Monday, 14 July 2014

Adaptive Learning and Feedback

The use of interactive on-line formative quizzes in mathematics - Dr J. Ekins

At a simplistic level the feedback/hints from the quizzes that Ekins refers to are useful, although the quality of learning resulting from the hints is questionable. 

When I inputted a mistaken calculation on the OU Maths assessment site, the programme unhelpfully fed back that my answer was "too low". Not  a ‘little low’, ‘way too low’ or ‘derisorily low' simply a very generalized "too low" - which might be marginally more helpful than 'incorrect'. 
I made the error because I failed to read the question correctly. Feedback that suggested I read the question again might  have been more apt. (Attempting the quiz without wearing reading glasses was probably never considered!)

The type of feedback referred to in Ekins' example is dependent upon the degree to which the programme's authors can empathise with and predict the difficulties faced by a learner.  This will always mean that this type of feedback will be limited to the author's previous experience.

University of Glasgow College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences - Level 1 Biology Course
The University of Glasgow uses Moodle for its assessment platform. Students can access 4 formative self-assessment quizzes, which: are accessible for one week following completion of the related taught module, allow an unlimited number of attempts, provide feedback immediately. 
The quiz programmes allow lecturers the following options when creating questions:
  • Cloze questions (embedding answers in text)
  • Simple Calculated Question
  • Calculated multiple choice
  • Description Question
  • Maths Skills (GU) Question
  • Matching
  • Multi Choice
  • Random Short Answer Matching 
  • Short-Answer
  • True/False
  • Tagged MC Question
  • Third party questions (totalling approx. 50)
Somewhat more sophisticated than Ekins OU example. Lecturers can also allow students to have greater choice over which questions they wish to answer or skip. 
Given that the statistical analysis of both examples suggest the quizzes lead to an overall improvement of learners' achievements does support the belief that this type of formative assessment plays an important role in enhancing learner development. 

Ekins, J. (2007) ‘The use of interactive on-line formative quizzes in Mathematics’ [online], paper presented at the 11th International Computer Assisted Assessment Conference, 10–11 July 2007, pp. 163–75; (Accessed 9th July 2014)

Griffiths, M., Mcvey, M. and Finlay, C. (2011) Developing e-assessment using the Quiz Activity within Moodle:Empowering student learning,University of Glasgow College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences[Online] Availalble from: (Accessed 12 July 2014)

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