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Automated Grading of Excel Workbooks Using Matlab

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Assessment I: Developing Assessment Tools

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

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Paper Authors


Curtis Cohenour Ph.D., P. E. Ohio University

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Dr. Cohenour is an Assistant Professor in the Ohio University Engineering Technology and Management Department, in Athens, Ohio. He received a Bachelor of Science degree from West Virginia Institute of Technology in 1980, a Master of Science degree from Ohio University in 1988, and a Ph. D. in Electrical Engineering from Ohio University in 2009. He is a registered professional engineer in West Virginia, and Ohio.

Dr. Cohenour has worked in Industry as an electrical engineer and project manager. He joined Ohio University in 2002 as a research engineer working for the Ohio University Avionics Engineering Center. He has worked on projects covering a wide variety of avionics and navigation systems such as, the Instrument Landing System (ILS), Microwave Landing System (MLS), Distance Measuring Equipment (DME), LAAS, WAAS, and GPS.

His recent work has included research with the Air Force Research Laboratory in Dayton, Ohio, aimed at understanding and correcting image geo-registration errors from a number of airborne platforms.

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Audra Hilterbran Ohio University

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Audra Hilterbran is an instructional technologist in the Russ College of Engineering and Technology at Ohio University, Athens, Ohio. She works with faculty to design and redesign courses through best practices in technology integration. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Instructional Technology. Her background is in Applied Linguistics and English as a Second Language (ESL) instruction. She also teaches courses in Computer Assisted Language Learning. Her research interests include learning aptitudes, usability testing, and the facilitation of classroom communication.

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This evidence based practice paper describes a means to grade Excel Workbooks using ActiveX Com controls in Matlab®. The automated Excel grader frees the instructor or teaching assistant for instructional efforts with a greater impact on student outcomes. The Benchmark Series Excel 2013 text is used. The text provides a starting workbook, and step by step instruction for the student to modify the workbook using the features of Microsoft Excel. This text works well with application oriented students. A single chapter of the Benchmark text requires 2.5 minutes just too manually open and close all of the files for one student. Grading 70 students, allowing 15 minutes per student would require 17.5 hours. The Matlab® grader can perform detailed grading of the same files with just a few minutes of set up time. The automated grader compares each cell of the student’s workbook submission with the master workbook to compute the number of correct answers. The number of possible correct answers is determined by comparing the master workbook with the starting workbook. This process is repeated for multiple sheets in multiple workbooks to compute the student’s grade. In addition printouts in PDF format can be checked for inclusion in the grade. The student receives an email with his or her grade and a detailed list of errors with the cell location of the error. Without automated grading the bulk of the assessment would be based on periodic exams that may allow a student to get so far behind that he or she cannot recover. With automated grading the student receives immediate and detailed feedback on each chapter. This paper addresses numerous issues with the development of the grader, the impact on student outcomes, and additional work to be done.

Cohenour, C., & Hilterbran, A. (2016, June), Automated Grading of Excel Workbooks Using Matlab Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26352

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