Assessment, feedback and technology were the main themes of this year’s Ottawa/ANZAHPE conference held in Perth. The heavily attended plenary sessions linked how these three topics drive learning.

There were great examples of new technologies that automate essay scoring using natural language processing and it will be exciting to follow progress in this area. We are getting to the point where human and machine marking are equitable, and where machines are actually more accurate. There was also software that supports the tagging of key discipline-based outcomes in lectures and examination questions giving insight into whether examinations are covering similar proportions of the topics covered in lectures.

In terms of feedback, David Boud and others highlighted that we need to set up quality relationships with our students to help them be receptive to the feedback we are giving them. When it’s given it should be:

  • Timely and regular, given at a point when students can actually do something about it;
  • Measurable, so that we are able to detect the effect of the feedback on student’s future work;
  • Clear, delivered in a way that is not misleading; and
  • Broken down into categories based on student performance and combined with information regarding the performance of their peers in the same categories.

Very much on topic, were presentations by Nalini Pather, Betty Kan and Stephanie Dowdell covering the use of Slice to provide feedback to learners and the use of the Smart Sparrow Platform to automate assessments. These presentations were well received with great interest in the idea of sharing resources through the BEST Network. Congratulations to Gary Velan, UNSW’s BEST Network representative, who was awarded an ANZAHPE Fellowship.

It was great to see so many BEST Network members at the conference and we welcome any new members.

A recording of Stephanie’s presentation on “Online Practical Examinations Using Adaptive Tutorial Technology” is available below.