A tool for facilitating the automated assessment of engineering/science courses

Azam Beg, Mouza Alhemeiri, Ajmal Beg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In recent years, massive open online courses (MOOCs) have become quite popular. Such courses are either completely free or cost nominally. Generally, the MOOCs face the challenge of not being recognized as ‘regular’ courses (i.e., the ones taken at the traditional learning institutions). One of the main reasons for this lack of acceptability is the assessment in an unsupervised environment, which is prone to the problems of test-taker’s online lookups or interaction with others for finding the answers to the test questions. A few ways of alleviating this problem include: limiting the time for answering the questions, the avoidance of repetitive questions, and the creation of a large number of questions. This paper presents a tool named QAgen that enables the automatic creation of a large number of questions and answers related to different topics in computer/electrical engineering (ECE), computer science, physics, etc. Specifically, the tool is related to the courses on digital logic design, computer architecture, etc. The generated questions are in a format that is suitable both for learning management system (LMS) based and/or non-LMS-based assessment in conventional courses or MOOCs. The proposed tool is based on open-source software, thus eliminating the need for any commercial software packages. The underlying principles of QAgen are applicable to other engineering/science courses as well, if the assessment methods require the creation of some connected-object diagrams, tables and equations. For assessing the usefulness of QAgen, practice question sets were created for three different courses. The student surveys for these courses indicated that the questions helped students prepare for actual tests/examinations. Especially favored by the students was the availability of correct answers at the end of each practice test/examination.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Electrical Engineering Education
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020

Keywords

  • Massive open online course
  • automated assessment
  • circuit schematics
  • distance learning
  • e-learning
  • engineering education
  • logic design
  • test-bank

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

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