In the second semester of the 2018-2019 academic year, IDEMS worked with two lecturers from Maseno University, Kenya, and the support of The University of Edinburgh to replace the Continuous Assessment Tests (CAT) with weekly electronic quizzes using the Computer Aided Assessment system STACK (System for Teaching and Assessment using a Computer algebra Kernel). STACK is the most advanced open source online assessment package for mathematics and STEM. It is designed to move beyond multiple choice questions by enabling students to type in a mathematical expression, e.g. a polynomial or equation. This approach pushes students to take responsibility for finding an answer, rather than guessing from a selection. It also has the capability to generate randomised versions of questions and predict mistakes in order to provide relevant feedback.
IDEMS worked with Dr Michael Obiero and Dr David Ambogo to author two types of weekly quizzes: Mastery Quizzes and Test Quizzes. The mastery quizzes aimed to reinforce the key ideas studied and students could attempt them repeatedly, with randomly generated versions of each question, until they felt confident with their understanding. Once they scored 80% or more, they qualified for the test quizzes, which could be attempted only once. Both quizzes informed the CAT scores and contributed towards 30% of the final grade.
Through this pilot, IDEMS created two open courses: Introduction to Calculus and Introduction to Linear Algebra, which other African universities, both in Kenya and other African countries including Ghana and Rwanda, are considering implementing in the near future. IDEMS is also scaling this project in its collaboration with Maseno University and will be working with five lecturers in the 2019-2020 academic year to develop assessments for six further courses. Furthermore, IDEMS has set up the STACK in its own servers to offer the open resources to any institution interested in implementing them. The results of the pilot have been positive and are being studied in detail for publication by Dr Michael Obiero.
Full details of our Open Courses can be found in the eCampus.