Experiences of Using Automated Assessment in Computer Science Courses

John English, Tammy English
Journal of Information Technology Education: Innovations in Practice  •  Volume 14  •  2015  •  pp. 237-254
In this paper we discuss the use of automated assessment in a variety of computer science courses that have been taught at Israel Academic College by the authors. The course assignments were assessed entirely automatically using Checkpoint, a web-based automated assessment framework. The assignments all used free-text questions (where the students type in their own answers). Students were allowed to correct errors based on feedback provided by the system and resubmit their answers. A total of 141 students were surveyed to assess their opinions of this approach, and we analysed their responses. Analysis of the questionnaire showed a low correlation between questions, indicating the statistical independence of the individual questions. As a whole, student feedback on using Checkpoint was very positive, emphasizing the benefits of multiple attempts, impartial marking, and a quick turnaround time for submissions. Many students said that Checkpoint gave them confidence in learning and motivation to practise. Students also said that the detailed feedback that Checkpoint generated when their programs failed helped them understand their mistakes and how to correct them.
automated assessment, self-paced learning, ‘little and often’ assessment, feedback, multiple attempts, plagiarism, survey analysis
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