Supporting tutors with their feedback using OpenMentor in three different UK Universities

Whitelock, Denise; Gilbert, Lester; Hatzipanagos, Stylianos; Watt, Stuart; Zhang, Pei; Gillary, Paul and Sauedo, Alejandra (2012). Supporting tutors with their feedback using OpenMentor in three different UK Universities. In: CBLIS 2012 (10th International Conference on Computer Based Learning in Science): Learning Science in the Society of Computers, 26-29 Jun 2012, Barcelona, Spain.



Assessment has been identified as one of the major challenges faced by Higher Education Institutions (Whitelock, et al, 2007). As a response to the challenge, in a project funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) the Open University developed Open Mentor (OM), a learning support tool for tutors to help them reflect on the quality of feedback given to their students on assignments submitted electronically. It was developed on the fundamental theory that there was convincing evidence of systematic connections between different types of tutor comments and the level of attainment in an assignment (Whitelock et al 2004).
The work initiated by the Open University is being continued at the University of Southampton and King’s College London through the JISC-funded Open Mentor technology transfer (OMtetra) project. OMtetra aims at taking up OM and extend its uses by developing the system further and ultimately offer better support to tutors and students in the assessment process.
The findings to date from the preliminary testing suggest that changes are required to the algorithm used in the analysis of feedback comments together with the introduction of a module for user authentication that would facilitate integration within any university system. In addition, changes to the types of assignments processed by OM have been also suggested by tutors who assess marked assignments as well as essays written by post-graduate students which do not necessarily need to have a mark but require complex feedback that allow students to enhance academic writing skills.
OMtetra is an on-going project with high potential. We believe that the tools that result from the development and trial implementations of OM will contribute highly to the area of assessment and feedback in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) since it is an open source tool that will have wider applicability through the customisation process that is currently being undertaken.

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