E-Qual – new app to teach coding of qualitative data

E-Qual App ScreenshotThe aim of most undergraduate research methods courses is to introduce students to the theory and techniques associated with quantitative and qualitative research.

However, teaching such skills can be challenging, particularly when instructing large groups of students; the topics covered can be diverse and the subjective nature of qualitative coding can prove difficult for some students to comprehend.

E-Qual (see screenshot above) is a free interactive iPad app available on the App Store. Developed by Dr Hilary McDermott, it aims to address some of these challenges by demonstrating the basic concept of coding qualitative data.  In addition to an instructive screencast, students are provided with the opportunity to code a section of data themselves and compare their coding with that of the researcher. In using ‘E-Qual’ to support their independent learning and understanding of the thematic coding process, it is anticipated that students will be able to develop understanding and confidence in their analytic approach to handling qualitative data.  The app offers students a technology-supported learning environment to compliment the teaching of thematic qualitative coding which can be used at any time within any setting.

This teaching aid could potentially support thousands of students within the UK and elsewhere internationally. It offers an additional teaching and learning resource which will complement direct, face-to-face teaching of qualitative research methods across the Social Sciences.

E-Qual had initial seed funding from a University Teaching Innovation Award with further funding from the Enterprise Office.

Quick reference guide for staff on feedback

Focus on feedback

In this last blog post in ‘Focus On… Feedback’ month, Dr Valerie Pinfield, who is a lecturer in Chemical Engineering, shares her thinking on giving feedback to students.

I wanted to produce a quick-reference guide for staff to check the feedback that we/they are giving to students, and ensure that it has the effect of improving performance. I based the mnemonic on articles by Bright (2010) and Nicol and Macfarlane-Dick (2006) and on a resource by the University of Reading (2015). These articles do not provide a simple easily-accessed summary of what feedback should look like, so I compiled a list of keywords to construct the mnemonic below. Bear in mind that the resource was intended for staff in chemical engineering, so one of the elements is “technical” which may not apply in other subject areas.

ASPECTS reference cardf


Perhaps this easy guide to feedback could be of use in your own department? Any feedback on it will be welcome.

Bright, K (2010) Providing individual written feedback on formative and summative assessments. Higher Education Academy, UK Centre for Legal Education. Available at Accessed on 20/02/2015.

Nicol, D and Macfarlane-Dick (2006) Rethinking formative assessment in HE: a theoretical model and seven principles of good feedback practice, Higher Education Academy, Available at: http://www-new1.heacademy.ac.uk/assets/documents/assessment/web0015_rethinking_formative_assessment_in_he.pdf Accessed on 20/02/2015.

University of Reading (2015) Engage in Feedback, including Feedback Audit Tool. Available at http://www.reading.ac.uk/internal/engageinfeedback/efb-Home.aspx Accessed on 20/02/2015.

Feedback Research – CEDE

Focus on feedbackThree years ago, a number of Engineering Schools approached The Centre for Engineering and Design Education (CEDE), requesting the Centre’s help to unpick, from the students’ perspective, the assessment and feedback issues that were being highlighted by the National Student Survey (NSS).  Their goal was to identify what the School could do strategically to enhance further the quality of the feedback given to their students.  This research has led to two further follow on studies.  Together, the three studies explored a number of areas, including but not limited to:

  1. Undergraduate and taught post graduate student expectations of assessment and feedback and how these expectations may differ
  2. How students use the feedback they receive
  3. The factors that impede student use of feedback

This work, although based on research undertaken in the Engineering Schools at Loughborough University, has findings and outputs that may be of relevance to staff in Schools across campus.

A feedback digest was produced from the findings of the research and circulated to teaching staff in the participating Schools.  This resource provides advice on creating effective feedback and contains annotated examples of feedback that, from the student perspective, meet, exceed or fall below their expectations.  This resource may be found at http://eden-share.lboro.ac.uk/id/item/59/, please login first with your University Login at http://eden-share.lboro.ac.uk/ before clicking the preceding link.

Findings from the research have been presented at the HEA STEM Annual Learning and Teaching Conference 2013: Where practice and pedagogy meet which was hosted by the University of Birmingham from 17th to 18th April 2013. The paper is available here.  The most recent findings will be presented at the INTED2015 9th International Technology, Education and Development Conference which will take place in Madrid from the 2nd – 4th March 2015.

Key findings from the studies include:

  1. The NSS appears to be the first real opportunity for students to consider their overall feedback experience.
  2. Students recognise a variety of forms of feedback, not just individual written feedback.
  3. The provision of feedback in more than one form helps to raise the perceived standard of the feedback quality and has the potential to delight students.
  4. Postgraduate students look for the same things in feedback as undergraduates. However, they expect more from their feedback, of key importance is detail.
  5. Students do not always know how to use their feedback to feed forward effectively.
  6. The environment within which students receive their feedback is critical. In cultivating a positive feedback environment, consideration needs to be given to how (setting, timing, individual copies) feedback is returned to students.


CAP Forum Friday 6th Feb – Focus On Assessment

Focus on assessmentDate: Friday 6th February
Venue: BRI.2.08 – Bridgeman Building
Time: 14.00 – 16.00

Come and discuss assessment!


During January the Centre for Academic Practice (CAP) has been running a series of workshops and other activities focused on assessment. The CAP Forum, which will be the first in a regular series, will be an opportunity for any staff with an interest in assessment to share ideas and experiences.

There will be a number of short presentations around the theme followed by a structured discussion. Refreshments will be served.

