Motivating principles

Page status: Outline

This is a rough outline of an article. It might not use full sentences everywhere and probably won’t make much sense at the moment.

These are the motivating principles behind Numbas.


  • Find common patterns in question authoring, and come up with the right level of abstraction to accommodate them.

  • Where possible, provide the author with choices rather than requiring scripting.

  • Allow rapid iteration - show the consequences of an editing action immediately.

  • Allow extension.

  • Low barrier to entry.


  • Initially summative, replacing handwritten homework, then formative (in maths)

  • Persistent demand for e-assessment in service courses. They’re seen as easier to assess, because there’s less demand on deep understanding.

  • In maths, trying to move to exploration - not really assessment at all.

  • Is the printed worksheet theme under-used?

  • In labs, for recording measurements and assessing calculations.