Maple TA is an online web-based test system used by most of the first year courses and many higher year courses offered by the School of Mathematics and Statistics. We use Maple TA for both formative and summative assessments. For formative assessments and low-stakes summative assessments, students can work anywhere on their own device. We also run supervised Maple TA tests in our computer laboratories under supervision.
The Maple TA system is funded by the School of Mathematics and Statistics. All UNSW staff members can use the system for their courses by emailing a System Administrator, Darryl Lewis (email@example.com) or Jonathan Kress (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Creating a Maple TA Class. If your Maple user role is an instructor and creator, you can create a Maple TA class for assessments of a course and create users (students, proctors etc). If you want to reuse a class, you can transfer the assignments (Maple TA calls tests assignments) and questions from the class. Afterwards, the information of each assignment including availability date/time should be edited for the current class. For a new class created from scratch, we need to create new assignments and write or include questions from other classes of yours. Authors of questions may share their questions within an institution or the community of Maple TA users. You may also include these questions from classes in UNSW or from Maple Cloud.
For courses, which use Maple TA, offered by the School of Mathematics and Statistics, we usually include assignment named Declaration and Using Maple TA. The purpose of the Declaration is to ensure students accept the University/School rules and policies of assessments and students need to declare that the work is their own without accepting assistance from the others. Maple TA uses a computer algebra system called Maple for creating questions and grading. This gives a question creator to employ all powerful features of the application Maple, like graphs and other complicated mathematical structures. Questions can accept complicated mathematics expressions in a strict syntax or format as answers. Some important information of Maple TA system and the syntax of entering mathematical expression will be provided to students in a short document accompanying by the assignment Using Maple TA.
Usually, we set conditions on all other assignments that students must pass Declaration and Using Maple TA.
Running a Maple TA class. The creator of a class can opens the class for self-enrolment, or enrols students to the class. The creator may enrol other staff members as instructors to the class. For a supervised test class, the creator may enrol proctors. The test may be run or managed by instructors who can modify the availability date and time. Students must finish assignments in the respective availability date and time. If a student is satisfied with an attempt of an assignment, they can submit it. Unless restrictions are set, student can immediate check their marks and the details of their submission. If they have queries, they can contact the instructor. Instructors are expected to answer their queries; upgrade marks and extend deadlines when necessary.
After the due date of an assignment, instructors can download the marks of all the students who attempted the assignment in csv file. The marks can be further processed. We may also download the item statistics for analysing or improving the questions or the assignment.
Below are some screenshots showing you some examples of Maple TA questions:
- Wide range and varieties of question types;
- Powerful graphing and computational ability for creating questions;
- Allows creators to use random numbers to generate questions with the same stem but different numerical or mathematical expressions. In this case, different versions of the same questions will be generated for different students and different attempts;
- Creators can use commands of the computer algebra system Maple to design and write grading code of questions;
- Allows creators to create adaptive assignments to personalise student’s need;
- To an assignment, we can set the maximum number of attempts and time limit. We can allow additional attempts of add time to a few specific students when necessary;
- Restrictions can be set for starting an assignment. For example, we can set the condition that students must pass certain assignments before starting the current one;
- Creator of an assignment can provide feedback to the students during attempting an assignment and after the assignment is graded. During attempting an assignment, creator may provide hints, tell students their grade so far and/or allow students to check the correctness for an answer entered in an answer field;
- For a supervised test, we can restrict the test to be done using computers with specific IP addresses;
- Nice features for supervised e-exams: students are individually timed; Proctor screen (Full screen test window) can be used to block students from using other applications from the computer, and it can also block students from using the Internet during an e-exam;
- Questions of most of the question types can be automatically graded;
- Useful Gradebook features;
- Marks can be downloaded in csv format for further processing;
- Item statistics for each question in each assignment can be easily obtained and downloaded.
- Mathematical expression answers must be entered in specific syntax or format. Students should be trained enough for entering expressions in Maple syntax;
- It is very technical but not impossible to design questions using student’s answers of earlier parts of a question in subsequent parts. However, designer can go around this by breaking up long questions into shorter ones.
The best way to start is to enrol into a Maple TA class as a student and work through some of the assignments. A Maple TA class for you to enrol as a student is included in the Show Case section.
Contact a system administrator to get access Maple TA as an instructor and creator. Then start modifying and creating questions and assignments.
