Using language technologies to support individual formative feedback

Smithies, Alisdair; Braidman, Isobel; Berlanga, Adriana; Haley, Debra and Wild, Fridolin (2010). Using language technologies to support individual formative feedback. In: The 9th European Conference on e-Learning (ECEL 2010), 4-5 Nov 2010, Porto, Portugal.


In modern educational environments for group learning it is often challenging for tutors to provide timely individual formative feedback to learners. Taking the case of undergraduate Medicine, we have found that formative feedback is generally provided to learners on an ad-hoc basis, usually at the group, rather than individual, level. Consequently, conceptual issues for individuals often remain undetected until summative assessment. In many subject domains, learners will typically produce written materials to record their study activities. One way for tutors to diagnose conceptual development issues for an individual learner would be to analyse the contents of the learning materials they produce, which would be a significant undertaking.

CONSPECT is one of six core web-based services of the Language Technologies for Lifelong Learning (LTfLL) project. This European Union Framework 7-funded project seeks to make use of Language Technologies to provide semi-automated analysis of the large quantities of text generated by learners through the course of their learning. CONSPECT aims to provide formative feedback and monitoring of learners’ conceptual development. It uses a Natural Language Processing method, based on Latent Semantic Analysis, to compare learner materials to reference models generated from reference or learning materials.

This paper provides a summary of the service development alongside results from validation of Version 1.0 of the service.

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