How the BibleOL can take over your Hebrew examinations and student grading

The BibleOL has received significant updates through the last years. The site is available in different languages (English, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Danish), the implemented Hebrew ETCBC database has been enriched with new verbal tenses (cohortative, jussive, emphatic imperative), and verbal classes (I-Aleph, I-Nun, II-Waw/Yod, III-Hey, etc.) have been added. In 2016 a new BibleOL research project has been launched and funded by Andrews University. Two major goals are pursued. On the linguistic side of the project MQL queries are written to detect all ambiguous verbal forms in the Hebrew ETCBC database. E.g. the form tiqqah is either analyzed as 2sgM-Yiqtol/Impf-Qal form (Gen 7:2) or as a 3sgF-Yiqtol/Impf-Qal form (Gen 38:23). While they are graphically the same, the morphological interpretation is disambiguated in the ETCBC database based on syntactical observations (congruence between an explicit subject and its predicate) or contextual information. However, often clauses do not contain explicit subjects and at times a lot of contextual information must be provided before a successful disambiguation can be carried out. In addition, at times, databases consult advanced knowledge of Hebrew grammar and insights form comparative linguistic studies in order to settle specific morphological interpretations. In Jer 2:20, for example, the form shavarti is not analyzed as 1sgC-Qtl/Perf-Qal forms but as 2sgF-Qtl/Perf-Qal. In this case the form is seen as having an archaic 2sgF i ending. Consequently, when a Hebrew database is brought from a research environment to a learning environment inevitable problems arise: How can a student be able to analyze the form tiqqah or shavarti correctly, if his/her paradigmatic knowledge cannot disambiguate the form? Thus, our research project works on enriching all potentially ambiguous forms with alternative morphological interpretations that correspond with student’s paradigmatic knowledge. This allows BibleOL to accept different answers of students as correct as long as they make paradigmatically sense. Unless this problem is solved, BibleOL cannot be used for official examinations where grades are determined based on right and wrong answers. This brings us to the programming side of the project. The aim is to produce an advanced examination mode for BibleOL in which language instructors can define the difficulty level, and the knowledge fields (e.g. vocab, morphology, syntax) that the student is to encounter in his/her exam. For the instructor, this would mean (a) that he/she does not regularly have to write new exams. Once a BibleOL exam has been put together, BibleOL will create its own set of questions and texts in accordance with the instructor’s defined difficulty level and knowledge fields. This creation will take place each time the exam is used. Thus, no student should every get the same exam, but all students will be exposed to the same predefined difficulty level. In addition, it means (b) that the instructor does not have to spend any time on grading exams anymore. Once the instructor has defined a grading key, BibleOL will use that key for automatic grading. In my presentation, I intend to demonstrate and discuss the new Exam Mode.