Biblio >> TEAM; Informing the future of technologies in health and science practical assessment

TEAM; Informing the future of technologies in health and science practical assessment

TitleTEAM; Informing the future of technologies in health and science practical assessment
Publication TypeConference Paper
AuthorsBree RT, Antropova O, Healy E, Maguire M, Faller D, Harding N, Mulvihill A, Brazil D, Dowling D, Kavanagh Y, Noonan G, Akande A, Doyle D, Bird J
Conference NameEdTech 2018; TEL Quality Matters - People, Policies and Practices. June 2018, IT Carlow.
Date Published06/2018
PublisherIrish Learning Technology Association
Conference LocationIT Carlow

Assessment in practical sessions, a critical student learning environment in science and health disciplines, has not advanced at the same pace as classroom assessment. While aspects of assessment and feedback have transformed our classroom teachings, this has often not translated to the practical environment.  In science and health, the practical plays a critical role in how students apply theory in to practice with a focus on developing ‘hands-on’ approaches and life-long skills needed in their relative disciplines.  Ultimately, the practical represents an environment whereby students engage for example in group work, academic writing, formative assessments, group discussions, laboratory and clinical skill development, data interpretation and analysis and feedback.  Hence, with this suite of learning opportunities, it is vital the practical receives the attention it merits. 

Here we outline the TEAM research project, which focused on Technology Enhanced Assessment Methods (TEAM) in science and health practical settings.  Our aim was to develop a framework centred on the introduction of technology-based assessment and feedback strategies in practicals to engage and facilitate student learning, in addition to improving dialogue amongst stakeholders.  A core stakeholder network, consisting of Heads of School, discipline-specific academic staff, employers and students was initially established.  The project was informed by a literature review and a baseline analysis approach with each of our project stakeholders. From this analysis, four priority areas for intervention were identified: (i) Pre-practical preparation (videos, quizzes), (ii) Electronic laboratory notebooks and ePortfolios, (iii) Digital Feedback and (iv) Rubrics. As part of the project across the partner colleges, 41 academic staff volunteered to participate in 42 technology-based pilots for practical assessment.  These technology pilots engaged almost 1600 students. 

The pilot implementation process, complemented by student and staff evaluations, have provided an insight to the role of assessment, technologies and feedback in the science and health practical environment.  The implementation of these technology-based approaches can have a significant and positive impact on producing graduates who are ‘workplace ready’ with an emphasis on developing practical skills and student motivation. This is essential as it is widely recognised that assessment and feedback choices can influence student learning, effort and engagement.

Here, we will present an overview of the project’s key findings coming from the staff and students including details on their experiences of participating in TEAM.  Students appear to favour the introduction of such technologies, with 85% of the student responses stating they would like to see technology based assessment in other modules while 80% rated their TEAM pilot experience as Excellent/Good.  Academic staff identified many teaching enabling aspects, recognising a significant impact on student learning in areas such as feedback, collaboration, employability and empowerment – with similar findings echoed by the students.  We will also outline the advantages, limitations and recommendations, collected from both students and staff, for establishing such assessment formats in practicals.

This 2-year project has been funded and supported by the National Forum and involved four partner colleges; Dundalk Institute of Technology with partners from Institute of Technology (IoT) Carlow, IoT Sligo and Athlone IoT.