Feedback, score and correct answers

This section describes some of the key educational concepts which have steered the design of the Tests feature in Chamilo. For teachers new to on-line teaching and learning, it is useful to consider some of the terminology Chamilo uses in relation to these concepts prior to developing the tests themselves.

Automated feedback

A major advantage in on-line learning is that it can offer the learner enormous flexibility in terms of where and when he/she chooses to study. A student can undertake a fully automated test if they wish anywhere and at any time and receive their score immediately. However, this freedom also means that there is no teacher to hand to explain why they have got a question wrong in a test or exercise, as there might be in a traditional classroom. In automated on-line tests, therefore, the teacher needs to pay particular attention to the provision of automated on-line feedback.

This means that as well as receiving a score, the student can receive a brief (pre-written) comment relating to their answer, whether it is right or wrong. Typically, if he gives the right answer, you might congratulate him: “Well done, I can see you have a good grasp of this concept!”. If he answers incorrectly, you can offer immediate feedback to encourage him to look beyond that demoralizing red “X”, and help make the error part of the learning process. This is the best time for him to learn where he went wrong and how to avoid the error next time. Use hints e.g : “Sorry, wrong answer! Have you read the Open Standards chapter deeply enough? A quick revision of Chapter 3 should help you out! Remember the example of OASIS and how it was designed?”. (This feedback could also contain a direct link to the “Chapter 3” example.)

Such feedback can “humanize” the test and is often really appreciated by students. It means a bit more work for the teacher when creating the test, but provides an important way of encouraging and correcting the learner during his auto-evaluation attempts.

Scoring tests

Assigning a score represents a “raw”, even crude way of evaluating a student's skills. Nevertheless, scores matter a lot to students even though they are of limited use in terms of formative assessment. You have a lot of flexibility in setting up scores, pass marks etc. in Chamilo, including assigning overall weightings to tests and the option to assign negative scores to individual answers. You should use these features with care, and avoid careless errors especially (a wrong score for a correct answer is incredibly frustrating for a student). If you give a automatically score to a learner, it can prove difficult to adjust it afterwards. Updating a score may be necessary under specific circumstances (e.g. where the test is complex), and this will require a manual revision by the teacher.

Displaying correct answers

The option to display correct answers is a simple and direct way of providing feedback by demonstrating to the learner what he should have answered. Sometimes displaying the answers in this way is desirable, but given that the learner may wish to re-take the test without being given the answer, or that you may well want to re-use the test on a future occasion, it is recommended you don't display the any answers, but instead use feedback to let the learner know how (rather than what) he should have answered and set him on the right course to get it right next time through his own efforts.

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