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Piloting personalised feedback at scale with OnTask

The UTS 2027 strategy has a priority to develop a more personalised learning experience, and CIC is leading the way in developing and validating how analytics-powered tools advance this. In March, CIC hosted a workshop bringing together colleagues from across UTS and other institutions, to think deeply about the user experience of such systems. Check out the introductory video on one such system, OnTask, and replay the keynote address about ECoach from Holly Derry to see how University of Michigan does this.


Since then, we have continued to partner with the UTS Business School, where Senior Lecturer James Wakefield leads a strategic project to investigate the impact of OnTask. Teaching 1500 first year students a mandatory undergraduate accounting subject, Accounting for Business Decisions A, in the Autumn session, James has a typical large class where it’s impossible for him to keep track of every student’s progress manually, and give them personal coaching. With OnTask, however, he can send each student a personalised email, every week. Supported by his assistant Madison Reynolds, the team crafts messages that give different feedback to students depending on their engagement with, and outcomes from, the weekly quizzes in UTS Online to test their understanding from the face-to-face sessions.

The example below shows the different messages students receive contingent on the variable of quiz scores. They’re written in the academics’ own voice, but compiled and sent to the relevant students automatically. Over the coming year the team will be evaluating the impact of OnTask, assessing its strengths and weaknesses, and the skill set needed to use this new breed of tools effectively.