Educake for Science – self-marking GCSE homework questions @educake

I’ve seen MyMaths in action and was impressed by the usefulness and flexibility of the package.  I wondered if there was a self-marking system for science.  The best tool I found was Educake which offers self-marking questions testing content from AQA Science.  The pricing structure is very reasonable and gives departments the opportunity to try the package before committing.

Getting students to register seems to be a little bit of a hurdle and is the one aspect of the site that requires improvement.  Students are provided with a link that lets them sign up and links their account to that of the school.  I used bitly to shorten this address to make it easier to distribute to students.  There is a requirement that students have an email address and that they use this to sign up.  In an ideal world the teacher would create the signups by importing a CSV from the school’s information management system like SIMS.  I could see a potential safeguarding issue if students signed up using a personal email address (as the site encourages) and then this is available to teachers through the student management pages.  Teachers can reset student passwords so the email address could easily be removed by a small amount of recoding.

Setting a test is quite easy (if you are familiar with AQA topics from the specification) and questions are graded in three levels of difficulty.  You can assign the tests to different groups of students and set a deadline if required.

The tests are a good idea but assume that students have fairly good literacy skills.  Further work to improve the accuracy of the marking algorithms would stop errors like evaporate being refused where the system was looking for evaporation (although I can accept this would depend on how the question was worded).

Statistics are available at the end that show how the students have done, and give you an idea of areas that you might need to revisit.  The ability to export results is available in paid versions of the website.

I’ve enjoyed using Educake and my students have too (despite the initial teething troubles).  I look forward to continuing to use it over the rest of the year and will post updates as it develops and improves.


5 replies on “Educake for Science – self-marking GCSE homework questions @educake”

  1. Thank you very much for taking the time to review Educake. We are a new business, and such positive criticism is really helpful to us.

    I’d like to respond to some of the points you raised in your review.

    1) I’m glad you mentioned bulk importing students with CSV files. We have been working on this over the last two weeks, and it is now finished. Schools can now upload all their students in one go.

    2) As you suggested, we have changed the student management pages so that teachers can no longer see the students’ email addresses. We still need the email addresses, for secure password changes and to tell them about new tests, but this way they won’t be visible to teachers.

    3) The marking is quite strict, because we want students to focus on the literacy skills, as well as science. Questions need to be read carefully, which we think is good practice for the exam. Having said that, we are changing it so that teachers can see any questions where students have disagreed with the marking, and then change the mark.

    Educake is now available for OCR Gateway as well as AQA. A version for Cambridge IGCSE is nearly complete, and we are working on Edexcel GCSE also.

    We are always working on improvements suggested by teachers using Educake. We’ll keep doing this as fast as we can.

    I’d be very interested to hear from any other teachers using Educake. We are a new business, but looking to improve all the time.

    Charley Darbishire

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