Transitioning to eAssessment in Mathematics

The goal of this project was to integrate appropriate e-assessment, including e-self-assessment, into key first year mathematics modules at UCC and CIT. The initiative aimed to (i) increase student engagement, (ii) improve students’ key numerate skills through formative feedback, (iii) manage lecturer workload, and (iv) build capacity so that e-assessment can become a mainstream component of mathematics courses, maximising its potential for an improved student learning experience.

The focus was on creating formative content that students transitioning from second level found engaging and user-friendly on a simple intuitive platform that facilitated progress. This was achieved, by using the freely available NUMBAS e-assessment tool developed by mathematicians at the University of Newcastle. An integral part of this project was a rigorous evaluation of the impact of the content on student engagement and performance. This project has the potential to have a wider impact beyond mathematics into the broader STEM area, and to courses on offer across all disciplines.

The language of mathematics, its particular symbols, syntax and formatting, presents unique challenges in an e-learning environment. Online resources can appear static or dated. The human-computer interface (HCI) can compound students’ difficulty with mathematics if the interface does not ‘understand’ or cannot interpret students’ responses. It is only recently that these difficulties have begun to be overcome, and NUMBAS has the ability to integrate with most institutional online learning platforms including the Blackboard platform. Furthermore, this facilitates integration of exercise sheets / in-class tests with grade management capabilities of these platforms. As such, it is an ideal platform on which to build formative e-assessment content especially suited, in the first instance, to entry-level mathematics courses at CIT and UCC.

For further information on this project, please contact Tom Carroll on: 021 490 5811 or email:

Project Team: 
Dr Tom Carroll, School of Mathematical Sciences
Kieran Mulchrone, School of Mathematical Sciences

Cork Institute of Technology

National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education; Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund 2014 (Building Digital Capacity)

January 2015 - December 2016

Office of the VP for Learning and Teaching

Oifig an Leasuachtaráin Foghlama agus Teagaisc

East Wing, Main Quadrangle, UCC