Staff profiles

Project lead
Dr Peter Arthur
Senior Lecturer and Coordinator of second year BIOC2001 and BIOC2002
School of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Team members
Dr Dino Spagnoli

Project outline

An Excel data digest tool has been developed to identify weaknesses in aspects of teaching delivery and student learning. This project we will enhance the usability and capabilities of the tool through collaborative interactions with colleagues. Student marks can be used to provide feedback on student learning and achievement. The Excel data digest tool generates a simplified synthesis of mark distributions (data digest) and is currently used to identify where there is poor student understanding in a second year Biochemistry undergraduate laboratory course. This tool has been successfully used to produce measurable improvements in student performance following changes to specific course components.

The key aim of this project is to provide academics with an easy to use tool so that marks from assessment items can be used to identify weaknesses in teaching delivery therefore guiding teaching staff to make relevant changes to improve student learning. The data digest tool delivers quantitative information on learning outcomes making it possible to measure the impact of teaching innovations. The tool will also deliver a fast and effective method for unit coordinators to moderate tutors and demonstrators to ensure equality of marking across the cohort.

Project findings

The project aims were accomplished; to provide academics with an easy to use tool so that marks from assessment items can be used to identify weaknesses in teaching delivery, and to generate an example of how to use the tool to examine consistency of marking by tutors and demonstrators in large undergraduate classes. The Excel tool has been developed and examples of how to use the tool have been generated. The Excel tool was tested on marks within the School of Molecular Sciences and the feedback has been positive. The current challenge is to encourage uptake of the tool by other academics. This project has given the opportunity to improve the team members’ project management skills in converting concepts into a useable software tools. How the excel tool can be more widely employed needs to be further explored. One possibility is through workshops and possibly incorporating the analytical tools into UWA’s Online Learning Management System (LMS).


  • Presented a poster at the Australian Conference on Science and Mathematics Education, Brisbane, September 2016.
  • Currently has one publication under review in the Journal of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education.

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