SMART: Supporting MATLAB Automated assessment to Reinforce Teaching

Lead name:
Alan Irving
Collaborating Institutions:
Cogent, Liverpool John Moores University, University of Bolton, Queen's University Belfast
Funding call:
Programme contact:
National HE STEM Programme
The Department of Mathematical Sciences at the Liverpool University is setting up a new computational methods module to apply various mathematical methods to problems encountered in engineering analysis using the industry-standard programming environment MATLAB. There will be approximately 250 students on the module and the Department wishes to maintain high teaching standards by setting regular coursework which involves hands-on programming experience and provides regular feedback which is timely and results in feed-forward (where students learn from their assessment and improve their programming before the next submission). This will be achieved by adopting a system developed at Loughborough University to automate the marking of students. MATLAB scripts and provide individual and timely feedback. To date this has been successfully applied in three Loughborough engineering departments. As MATLAB is the programming tool of choice in industry, taught by many science and eningeering departments, the impact of this project could be wide-reaching through transfer across the STEM disciplines, which would be achieved by thorough documentation of the transfer process, developing an approach to address discipline specific issues, ensuring that the transferred assessment code was easily adaptable, dissemination through the HE STEM programme, and HEA Engineering and MSOR Subject Centres.
Project Aims

To transfer existing good practice in the teaching and assessment of large cohorts of students taking computational methods modules from Loughborough University to the University of Liverpool





  • To develop a broader STEM community where academics can share expertise and feedback to the project.
Project Objectives
  • To apply the Loughborough University system of automated MATLAB assessment in engineering to a new computational methods module in mathematics at Liverpool which will enhance the quality of the students’ learning experiences through enabling individual feedback to be given to large cohorts of students in a much shorter time than was previously possible at Liverpool
  • To produce guidelines on setting MATLAB programming coursework that engages students.
  • To evaluate student experiences and perceptions after completing the new module. This will form the basis of the required interim short report.
  • To produce a MATLAB toolkit that would provide a set of generic tools for the analysis and marking of programming structures within MATLAB so that it can be easily applied in different universities and disciplines.
  • To document the transfer process as a case study report for the project so that it can be applied elsewhere.
  • To feedback to Loughborough any lessons learned in the application of the system at Liverpool
  • To apply for and establish a Special Interest Group (SIG) through the HE Academy Subject Centres to gather and disseminate expertise across the sector and start to build an interested community. To disseminate findings through the IMA and Royal Academy of Engineering HE STEM programme partners.
  • To promote the outputs through open educational resource channels (e.g. JORUM Open) to encourage input and feedback from international colleagues.