Over the last few decades, new education forms have increased the student-to-lecturer ratios, as an example, the open education. Arnold regards the Massive Open Online Courses MOOCs as the best example to illustrate the issue of effectively assessing thousands of students enrolled in these courses each semester.
Considering the assessment as an integral part of the learning process Ehlers , we can also transform this fact to learning systems and automated assessment. There is a major agreement that automated assessment systems are really motivating. They summarize that automated assessment can also make grading more consistent and objective. This fact has resulted in an increasing effort to develop automated grading systems in order to achieve these objectives. In this paper, we present a novel approach for assessing IT skills automatically.
Then, our approach is illustrated by a grading system for the case of assessing Word processing skills. The automated assessment system, we describe in this paper, is a part of a framework to assess Office skills that we currently design and develop. The history of e-assessment goes back to the s Mohammad and Gutl However, a few attempts have led to sufficient grading systems for automated assessment of IT skills, especially for Office skills Kovacic and Green despite the significant need identified.
In general, there are two strategies for automated assessment of Office skills Zhu and Shen ; Tang and Chen The first strategy applies the trace analysis technique. It records the operating steps of the users, for example by using the macro recording function of Microsoft Office. Another example addresses the construction of a simulation system, which is considered as a large project and has as drawbacks the difficulty of updating the software, the consideration of the environmental constraints, as well as the poor adaptability.
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Dowsing proposed a system that performs a comparison between the stream of actions done by the candidate and the correct stream of actions extracted from the model event stream of the teacher. This strategy has been frequently implemented in contrast to the first strategy Zhu and Shen ; Tang and Chen In the first category, assessment systems use the VBA technology, which is a version of the Visual Basic language included in Microsoft Office.
VBA enables the user to design routines that will run in the background in order to respond to events such as opening a form or clicking a command button Herbadji In addition, the VBA technology allows an easiness of communication with Office programs.
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According to the literature review, most of the developed assessment systems for Office applications rely on the VBA technology Koike et al. For example, Koike et al. The systems mark student files according to a grading criteria set given by the instructors. The system for Word files checks page settings, paragraphs, indents, figures, tables, fonts, colors, texts, and so on. The system can be applied to check whether the students correctly understand how to use each feature of Microsoft Office Word.
Similarly, for Excel files, the system can be applied to check whether students understand how to use each feature of Microsoft Office Excel. Both systems highlight errors and students get feedback on their work through messages. Systems in this category are not flexible to modify or add new questions.
They require VBA programming abilities as confirmed by Tuparova and Tuparov who advanced such systems by proposing a real-live performance-based assessment tool using VBA and allowing for an effective interaction with the teacher. Concerning the second category in Fig. It is used to enable software components to communicate with each other and serves as a basis for many systems Zhu and Shen ; Hunt et al.
For example, Zhu and Shen present a framework implementation of automated assessment for Office applications. The system stores the required IT skills in a database table and invokes a series of methods through the COM interface provided. Zhu and Shen argue that using the COM technology results in the problem of a complete analysis of the Office object library.
Viewed this way, this technology shows limitations and does not supply assessment for all skills. Recently, Roshan et al.
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Their main goal is to automatically assess the stylistic and technical correctness of Office documents as well as some basic IT skills, such as e-mail netiquette and e-mail list usage. It also has an XML configuration file which represents the requirements of the assignments. This file contains the required style information for Word processing and presentations and further checkable items, such as Bold and Page numbering skills.
As output, the Parsi Tool returns a grade from 1 to 5. The teacher may intervene when the tool cannot check properly, by updating and testing the checking functions. According to Fig. Dowsing and Long set a milestone for latter works on the assessment of Word processing skills being pioneers in this domain since They exploited AI techniques to assess the produced Word documents.
The software developed to assess Word processing skills is a part of a project to assess other IT skills by a computer. Also, Long et al. This latter feature of Microsoft Office Word allows systems to merge documents to identify differences between them. Thus, the document of the correct version of the assignment given by the instructor is merged with the document produced by the student, and the differences are then recorded in a Microsoft Office Access table.
The Word Grader counts obtained errors and embeds a grade report in the marked-up document. Although the reviewed systems provide an authentic assessment, most of them lack flexibility in allowing teachers to customize exams by modifying questions or adding new ones, and defining their own grading criteria.
