Partial credit for correct at second or third attempt

One of the features of OpenMark, the OU’s e-assessment system, is the fact that students are allowed several (usually three) attempts at each question, and receive hints which increase in detail after each unsuccessful attempt. This is the case even in summative use, where the marks awarded decrease in line with the amount of feedback that has been given before the question is correctly answered.

The provision of increasing feedback is illustrated in the figure below.

The way in which we give partial credit when a question is only answered following feedback contrasts with other other systems which give partial credit for partially correct answers (we sometimes do that too). Is one of these approaches better than the other? I have always liked our approach of giving increasing feedback, and it has recently been pointed out the me that it is also good if students can be encouraged to get a completely correct answer for themselves. However, I think it is important that we tell students if their answer is partially correct, rather than letting them think that it is completely wrong – and so sending them off on a wild goose chase!

I also think that one of the remaining issues for the use of e-assessment of this type, especially in assessing maths, is the fact that we don’t give credit for ‘working’, which of course is so much a feature of human marking.

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