Back in September I was delighted to be a keynote speaker at EAMS: the first ever conference on E-Assessment in the Mathematical Sciences. For more information about the conference in general click here; for a recording of my keynote click here.
The conference was a pleasant surprise in many ways. Firstly, it was truly international, with attendees from Australia, Finland, Ireland, Japan, Norway, the Netherlands, South Africa and the US as well as from all over the UK. Secondly, it was not as “techy” as I’d feared it might have been, nor did the maths go right over my head (well, not very often…). Thirdly, and most importantly, I had to tone down my keynote, which had been written to be rather critical of much e-assessment practice, because there was some fantastic stuff reported at the conference! I was particularly pleased to be a keynote speaker alongside Christian Lawson-Perfect, Chris Sangwin and Michael Gage. Thus we heard about some of the very good e-assessment systems and question types for mathematical sciences: NUMBAS, STACK and WeBWorK. I added in some detail on Pattern Match.
As I’ve said before in this blog, I am particularly impressed by STACK, and its author Chris Sangwin gave a particularly thoughtful talk on “the interplay between calculation and reasoning”, which fed very neatly into my discussion of “how far is it appropriate to go” in assessing automatically.
Of course there were talks that were less good; the one point that I’d still want to emphasise is the need to monitor student use of questions very closely, and not to assume that they are behaving in the way that you think they are. However it was a joy to be at a meeting with such lovely people, most of whom seemed driven by a desire to improve their students’ learning. It was also a great pleasure that Cliff Beevers, who was already an expert in this area when I was just setting out in the very early 2000s, was also at the meeting.