Part of the
Centre for
Engineering Education
TU DelftTU EindhovenUniversity of TwenteWageningen University
Centre for
Engineering Education


+31(0)6 48 27 55 61


Project introduction and background information

In the practical of the course 'FPE-21306 Food Production and Preservation', students become familiar with food processing and interactions between processing and products. Students perform experiments and learn to process their raw results (make calculations, evaluate and discuss outcomes). The students get the practical manual as an Excel document, in which they also enter the collected data, perform calculations and complete their report. The practical of this course is attended by 190 students (all simultaneously). We notice that students often make mistakes that prevents good performance in the next steps of the experiment and in its reporting. In this calculation part of the practical we want to provide immediate feedback (to minor and major mistakes), allowing good progress in further steps of the practical. However, with the large number of participating students, under supervision of 8 supervisors (+8 student assistants), it is impossible to provide immediate ‘personal’ feedback. We notice that feedback given afterwards (upon checking report) is not reviewed anymore by the students, as they are not able anymore to act on it.

Objective and expected outcomes

The aim of this education innovation project is to develop an automatic feedback tool (in Excel) that gives immediate feedback to students when they make their calculations upon processing their raw experimental data. The in Excel embedded feedback tool will support the learning process and coach the students in the best way of working/solving, tell whether correct/incorrect, why incorrect, inclusions of hints). The automated feedback tool should react on most typical and recurring pitfalls and mistakes. 

The feedback tool will be included in Excel practical manuals in which students enter their raw experimental data, perform their calculations and complete their report. We will use Excel, as this allows to use tools as ‘conditional formatting’, can include links and has many functionalities that seem very suitable for this. We already checked other ‘external’ software, but Excel has major advantages that meets our requirements (advantages: open access, user-friendly, no special IT skills required.

The innovation is successful when the built-in-feedback tool supports the students in the learning process during the practical. With the tool students will see immediately whether their approach is correct, and students can repair without support of a supervisor, and better continue on the desired pathway (without not knowing that they are making important mistakes). The students will be less dependent on the availability of the teacher. The teacher can use the time for addressing the higher learning goals.

  • This project will contribute to a rich learning environment and an optimised learning environment for the practical
  • The project will create a flexible and personalised learning path
  • Extension of the interactive feedback tool for other FPE courses
  • This project will have an added value to our distance courses (NTU), online courses (Online MSc Food Technology) and optional MOOCs.


  • Identify recurring mistakes by students in data processing and interpretation
  • Build in feedback in recently developed digital practical manuals (developed in Excel)
  • Extend to Excel manuals which are currently being developed with built-in feedback
  • Determine best practice for fast automated checking (by supervisors) of student output (output is a completed Excel report)
  • Test and optimize the developed tool in the target group