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ISI to automate exam check

The main objective is to make the exam system free of “biased” marking

By Mita Mukherjee in Calcutta
  • Published 15.11.19, 1:04 AM
  • Updated 15.11.19, 1:04 AM
  • 2 mins read
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Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) www.isical.ac.in

The Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) is devising a system using artificial intelligence and technology based on machine learning that will automate evaluation of students’ answer scripts.

Students will have to write answers on tablets instead of papers using a special type of pen. The answers will automatically get stored in a remote system. The assessment of the papers will be done automatically, Umapada Pal, professor and head of the ISI’s computer vision and pattern recognition unit, said.

The system will be programmed to analyse subjective questions like essay writing in language papers, where a student’s creative writing skills are assessed.

Answers will be analysed the same way teachers do it now while correcting answer scripts.

Board examiners are now provided with model answers to help them in the evaluation. They are told to observe certain words and points in answers. Students whose answers have all the points and words get full marks. “The system will assess the answers the same way,” Pal said.

A two-day workshop on machine learning and its application to pattern recognition started at the ISI on Thursday.

The ISI, in collaboration with the University of Technology, Sydney, is conducting research using artificial intelligence and machine learning. This and the work on automated evaluation of answer scripts are among the topics to be discussed at the workshop.

A joint research hub for University of Technology and ISI scientists was inaugurated at the BT Road institute by Australian consul general Andrew Ford on Thursday.

“We need to use artificial intelligence, machine learning and natural language processing to evaluate answer scripts,” Pal said. “Evaluating descriptive answers is a challenging task because of various handwriting styles.”

One of the main objectives behind such a move is to make the examination system free of “biased” marking. Hastening the result publication process is another objective.

The system will ensure students get marks they deserve for every answer.

“There have been instances of examiners leaving out an answer by mistake while correcting papers. Students do not get marked in that particular question.... These can be avoided in the system,” an ISI official said.

Also, more teachers can be used for teaching as not many would be needed for evaluation in the new system, the official said.

Many teachers, however, said they were worried that such a system could make them “redundant”.

“Participation in the evaluation process is one of the most important duties of teachers... it helps improve their teaching skills. They should not be kept away from the evaluation process,” a Madhyamik head examiner said.