Project Quantum: tests worth teaching to

last edited Mar 17 2017 by Miles Berry | Created by Simon Peyton Jones | Other contributors: Miles Berry and Cynthia Selby

Project Quantum: tests worth teaching to


Project Quantum

Project Quantum will help computing teachers check their students’ understanding, and support their progress, by providing free access to an online assessment system. The assessments will be formative, automatically marked, of high quality, and will support teaching by guiding content, measuring progress, and identifying misconceptions.

Teachers will be able to direct pupils to specific quizzes and their pupils’ responses can be analysed to inform future teaching. Teachers can write questions themselves, and can create quizzes using their own questions or questions drawn from the question bank. A significant outcome is the crowd-sourced quality-checked question bank itself, and the subsequent anonymised analysis of the pupils’ responses to identify common misconceptions.

Here’s a white paper that describes the project in more detail. The questions and quizzes are available on the Diagnostic Questions site (free registration required).

Some videos

Key features of Quantum

  • Quantum should save you work, by allowing you to use a bank of high-quality, machine-marked assessment items for computing.
  • The focus is on low-stakes formative assessment (assessment for learning), not high-stakes summative assessment.
  • We aim to cover the whole computing curriculum (not just computer science), and to cover both primary and secondary.
  • The questions are crowd-sourced. You can write them yourself, and use the ones you have written. You can also use questions written by others (there will be a lot of them), and any questions you write will be available to others.
  • It’s all free. Using the platform to author and administer tests is free. The questions themselves will be made available, in machine readable form, to other platforms.
  • We are hitting the ground running. Our technology partner Diagnostic Questions already has a crowd-sourced multiple-choice-questions assessment platform, with some rather cool features. We are busy seeding it with questions donated from various helpful partners (TLM, OCR, Bebras, etc). You can start using it today for your own tests and questions.

Quality is key. How do we know that the questions in the system are any good? The exciting thing about Quantum is that it’s a collaboration between leading experts in assessment (Cambridge Assessment, Durham Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring) and subject experts (CAS, Naace), plus our technology partner Diagnostic Questions. CEM has lots of ideas for how to use data from thousands of students taking thousands of questions to identify which questions work well and which do not. There are serious research questions here – no one has done this before – but no one is better placed to do this than CEM and CA.

The CAS team

On the CAS end, our content advisory group consists of

  • Miles Berry
  • Cynthia Selby
  • Richard Forster
  • Chris Roffey
  • Tim Scratcherd
  • John Woollard

Quantum is generously funded for two years, by no-strings-attached grants from ARM, Google, and Microsoft. Without them it could not have happened. Thank you!

Status reports

Other relevant assessment projects

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