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11 Jan, 2006
OpenMentor is a reflective tool for teachers on assessment.
A summary of the OpenMentor project funded by the distributed e-learning strand.

Please describe the tool you are building

OpenMentor is a learning support tool designed to give teachers feedback on their comments to students about written assignments. The feedback it provides can help teachers to be sure that their comments are appropriate to the grades awarded. Each teacher will be able to use the visual and summary overview of their own comments and feedback to enhance their assessment skills.

What problem do you see the development of this tool helping to address?

The teaching model underlying the system recognises that students need an explicit level of socio-emotive support as well as direct instruction. It recommends teachers praise the student for their achievement, Point out mistakes in a constructive manner and offer explicit direction for student improvement in a specific piece of work and for future assignments. .It is especially important that the feedback students receive from teaching staff provides both the subject specific guidance they require and the support they need for further development. Initial research showed (see Whitelock et al 2004 ) that there was convincing evidence of systematic connections between different types of tutor comments and level of attainment in assessment and this was the platform for the development of OpenMentor.

The system has the potential to be used

• As a training tool

• For problem solving

• To ensure quality in teaching practice

• To ensure consistency over changes, revisions and development of courses

• As an opportunity for checking one’s own practice

Who do you see the being the primary user(s) of this tool?

Teachers, instructors, tutors.

How do you see your tool being used?

Open Mentor works by stripping out the teacher comments on an electronic assignment. Applying a set of rules to these comments in order to put them into the four major categories mentioned above. It then provides feedback to the teacher about how their comments provide support to the student.

Teachers log onto the system using a web browser and then upload commented assignments, the comments are extracted and analysed by the system and the teacher may view the results in many different formats through a web user interface. They can then interpret the information provided by the system to reflect and adjust their teaching practise if required.

To use your tool, what infrastructure etc (if any) will be needed? (ie - could it be used stand-alone? Would it need a VLE/other system to be in place?)

OpenMentor is standalone application which can be incorporated into a VLE environment or run as a standalone service. A server will be required to run this service and therefore it is run as an institutional system with a web user interface rather than one set up on individual user machines.


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