Computer Assisted Assessment and The Role it Plays in Educational Decision-Making and Educational Justice: A Case Study of One Teacher Training College in Zimbabwe
Although the use of computers in data-driven decision making in education was initially focused on education’s core business i.e. computer aided learning (CAL), educational leaders are now using this approach to transform other aspects of their operations e.g. computer-assisted assessment (CAA). The full potential of CAA has yet to be realized and its implementation within higher education can be fraught with difficulties. This paper draws on a research that was carried out in one teachers’ college in Zimbabwe. The main aim was to engage with the final grading system used on the teaching practice phase of a group of 600 newly qualified teachers with a view of identifying how the computer was being used to allow humans to benefit from machine decision-making without losing the opportunity for rational thought. This was driven by a sincere conviction that better data-driven decisions in education benefit everyone, including the learners, teachers, administrators, patrons, taxpayers and the state. The researcher employed an approach commonly used in IT, which is called Data Mining. The findings seem to point to a grading system which is using a computer more as a data capture and calculation instrument without questioning the moral argument for letting the computer decide. Such a grading system has potential for loss of human autonomy and for being unfair to the subjects.