Tests and Assessments (T&A) are an integral part of the teaching-learning process because they provide a framework in which educational objectives are set and the students’ progress charted. In recent years, many academic institutions and organisations have invested a large amount of money and resources in Learning Management Systems (LMS). However, in the areas of T&A, LMSes have limited successes and are mainly restricted to multiple choice questions. T&A are still mainly paper-based and the reasons are:
• Insufficient resources. Not enough computers or internet bandwidth for the students to take tests or assessments at the same time
• Reliability of computer systems. Factors such as virus attacks, hardware or electrical failures can severely disrupt crucial T&A
• No motivation for schools to administrator T&A using ICTs as most questions are not suited for automated marking
• Resistance to change. Trainers and administrators are not comfortable with the advent of new technologies and workflow
• IT (Information Technology) Literacy. Students who are not proficient in typing are at a disadvantage as compared with students skilled in typing
• Security Concerns (e.g. hacking and unauthorized access of accounts)
Current T&A processes in schools are inefficient, tedious and time consuming. Test papers are graded by teachers, marks are then manually added and entered into computer systems. Valuable teachers’ time spent on these administrative tasks can be better utilized in actively engaging students in the learning process.
A novel concept called SMART (Smart Marking Assessment Reporting Technology) is proposed. SMART is an integrated testing and assessment environment. It revolutionalises the way T&A are conducted by combining the strengths of the paper-based and learning systems. Administrative workloads of teachers will be reduced and students’ learning through T&A can be tracked by teachers, parents and all stakeholders.
Figure 1 gives an overview of the SMART system. In the SMART system, barcodes are automatically inserted into test or assessment papers (See Appendix A for sample paper). There is no change in the way tests (or assessments) are conducted and no learning curve for students. Questions are then scanned and automatically segmented from scanned test papers and stored as images. Teachers only need to mark and grade non-multiple choice questions (see Figure 2). The system will reassemble the test papers, generate reports and sent the results to other administrative systems. Results can also be exported to other software for analysis.
Figure 1.1: Overview of the SMART system
Figure 1.2: Individual Questions Extracted for Marking
The distinctive features of the SMART solution are:
When SMART is first installed, there is a fully functional 30-day Evaluation period. After the evaluation period, SMART MUST be activated to continue usage. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for all enquires on activation. There is no need to reinstall SMART during the activation process.