Incorporating partial credit in computer-aided assessment of Mathematics in secondary education

Helen S. Ashton, Cliff E. Beevers, Athol A. Korabinski, Martin A. Youngson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


In a mathematical examination on paper, partial credit is normally awarded for an answer that is not correct, but, nevertheless, contains some of the correct working. Assessment on computer normally marks an incorrect answer wrong and awards no marks. This can lead to discrepancies between marks awarded for the same examination given in the two different media. The current paper presents possible solutions to this problem and the results of experiments designed to test how successful these solutions are in practice. In light of the findings, developments to the assessment engine have been made and some questions redesigned for use in real automated examinations. The results were obtained as part of the Project for Assessments in Scotland using Information Technology (PASS-IT): a major collaborative programme involving the leading educational agencies in Scotland (see for more details). PASS-IT has demonstrated that the computer can help measure lower order student skill profiles provided the computer assessment package is sophisticated enough. Optional steps are required to mimic partial credit; randomisation of parameters is needed for practice and the avoidance of copying; the ability to capture and mark automatically mathematical expressions and short free text responses; and the delivery in a number of feedback modes are all vital ingredients of an automatic assessment system. PASS-IT has shown how to ensure that education drives technology and not vice versa. Finally, collaboration has been paramount within PASS-IT and should continue. No single group has all the keys to unlock the future of computer-aided assessment. Scotland is well placed to move forward and e-assess where its students e-learn in a large range of subjects such as those delivered via the SCHOLAR Programme (see ). It should be done too by ensuring that teachers remain central to the learning cycle by supporting the demanding work they do through the supply of suitably filtered data on student performance. Special educational needs can also be addressed more effectively by the use of technology. © 2006 British Educational Communications and Technology Agency.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-119
Number of pages27
JournalBritish Journal of Educational Technology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2006


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