Automatic Short Answer Grading and Feedback Using Text Mining Methods

Automatic grading is not a new approach but the need to adapt the latest technology to automatic grading has become very important. As the technology has rapidly became more powerful on scoring exams and essays, especially from the 1990s onwards, partially or wholly automated grading systems using computational methods have evolved and have become a major area of research. In particular, the demand of scoring of natural language responses has created a need for tools that can be applied to automatically grade these responses. In this paper, we focus on the concept of automatic grading of short answer questions such as are typical in the UK GCSE system, and providing useful feedback on their answers to students. We present experimental results on a dataset provided from the introductory computer science class in the University of North Texas. We first apply standard data mining techniques to the corpus of student answers for the purpose of measuring similarity between the student answers and the model answer. This is based on the number of common words. We then evaluate the relation between these similarities and marks awarded by scorers. We then consider an approach that groups student answers into clusters. Each cluster would be awarded the same mark, and the same feedback given to each answer in a cluster. In this manner, we demonstrate that clusters indicate the groups of students who are awarded the same or the similar scores. Words in each cluster are compared to show that clusters are constructed based on how many and which words of the model answer have been used. The main novelty in this paper is that we design a model to predict marks based on the similarities between the student answers and the model answer.

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