the answer constitutes
  • What kind of teacher expects kids to do work that the teacher won't see and can't be bothered to deal with? If you want some fancy computer gizmo to do your homework grading for you, do your students get to have the same attitude and just copy and paste wikipedia articles?
  • I thought that the traditional way was to give them the test, collect them up, and throw all the papers down the stairs. Then the ones that fall furthest get the highest mark. Easy, and works for all non-practical subjects and some practical ones.
  • On SourceForge, look up Webwork, Moodle, AIM (Assessment In Mathematics), and LON-CAPA, or look at STACK here. [york.ac.uk] Webwork, AIM and STACK are primarily geared towards delivering math homework and I know that Webwork in particular can deliver fairly sophisticated problems. Webwork is entirely free and has several large free problem libraries, AIM is costly in that it uses Maple as one of its components, but STACK is similar and replaces Maple with Maxima or Octave (I think).

    Moodle and LON-CAPA are more g

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