IT graduates develop assessment tool for vet educators

February 4, 2015

Some of team who worked together on the software: (left to right) Dr Pyara Dhillon, Shri Rai, fifth year vet student Erica Zarb, Knight the horse, Dr Cristy Secombe, Dr Melinda Bell and Frank Jardim

From left to right: Dr Pyara Dhillon, Shri Rai, fifth year vet student Erica Zarb, Knight the horse, Dr Cristy Secombe, Dr Melinda Bell and Frank Jardim

Computer science graduates from Murdoch University have worked with veterinary educators to develop a new digital assessment tool.

The software, which can be used on smart phones as well as desktop computers, will be piloted by staff from the School of Veterinary and Life Sciences to record the achievement of clinical competencies by undergraduate students.

The team which developed the assessment tool while still undergraduates at Murdoch say the software’s generic design has the potential to be used across multiple disciplines within and beyond the University.

“The original software was designed in close conjunction with Dr Melinda Bell and Dr Cristy Secombe from the Vet School,” said Frank Jardim who collaborated with fellow graduates Dylan Pindur and Gary Macpherson on the system, which they’ve christened Comp2Go.

“They wanted a system that was mobile and easy to use, allowing for rapid information recording on both desktop computers and smart phones.

“We tried to replicate the design and layout of systems already in existence as well as ironing out the limitations with these systems. Half the battle with new systems is user acceptance so this was a critical step.”

The resulting software has won the graduates rave reviews from the small numbers of educators in the school who have so far used it.

“The software has made assessments easier and more time efficient for members of staff,” said Dr Secombe. “For the vet students, it is much easier for them to see what assessments they’ve received and the areas they need to work on.

“The tool will also contribute to curriculum design and revision as educators will be able to identify areas that are not being captured or students as a group are deficient in and institute change.

“As the project was developed while the group were still undergraduates, their expertise was provided to us free of charge, saving our school a significant amount of money.”

The team’s supervisors Shri Rai, Dr Pyara Dhillon and Dr Kevin Wong from Murdoch’s School of Engineering and Information Technology said the project was an excellent real world learning opportunity, earning the graduates invaluable communication, design and development skills.

“Some of the team had part time jobs where they might have to do software development work, but it is not usual to build a complete system starting from requirements determination. The project exposed them to the entire process from beginning to end,” said Mr Rai.

“The current version of the software is customisable by the end user, so it can be used in any setting where there is task assessment to be carried out.

“After the pilot project is completed I’d also like to use it in my assessments of students and there is more work planned to improve the system.”

Mr Jardim, Mr Pindur and Mr MacPherson are currently developing the Comp2Go system as a business start-up and are continuing to collaborate with staff from the School of Veterinary and Life Sciences and the School of Engineering and Information Technology as the pilot project is rolled out.

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