Meta Keijzer-de Ruijter is a Project Manager for Digital Testing at TU Delft, an institution that is at the forefront of the digital revolution in academic institutions. Meta has been using Maple T.A. for years, and offered to provide her insight on the role that automated testing & assessment played in improving student pass rates at TU Delft.
Modern technology is transforming many aspects of the world we live in, including education. At TU Delft in the Netherlands, we have taken a leadership role in transforming learning through the use of technology. Our ambition is to get to a point where we are offering fully digitalized degree programs and we believe digital testing and assessment can play an important role in this process.
A few years ago we launched a project with the goal of using digital testing to drastically improve the pass rates in our programs. Digital testing helps organize testing more efficiently for a larger number of students, addressing issues of overcrowded classrooms, and high teaching workloads. To better facilitate this transformation, we decided to adopt Maple T.A., the online testing and assessment suite from Maplesoft. Maple T.A. also provides anytime/anywhere testing, allowing students to take tests digitally, even from remote locations.
Regular and repeated testing produces the best learning results because progressive monitoring offers instructors the possibility of making adjustments throughout the course. The randomization feature in Maple T.A. provides each student with an individual set of problems, reducing the likelihood that answers will be copied. Though Maple T.A. is specialized in mathematics, it also supports more common question types like multiple choice, multiple selection, fill-in-the-blanks and hot spot. Maple T.A.’s question randomization, possibilities for multiple response fields per question and question workflow (adaptive questions) are superior to other options. By offering regular homework assignments and analyzing the results, we gain better insight into the progress of students and the topics that students perceive as difficult. Our lecturers can use this insight to decide whether to repeat particular material or to offer it in another manner. In many courses, preparing and reviewing practice tests comprise an important, yet time-consuming task for lecturers, and Maple T.A. alleviates that burden.
At TU Delft, we require all first-year students to take a math entry test using Maple T.A in order to assess the required level of math. Since the assessment of the student’s ability is so heavily dependent upon qualifying tests, it is extremely important for the test to be completed under controlled conditions. In Maple T.A., it is easy to generate multiple versions of the test questions without increasing the burden of review, as the tests are graded immediately. Students that fail the entry test are offered a remedial course in which they receive explanations and complete exercises, under the supervision of student assistants. The use of Maple T.A. facilitates this process without placing additional burden on the teacher. When the practice tests and the associated feedback are placed in a shared item bank in Maple T.A., teachers are able to offer additional practice materials to students with little effort. It makes it considerably easier on us as teachers to be able to use a variety of question types, thus creating a varied test.
Each semester, TU Delft offers an English placement test that is taken by approximately 200 students and 50 PhD candidates, in which students are required to formulate their reasons for their program choices or research topics. It used to take four lecturers working full-time for two days to mark the tests and report the results to participants in a timely manner. The digitization of this test has saved us considerable time. The hundred fill-in-the-blank questions are now marked automatically, and we no longer have to decipher handwriting for the open questions!
TU Delft is not alone in its emphasis on digital testing; it has a prominent position on the agendas of many institutions in Europe and elsewhere. These institutions are intensively involved in improving, expanding and advocating the positive results from digital testing and digital learning experiences. Online education solutions like Maple T.A. are playing a key role in improving the quality of digital offerings at institutions.