Ngee Ann Poly uses AI to shortlist EAE applicants
Virtual assistant EVA will assess Early Admission Exercise applicant write-ups, and interact with them via online chat
O-level and Institute of Technical Education students who applied to Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP) through its Early Admission Exercise (EAE) this year will be interacting with its first virtual assistant during the shortlisting stage.
The schools involved in this pilot programme where artificial intelligence platform, EVA, will be used are business and accountancy, film and media studies and health sciences.
These schools receive over 4,000 EAE applications a year, making up 40 per cent of the total number of applications received by NP.
It takes 470 man-hours to sift through applicants' write-ups, but with EVA, that duration is reduced just to two hours.
EVA, which was developed by local start-up impress.ai, will not only read application write-ups submitted by students, it will also interact with them through an online chat to know their aptitude and competencies.
Using a prediction model based on an analysis of application write-ups from the past three years, EVA will select write-ups similar to earlier shortlisted ones.
Assistant Professor Frank Guan from Singapore Institute of Technology said tools using AI have already been developed and applied to automate the grading process, such as assessing write-ups from students.
Said Prof Guan: "Technology-enhanced assessment using AI can speed up the assessment process significantly, thus saving time and effort."
The move to introduce AI to review written applications is a commendable one, said Mr Amin Neghavati, acting assistant director and digital technologist of the Professional Development Centre, British Council Singapore.
"Education can tap machine strengths to enhance human capabilities."
However, one major challenge AI technology faces is its reasoning capabilities.
"For example, no matter what the assessment results for the write-ups are, it is hard for AI to explain how the results are obtained," said Prof Guan.
"This may be an issue when some features of the write-ups may not be assessed properly, such as nuances in language used."
Ms Nancy Tan, NP's director of academic affairs, said that face-to-face interviews are still part of the screening process.
She said: "Personal connection with applicants is important as it gives a chance for the school to observe the applicants' strength and characteristics during group activities."
NP staff will also review the applications of all students who have not been selected by EVA.
The spokesman said: "We have instituted a 100 per cent manual review of the write-ups that have not been selected by EVA to ensure that no deserving applicants are missed and will continue to do so in future."