After the thorough investigation of the state of the art in Office assessment systems, we argue that most of the examined systems implement the VBA technology, obviously, due to its inherent capability to build and communicate with Microsoft Office applications. However, it provides limited options for adapting the assessment process like modifying questions, which requires VBA programming skills by the teacher. A further drawback of the systems observed is the missing option for a human intervention in ambiguous and difficult assessment cases.
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Against this background, we focus on the XML format and its related technologies in the following. The main idea of our approach is to provide and popularize a simplistic Fully Automated Assessment Approach F3A for Office skills through a standard representation using the XML format see below. A significant amount of XML related tools e. It represents a textual, not binary format.
Thus, it easily supports the extraction of useful information from documents. They can be used by programmers to verify each piece of an item content in a document. Derived from these explanations, the next subsection provides insights on our XML-based approach to an automated assessment system. As mentioned above, we strongly refer to the potential of XML and related technologies. At this step, all of the entries have to be transformed to the XML format.
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According to the application needs, the transformed entries are parsed to get their tree structure. This step can also perform some cleaning tasks to get more readable XML trees consistent with the required skills. While each event or action of any IT function can be stored in the XML representation for example, producing Word or spreadsheet document, preparing PowerPoint presentation, system configuration, etc. Each skill is described by a path expression. One can consider this step as a tree pattern matching task.
According to the results of the similarity measurement provided by the previous step, a grade will be accredited for each skill, following the predefined grading criteria. In addition, a feedback is provided for a no performed skill. Following the description of the F3A processes, the next subsection deals with the F3A applicability and its possible generalization to Office skills and other knowledge domains. The explanations provided in the previous subsections confirm the valuability of the XML-based approach toward its built-in generalization potential for the assessment of any IT skills with regard to Office programs, such as spreadsheets and PowerPoint.
Since the starting point of this research is to compare two XML documents, and in addition, all Office programs can be saved in the XML format, it is evidently possible to customize automated assessment systems to fit to the assessment of further Office skills. Moreover, this methodology can be also applied to any other IT skills, such as system configuration for example. Moreover, it can be applied to any other domain, when it is possible to capture or transform answers in an XML format.
Thus, the final user is free to customize the DTD according to the assessment requirements. Facing the generalization opportunity for the F3A approach that targets at the most used business and education application, the Office Suite, the next section presents the performance evaluation of the described F3A approach and offers discussion of the results achieved.
In order to measure the performance of the XML-based approach, we apply it in a real-life exam, moreover, in such a way that the scenario can be closely mapped onto open learning requirements to fulfill informal learning needs.
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Due to the wide usage of Microsoft Word applications, we especially target at the assessment of Word processing skills. There are two ways to assess those skills. And since open learning environments are driven by online solutions, the produced documents for the assessment are submitted online.
Toward the online adoption, the implemented algorithms of the system teacher Graphical User Interface GUI , extraction, and grading modules are realized with Java for a fast prototyping and easy interoperability with XML tools. In the following, the explanations provide details on the system developed, the sample used to evaluate its performances, as well as the results achieved. The objects in the DOM tree are addressed and manipulated by applying methods on the objects.
Cleaning empty elements: An empty element could be an empty paragraph, where all tags with their attributes but no text can be found. Obviously, it is needless to treat this empty element, so it is removed. A mark is assigned to each existing Word processing skill according to its similarity with the required one. As mentioned above, a feedback is offered when students are not performing skills. The detailed explanation of the system step by step goes hand-in-hand with the targeted IT skills presented in the next subsection. Evaluating these skills provides information about the student level of Word processing abilities.
The evaluation procedure applied and the results are discussed in the following subsections. This book shows you why the Macro recorded fails and the steps needed to convert recorded code into code that will work every day with every dataset. The book assumes tha This book is not as much about reading as it is about seeing and doing! That's why we call it a kit. Full-color pages show you exactly how your slides will look as yo Microsoft Office Access VBA builds on the skills you've already developed in creating database applications and help you take them to the next level, using Visua This Book is an insider look at what PowerPoint can do, written by two guys who have worked at Microsoft on the product itself.
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