Saturday, August 03, 2013

2013 International Computer Assisted Assessment (CAA) Conference

I attended the fourteenth International Computer Assisted Assessment Conference (CAA2013) in Southampton on the 9th and 10th July. As always, the standard of presentations was high – CAA is one of the rare conferences where I'm always wanting to be in more than one session at a time.
The keynote this year was given by Don Mackenzie, who I first met at CAA in 2002 when he was presenting papers based on his TRIADS assessment software. Don discussed how the web has had a rather negative effect on the interactive element of computer assessment – TRIADS was a particularly visual assessment tool, particularly well suited to subjects such as medicine and geology (Don's subject). It certainly is true that current web based assessments lack the visual impact of TRIADS, though QTIWorks, SToMP II and JAssess probably can manage a decent approximation of most of TRIAD's question types. Maybe with a bit more HTML5 in the interactions we can catch up with the pre-web world...
One talk I particularly liked was “Perpetuating the cargo cult: Never mind the pedagogy, feel the technology” presented by Lester Gilbert (and co-written with Gary Wills and Onjira Sitthisak). Lester et al. would like to see better theories of pedagogy guiding research, go get away from that rather familiar situation of technologists and associates with no effective theory of pedagogy ritualistically deploy technology in teaching and learning situations with no more than well-intentioned hope of successful outcomes. It is in the nature of magical activities that this sometimes works and sometimes does not…”
The proceedings, including the full text of that paper, are available online at