School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences, The University of Queensland
Practical laboratory classes are an integral part of Science education, and are commonly assessed using in-class quizzes, recordkeeping notebooks, written reports, and oral presentations. These tasks primarily focus on student retention of theoretical knowledge as well as their written and oral communication skills, whereas explicit assessment of practical laboratory competencies is often under-represented. Rigorous assessment of practical skills typically requires direct one-on-one observation of the student within an authentic laboratory setting, which is difficult to implement in large courses. This project aimed to improve the scalability of practical skills assessment by developing a mobile application vMarks to provide video feedback on laboratory skills performance for individual students. Student enrolled in MICR2000 at The University of Queensland in 2014 and 2015 (n = 365 and 388 respectively) set up a series of microbiology laboratory experiments in an end of semester practical competency assessment. Using the mobile app vMarks, each of the experimental outcomes along with instructor feedback were recorded in a short one-minute video per student, graded on the spot using customizable online rubrics, and emailed to students directly. Learning analytics for student video-viewing behaviour revealed that the majority of students watched video feedback without pausing or scrubbing; video timestamps with high pausing and scrubbing activity correlated to specific experimental skills, providing instructors with insight into student engagement with feedback. This blended-learning approach presents a scalable way to assess laboratory skills in large undergraduate courses, and provides instructors with analytics on student engagement with feedback.