CALICO Journal, Vol 8, No 2 (1990)

Maximizing Intelligent Use Of Unintelligent Response Handling Devices

Jack L. Burston
Issued Date: 7 Aug 2014


While by design unintelligent, relaxed pattern matching devices and automatic mark-up algorithms can nonetheless be used intelligently to evaluate student responses in computer-based drill exercises. One of the most troublesome aspects of answer evaluation is the occurrence of minor orthographic discrepancies in replies. Relaxed pattern matching, the ability to ignore or otherwise neutralize irrelevant details, is essential to dealing with this kind of non-differential variation. To be maximally effective, however, its use requires considerable direct intervention in the answer judging process. Automatic pattern mark-up algorithms seek to alleviate the task of the courseware author by shifting the burden of error recognition onto the language learner. Though very easy to use, based as it is upon totally mechanical displays of formal deviations between input strings and template answers, pattern mark-up returns only the most rudimentary appraisal of mistakes. Despite their intrinsic limitations, combined under flexible programming control, these two response evaluation procedures are capable of satisfactorily overcoming the most nettlesome difficulties of answer judging. By allowing the systematic categorization of student input into fundamental reply types, as determined by relative degree of matching with canonical forms, they also provide the basis of meaningful feedback in tutorial CALL.

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DOI: 10.1558/cj.v8i2.77-90


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