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Do Visualizations Ease Dissertation Assessment?

By Judy Van Biljon and Karen Renaud

Abstract

South Africa is working hard to improve the education levels of all their citizens, and, as a consequence, many South African Universities have seen an impressive increase in the number of postgraduate students. On the other hand, South African Universities have not been able to employ experienced supervisors at the same rate. Given the increasing workload, examiners struggle to maintain their own high standards of consistency, accuracy and fairness. Assessing dissertations requires a serial traversal from beginning to end, sometimes repeatedly, since words are an imprecise communication tool and writing ability variable. Is there any way of making the process more efficient while retaining rigour? We cast the net wide to find a way, and, in doing so we noted the emerging use of visualization as a communication facilitator in other areas of academia and decided investigate it as a mechanism for easing the assessment process. As a first step, we need to determine the current extent of usage. Such usage is not incentivized nor is it explicitly rewarded. If we detect an impact on final grades, this will justify further investigation. We carried out a study that revealed weak correlations with the final grade, depending where the visualizations appeared and also consulted supervisors for their views. The contribution of this paper is to suggest a discourse on the deliberate deployment of visualization to ease postgraduate assessment.College of Engineering, Science and Technolog

Topics: Visualization, postgraduate assessment
Publisher: University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
Year: 2015
OAI identifier: oai:uir.unisa.ac.za:10500/19702

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