If you intend to use Maple TA for STEM courses, knowledge in Maple will be useful. You can access Maple via myAccess.
For documentation, Maplesoft provides a Maple TA online help web-site:
- Test newly created questions sufficiently before using them in an assignment;
- Do not compromise what you want to assess by the limitations of Maple TA;
- If your question pool is large enough or your questions contain algorithms which generate large number of different versions, you may create a practice version of the assignment which is the same or very similar to the assignment for marks. Students will return you feedback when they come across issues. You then can improve the questions. You may also remove questions based on the item statistics of the practice version;
- Problems may be caused by mistakes in the design of a question or an assignment. Problems may also be caused by IT issues which are out of your control. Make sure that students know where to get help. For issues of questions and assignments, they should contact the one who runs the tests. For technical problems, they should contact the IT personnel;
- Choose the due date and time which are best for the one who runs the tests and the students;
- Resources are finite, for instance, the number of students who can log on to Maple TA to attempt assignments are finite;
- There are always students who rush to finish an assignment in the last minutes.
A Maple TA class named Maple TA Exemplar has been created. If you have a current UNSW zpass, you can enrol yourself in this class and attempt the assignments as a student.
Note: The assignments in the Exemplar class do not including all varieties of questions and assignments. The objective is to give you some experiences of using Maple TA as a student.
Step 1: Use your UNSW zpass to log on to Maple TA via the following link: https://mapletap.telt.unsw.edu.au:8443/mapleta/
Step 2: Enrol to the Maple TA class Maple TA Exemplar.
After logged in, the following window will be opened:
Click Enroll in a Class. The classes available for self-enrolment will be listed. Check the box next to Maple TA Exemplar:
Then click Confirm.
You will in your Maple TA system homepage. You have successfully enrolled in the Maple TA Exemplar class. Click on the class name. You will enter the Maple TA Exemplar homepage:
Step 3: Attempt an assignment.
You must first attempt the assignment Declaration. The assignment is essentially asking you to make a declaration. All other assignments have the condition “has passed Declaration”.
For the other assignments, you can see a link Policies next to the assignment name. By clicking on this, a small window will pop up. The time limit if the assignment is a timed one, the passing scores if the instructor has set one and any conditions for attempting the assignment are listed in the window. It is important to check the policies before starting an assignment.
In general, students can attempt the assignment on any computers with internet access unless restrictions imposed. Student can start an assignment any time. However, once a student started a timed assignment, the clock will start ticking and it will not stop counting down.
Maple TA can accept answers which are complicated mathematical expressions. Such answers must be entered in the correct (Maple) syntax. There is a preview button for you to review the mathematical expression entered. The assignment “Using Maple TA” helps students to learn some of these limitations and restrictions.
After you passed the Declaration and Using Maple TA, you can attempt the other assignments. Creator of an assignments can choose an option to allow student to print the assignment. Sample test 2 in this class allows you to printable the assignment. You may work off-line and come back to enter the answers when you are ready. However, the graph section of the graphing question will not be printed out probably.
For an assignment with more than one question, students can navigate between adjacent questions using the “Next” or “Back” in the Assignment Navigation Bar of the test window:
You can jump to a specific question using “Question Menu”. If you use these three buttons to move from the current question to another question, the answers of the current question will be automatically saved. If you are satisfied with your attempt, you should click “Submit Assignment” and Maple TA will count it as one attempt. If you click “Quit & Save”, the behaviour of Maple TA depends on the setting of the assignment. If it is a timed assignment, the test time will still be ticking after you click ”Quit & Save”. If you click the test name (link) before the time is running out, you can resume the assignment. If the assignment is a Proctored exam, even if time remains, you need a proctor to authorise you to resume. If the assignment is a homework assignment with no time limit, you can resume the test by clicking the test name.
Step 4: Check your grade and review your results
After you submitted an assignment, you may be able to see your grade on the class homepage like the last screen shot of Step 2. If click on the marks of a certain assignment on the homepage, you will open a web page showing your grade of the assignment. You can also see the details of your attempt by clicking a link. Alternatively, you can view results of your past assignments in this Maple TA class by clicking the Gradebook pulldown menu on the homepage of the class.
If you want to further explore using Maple TA as an instructor, please email Chi Mak (email@example.com).