PP2.4

Technology Enhanced Assessment Methods (TEAM) in Science and Health Practical sessions: a progress report on an Irish multi-institutional initiative.

Ronan Bree1, Edel Healy1, Moira Maguire 1, Don Faller2, Nuala Harding2, Ann Mulvihill2, Dina Brazil3, David Dowling3, Yvonne Kavanagh3, Gina Noonan3, Akinlolu Akande4, David Doyle4, Jeremy Bird4
1Dundalk Institute of Technology, Dundalk, Co. Louth, Ireland, 2Athlone Institute of Technology, Athlone, Co. Westmeath, Ireland, 3Institute of Technology, Carlow, Carlow, Co. Carlow, Ireland, 4Institute of Technology, Sligo, Sligo, Co. Sligo, Ireland

This presentation reports progress on Technology Enhanced Assessment Methods (TEAM) in Science and Health Practical Settings, a 2 year Irish multi-institution enhancement project funded by the (Irish) National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education.  This project is explicitly concerned with the impact of technology on assessment in practical settings in Science and Health disciplines in four Irish Institutes of Technology.

The practical plays a key role in the development of technical/clinical, and soft skills in science and health disciplines.  For example, on the science programmes offered by the collaborating institutions, up to 50% of summative assessment may be based on practical work, particularly handwritten laboratory reports.  While practical assessment has considerable potential to enhance learning, evidence indicates that often this is not realised.  It is widely acknowledged that there is considerable scope for improvement in practical assessment practices at undergraduate level where concerns such as over assessment, surface approaches to material, authenticity and contribution to graduate skills are widely acknowledged (Bree et al., 2014.). The aim of this project is to enhance assessment and feedback in practical settings, using digital technologies.

The priority of the first phase of the project was to foster engagement by both staff, students and employers. Extensive consultations took place in all four institutions and these culminated in a one-day symposium that brought together students, lecturers and the programme team to collectively explore the issues and identify priorities.  The first phase of the project focused on Science programmes.  To date, 651 students across the 4 institutes responded to a survey of perceptions of practical classes and use of digital technology in same.  Findings showed that students valued practical sessions and were generally positive about assessment, although first-years were significantly more likely to endorse current laboratory report writing practices. While students had very positive attitudes towards using digital technologies in practical work and assessment, they had very little direct experience to date. On the basis of the student survey, feedback from the symposium and industry supported by a detailed review of the literature, 3 priority areas for intervention have been identified: (i) Pre-practical preparation (videos, quizzes, augmented reality), (ii) Electronic laboratory notebooks and ePortfolios, (iii) Feedback (digital technologies and rubrics).  Within each priority area, case-studies have been identified and are now commencing.  We will discuss the format of these case studies, the proposed evaluation framework and the next steps in the project.