Here I attempt to write the abstract for my thesis, ‘A Partially-automated Approach to the Assessment of Mathematics in Higher Education’, “using only the ten hundred words people use the most often“.
Katie Steckles pointed out via the latest Carnival of Mathematics that quantum computer scientist Scott Aaronson posted an explanation of his research using only the 1000 most common words in English, inspired by the xkcd comic ‘Up-Goer Five‘, which did the same for a labelled diagram of the Saturn V rocket (the ‘Up-Goer Five’). Scott’s post links to The Up-Goer Five text editor, a fabulous innovation that allows typing in a box and highlights when a word isn’t on the same list of words used in the xkcd diagram. I used this to write a version of my thesis abstract. Beyond what the text editor wanted, I also voluntarily adjusted some terms that are on the list, but presumably not in the way I mean them. Particularly, ‘deep learning’ and ‘open-ended questions’ didn’t get highlighted. I’ve gone for a fairly close, word-by-word translation, though clearly some parts could be rewritten completely to be clearer.
My thesis abstract (the version I handed in) is in a previous blog post, if you want to view it for comparison. Here’s my Up-Goer Five version.
Asking questions on big school numbers and stuff using computers is studied by reading lots of books and papers and asking questions of people who do it, and looked at along with other approaches to asking questions on numbers and stuff usually used in big school in my land. Asking questions using computers offers some good points over other approaches, like changing numbers in questions using chance allows asking different questions for each person, but it means that things can be asked in fewer areas because the computers can not mark everything.
An approach is suggested that uses computers a bit in which approaches like asking questions using computers are used to ask different questions for each person, which are taken and marked by hand. This approach is used in a big school numbers and stuff bit of schooling. The bit of schooling uses sets of questions that are different for each person when doing group work to attempt to give different numbers of marks to students who have done the bit of schooling more or less well than other students. The approach that uses computers a bit is used as a way to lower the chance of one student looking at the work done by another and writing theirs the same, instead of watching students write their answers or asking the questions completely using computers.
Seeing whether it worked by having someone else mark the work as well suggests that the approach could be used to make a set of questions that: are marked the same whether I am doing the marking or someone else is; and, that mean that I can tell whether the students have learned what I wanted them to learn. Seeing whether it worked by asking students what they think and looking at the marks I gave them for the work leads to the idea that sometimes one student does look at the work done by another and writes theirs the same at big school, that this might have happened with this piece of work, but was not in fact a problem in this case.
I suggest you add the approach that uses computers a bit to the other ways you know of asking questions on numbers and stuff at big school, especially in cases where asking questions carries a high chance of one student looking at the work done by another and writing theirs the same but the need for questions which students could take in different directions or where they learn more makes watching students write their answers or asking the questions completely using computers less perfect.