How we cracked the auto-marking of GCSE short-text responses


Courtesy of

The mainstay of most GCSE exams is the short-text question. For our new GCSE Practice Exams, we have developed a free-text marking engine that is robust enough to deal with real GCSE questions and, more importantly, real students. That system is now Continue reading

Do they really get it, or are they just giving me the correct answer?

This article by Dr Niki Kaiser was originally posted on the Kaye Chem Notebook. I wanted to share it with you in the context of ‘future-ready education’. It is no longer enough to teach knowledge, even if that is sufficient to pass an exam. To succeed in the future, our students need a deep and intuitive understanding of their subject. Few writers address this with either the clarity or the practical teaching background Niki does.



One of the topics I most like to teach in chemistry is ionization energies: explaining their relative magnitudes, and outlining the consequent evidence for a shell structure in atoms. Students must draw on a range of fundamental ideas to master the new concepts that I introduce to them and, although they tend to struggle at first, they eventually “get it”, and the joy that they Continue reading

If this is reflective learning then we should throw away the mirror

reflective learnersI’ve just picked up a post on LinkedIn (here) that labelled the the above sheet as “Developing reflective learners”. Really???

To save your eyesight, here are the two student comments from the bottom of the sheet:

I think that I did well on talking about the formation of ox-bow lakes and identifying river processes. However, I didn’t do well on the formation of waterfalls and advantages and disadvantages of channel straightening.

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Assessing Understanding with multiple-choice questions

The National Curriculum couched learning achievement in terms of knowledge, understanding and evaluation (KUE), a cut-down version of Bloom’s Taxonomy. This remains, in my view, by far the most practical version for the working educator.

The easiest way to set up an assessment is via multiple-choice questions. Building the technology to serve and mark multiple choice tests is easy; most VLEs support it and there are plenty of Continue reading