Automated assessments

By Vicky, posted
AI is a huge issue for all of us today – including those of us working in education and training.  Adaptive teaching and assessment is becoming more widely used in education and training – this is the process of adapting the level and materials given to the learner and then setting them an assessment based on this.  This is all AI generated, using a wealth of resources.  Automated assessments are certainly where education is heading and are becoming extremely popular.  Are they ever difficult for the teacher or trainer to manage or are they always helpful?

Advantages for the teacher or trainer

If you started your career in education more than 5 years ago, you will remember having to find assessment materials, put them together yourself and perhaps spend hours at the photocopier, collating these materials.  Then you would need to ensure you had enough assessments at different levels to be able to personalise learning for your students.  You would then take these assessments, mark them and analyse the results to inform your planning – pretty laborious!

The number one appeal for automating assessments is, of course, time.  Having technology at your fingertips that will set assessments and mark them does sound amazing to any overloaded teacher or trainer.

Your students are also receiving instant feedback in most cases – they don’t need to wait until you have marked several papers – they can find out there and then how they have done, which can be empowering and means they will be ready to act on their next steps and perhaps take charge of their own learning.

The idea that technology can collate and analyse results for you is also very tempting – this is time-consuming and can often result in human error at the end of a long day or week.

It seems as if we can give our learners an app, select the area of study and set them off with little input, receiving marked and analysed assessments at the end.  However, there are always downsides to everything!  Let’s look at the disadvantages of automated assessments.


Although revolutionary and exciting, AI isn’t quite all there yet.  If you are setting a multiple-choice test, for example, then an automated assessment might be just the thing you are looking for.  Learners can make the required choice, and this can be marked, and results presented to you very quickly.  This can be very helpful.  However, if you are setting written assignments, AI is often less helpful.  In the future, it is likely that AI will be able to recognise nuance, understand context and recognise creativity.  At this point in time, this is not the case.  Therefore, feedback may be mismatched, vague or downright wrong.  Learners may be receiving automated feedback that doesn’t help them at all and this is pretty dangerous.

Ownership should always lie with the teacher or trainer.  You are responsible for your learners and the assessment of their progress.  If we are over-reliant on automated tools, we can take ourselves out of the process.  Once the system has analysed and presented you with results, it is up to you what happens next, how you can use this information and build it into your planning.  Like any educational tool, it is only as good as the educator using it.

In short, it very much depends on the subject area that you are teaching or training in with how helpful automated assessments can be.  An English teacher at A level is probably not going to make much use of these tools.  However, in subjects with less nuance and subjectivity, automated assessments could be extremely useful. 

It will be interesting to see how AI tools develop over the next few years and there are already exciting developments.   In a trial with Oxbridge and the University of Birmingham, a platform called ‘Graide’ was tested in the marking of questions on Shakespeare and poetry analysis.  The feedback was 99% accuracy and congruence with teacher marking.  Perhaps it won’t be too long until this kind of automated assessing is available to us all!

 Photo by Mohamed Nohassi on Unsplash

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