The development of communication skills into an assessment of a second-year genetics unit with approximately 80 students at Edith Cowan University was achieved by taking an assessment online using the Cadmus platform. All students performed the same laboratory activities over several weeks then wrote a scientific report in the Cadmus platform. The students have three such reports over the course of the semester, the marks are scaffolded with each being worth more allowing for a more rounded learning intense environment. This change in platform and scaffolding resulted in 73 of 75 students improving their overall laboratory grades (combined report marks before Cadmus ~62% after Cadmus ~75%), worth 30% overall. When surveys were conducted 78% of the students liked the format of the reports, 95% liked the educator feedback, 81% of students rated their experience using Cadmus for scientific reports as good to excellent and 72% of students would like to use Cadmus in other assessments. The Cadmus platform and scaffolding are an enormous benefit for embedding academic skills into assessments. It is particularly relevant for students with English as a second language or/and a constant problem with plagiarism. Using the platform gives targeted support to students to develop their communication skills in a discipline-specific context. This is particularly important where student entry skills are highly variable, as each student receives support at their point of need.
Lois Balmer, Edith Cowan University, Australia