Technology Is Rapidly Lowering the Cost of Testing
People may view this as something for the good news/bad news file, but technology has quietly made it significantly easier to grade tests electronically. For example, a new paper in the Journal of Science Education and Technology highlights a system called “Eyegrade” :
While most current solutions are based on expensive scanners, Eyegrade offers a truly low-cost solution requiring only a regular off-the-shelf webcam. Additionally, Eyegrade performs both mark recognition as well as optical character recognition of handwritten student identification numbers, which avoids the use of bubbles in the answer sheet. When compared with similar webcam-based systems, the user interface in Eyegrade has been designed to provide a more efficient and error-free data collection procedure. The tool has been validated with a set of experiments that show the ease of use (both setup and operation), the reduction in grading time, and an increase in the reliability of the results when compared with conventional, more expensive systems.
It’s easy to worry about how these new systems could lead to more testing, but their ability to grade paper-and-pencil assessments could also make teachers’ lives a lot easier. Of course in the long run the debate about assessment will be moot because eventually everything will be assessed instantly and electronically. When every answer on every assignment is digitally stored and analyzed by complex algorithms you don’t need a state exam to determine proficiency levels.
Fisteus, J.A., Pardo, A., & Garcia, N.F. (2012). Grading Multiple Choice Exams with Low-Cost and Portable Computer-Vision Techniques Journal of Science Education and Technology DOI: 10.1007/s10956-012-9414-8