The presentations will include:

  • Dr Nick Allsopp (CAP) – Diversifying assessment and inclusive assessment
  • Dr Mike Waring (SSEHS) – A framework for developing effective formative assessment and feedback practice

All are welcome but please e-mail cap@lboro.ac.uk to indicate if you’re intending to come along.

CASPA overview

Focus on assessmentCASPA has been developed by CEDE (Centre for Engineering and Design Education) and is an online system that enables staff to schedule all types of degree programme and module assessments, to record student submissions/participation against assessments and to record the return of work/feedback to students.  It is a large web based application with interfaces to the University’s Student Information System (LUSI).  CASPA can be accessed on and off campus by staff and students. It is currently being trialled in several Schools / Departments.

CASPCASPA screenA is a complete programme assessment scheduler and coursework submission/participation system with three main functions – assessment scheduling, recording coursework submission/participation and recording feedback/return of student work.

The assessment scheduling function enables staff to:

  • Enter details for any type of module or programme assessment (for example presentations, reports, examinations, performances). Assessment details must include a title, hand-in date and the type of assessment, and can additionally include assessment credits, specific hand-in items expected and an expected return date for giving marked assessments back to students.
  • View schedules of assessments by programme year, semester and week. This helps staff to co-ordinate assessment hand-in dates to ensure that assessments are spread evenly throughout each semester or academic year.
  • View a schedule of assessments for a particular student to help minimise the risk of student overburdening of workload within the academic year.
  • Print out/create a pdf of assessment schedules to provide to staff and students as necessary.

The coursework submission/participation functionality enables staff to:

  • Record student submission/participation against assessments using student id, swipecard or QR (Quick Response) CASPA coversheet.
  • Record individual, group or cohort student submissions/participation and issue an email receipt to each student.
  • Record the time and date that work/feedback has been returned to students.
    Email all submitted or non-submitted students with appropriate information (e.g. reminders or details of where and when to collect their work/feedback after marking).
  • Email module staff (staff associated with a module through LUSI) with a personalised message and a list of submitted and non-submitted students.
  • View submission data for a specific student or assessment to check student engagement.

Students logging into CASPA are presented with their individualised assessment schedule and details of their submissions/participation to date. Students can submit their work/record their participation by printing CASPA QR (Quick Response) coversheets to accompany submissions.

Two guides accompany the CASPA System (downloadable from the CASPA website):

Guide 1: A Guide for Staff using CASPA

Guide 2: A Guide for students using CASPA

Focus On… Assessment via OMR

Focus on assessment

Assessment via what?

OMR stands for Optical Mark Recognition, a technology which is still widely used here at Loughborough for summative assessment – and yet many colleagues will know very little about the service.

If you’d like to know more, we are running a ‘coffee and cake’ session on OMR as part of Focus On… Assessment Month.

Taking place on Wednesday 21st January 3-4pm, this informal session will focus on how the technology can be used effectively in assessment and in other areas. OMR’s summative and formative capabilities will be detailed, along with the service’s amazing time saving ability.

The session will be of particular interest to anyone who sets end of semester exams and/or coursework tests for large cohorts or who sets papers with large numbers of questions. Refreshments will be available.


Using mobile devices to enhance fieldwork

Prof. Derek France from the University of Chester will be visiting the Geography Department on Wednesday 21st January to share his considerable experience of using technology to enhance student learning.

Derek will be leading a hands-on seminar: ‘Enhancing fieldwork learning with Mobile devices’. This will take place from 14:00-16:00 on Wednesday 21st Jan, location TBC. Although the event is focused on geography teaching, it is open to all staff with an interest in fieldwork or the use of mobile devices.

Derek is a National Teaching Fellow and Professor of Pedagogy in Geographical Sciences. He is the director of the Enhancing Fieldwork Learning project http://www.enhancingfieldwork.org.uk/ The seminar will be of value for anyone who is or is considering undertaking student fieldwork. Even if you don’t yet use mobile technology in your teaching the case for doing so is growing rapidly. This seminar should help to give you a route into starting to understand how you might integrate such an approach into your teaching. It will cover both human and physical geography uses. The seminar will also be of use to those who might consider using such approaches in classroom teaching.

Please contact Dr Jon Millett to book your place. Numbers will be limited.

Lecture Capture Conference Postscript

Jim Turner (photo courtesy of Sandra Huskinson)

Our 2nd lecture capture conference last month, attended by over 70 delegates, received very positive feedback and generated some fantastic debates about the value of lecture capture.

There was general agreement that it would be useful to run another event with a similar focus (on pedagogic research around lecture capture) later this year, and we’ll certainly look at doing this.

All the main presentations were captured and can be accessed below.

Morning session 1: http://review.lboro.ac.uk:8080/ess/echo/presentation/6237eb11-fe08-4e02-b6d4-5e2403d0567f

Morning session 2: http://review.lboro.ac.uk:8080/ess/echo/presentation/0cbd5ce9-b266-40f7-9f7b-e18895eecc22

Afternoon session: http://review.lboro.ac.uk:8080/ess/echo/presentation/1cde883b-9ee6-4fe0-bc5f-bd26cd1e5e69

Details of the sessions can be found here.

(Photo of Jim Turner courtesy of Sandra Huskinson)

Focus On… Assessment

Focus on assessmentStarting this month, the Centre for Academic Practice is going to have a different thematic focus every month throughout the academic year. The focus for January 2015 is ‘assessment’ which seems appropriate as we approach the examination period.

For each theme we’ll have a range of workshops, ‘coffee and cake’ sessions as well as blog posts and tweets. Take a look at the CAP website (http://www.lboro.ac.uk/services/cap ) to see what’s coming up.