The University of Manchester uses Maple T.A. to assess student learning across a wide range of courses
Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs around the world are benefitting from the testing and assessment tool Maple T.A, which includes many features designed especially for courses involving mathematics. However, it’s not just STEM courses which need a software platform that offers instructors a comprehensive online assessment tool. Academic staff at the University of Manchester, UK’s largest campus-based university, use Maple T.A. beyond the traditional STEM courses, in a variety of programs from the Humanities.Maple T.A. is a powerful online testing and assessment system designed especially for courses involving mathematics. Since Maple T.A. automatically assesses responses, students receive instant feedback on their performance. Compatible with virtually any course management environment, Maple T.A. can be seamlessly integrated into the existing online learning infrastructure.
Maple T.A. first made its entry into the University of Manchester’s curriculum in the Faculty of Humanities’ mathematics-based programs such as Economics, which, in the first year alone, saw an enrollment of over 2000 students. As the first few courses build the foundation of later concepts and skills, the university required early skills to be thoroughly assessed and firmly established.
Manchester University also required the flexibility to test a wide range of course material without being limited by only certain types of questions, as it offers more courses than any other university in the country. Prior to the introduction of Maple T.A., instructors were restricted to using specific question types such as true/false and multiple choices in tests and evaluations due to the inability of other software programs to offer more than a limited subset of question types.
“The question types we had available to us placed limits on the material we were able to assess,” Dr. Leonard Gill, Lecturer in Econometric Theory and Applied Econometrics, explains. To properly assess students, Dr. Gill needed to be able to test their abilities to understand and use proper mathematical notation, and interpret mathematical and statistical material on graphs and diagrams. Maple T.A. offers many different types of questions that cover technical and non-technical subjects, including free-response math questions, and sophisticated algorithms for generating hundreds of practice questions based on a template. “The range and flexibility of the questions were critical for us to most effectively assess the students’ understanding of the material,” Dr. Gill noted. “Maple T.A. gave us assurance that students were completing the courses with the knowledge they needed for upper year courses.”
The University of Manchester is currently in the process of integrating Maple T.A. into their course management systems, using the Maple T.A. Connector for Blackboard Software to provide easy access to Maple T.A. from within the Blackboard environment. “By integrating Maple T.A. into our course management infrastructure, we will be able to provide a seamless environment for both instructors and students,” says Dr. Gill. “Being able to integrate the two will give us the opportunity to take advantage of the power of Maple T.A. while continuing to work within our existing infrastructure.”
Maple T.A. has also been integrated into other programs within the Faculty of Humanities, and in other faculties across the university. In Humanities, the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures, the School of Environment, Education and Development as well as the Manchester Business School have all benefitted from using Maple T.A.