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Use of computer assisted assessment by staff in the teaching of information science and library studies subjects

Author(s): Derek Stephens | Anita Curtis

Journal: Innovation in Teaching and Learning in Information and Computer Sciences
ISSN 1473-7507

Volume: 1;
Issue: 1;
Date: 2002;
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Keywords: Information science | Library studies | computer aided assessment | CAA

The use by staff of technology to deliver assessments across the Internet and on Intranets in support of the teaching of Information Science and Library Studies (ISLS) subjects could benefit university students. This paper describes a project to investigate the issues surrounding current and potential use of objective tests delivered by computer assisted assessment (CAA) within the Information Science and Library Studies (ISLS) curriculum as defined by the Library Association. The Department of Information Science at Loughborough University was used to pilot tests by staff for ISLS subjects using Question MarkĀ© software. Problems with the concept of CAA are identified and the educational arguments for and against the use of objective tests are discussed, in particular the potential benefits to lecturers. Methodology included a literature survey, a questionnaire for staff, interviews and four case studies from which the following conclusions were derived. There are mixed viewpoints in the literature, with some suggesting that objective questions, such as multiple choice, could be used as an additional form of assessment alongside the traditional essay. There is some reluctance among lecturers to use objective questions, as they are not convinced of their ability to test higher levels of learning. When surveyed, the majority of staff in the ISLS department surveyed were willing to consider the use of objective testing. They do prefer the concept of tests delivered by computer, rather than paper and pencil tests with the marking by the lecturer.Of particular importance to lecturers is the opportunity to reduce their burden of marking, although this must be offset against the time needed to produce high-quality objective questions as some lecturers have limited experience in this. Nevertheless, there is considerable interest in exploring the use of CAA. The case studies suggest that lecturers would benefit from improved support in question writing and technical support.The authors recommend that the Learning and Teaching Support Network centre for Information and Computing Science (LTSN-ICS) could create test material for ISLS and make it available across the Internet.
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