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STEM engagement

Floodplain Meadows Partnership Ambassadors

Project leader(s): 
Emma Rothero
Faculty: 
STEM
Status: 
Current
Body: 

We have previously undertaken simple questionnaires to gain feedback about the training, but we would like to develop this further and in-more depth to answer the following questions:

  1. How effective has our training been for trainees’ work/professional lives?
  • Has it improved knowledge and experience within their organisations
  • Has it improved their personal career development.
  • Has it resulted in improved floodplain meadow site management (better for the environment)?
  1. Can an on-line forum build a community of practise in the conservation sector?

What are you intending to do to address this issue?  

We would like to trial a number of ways to explore trainee experiences and ideas including:

For question 1: How effective has our training been for trainees’ work/professional lives?

  1. Rigorously evaluate the new cohort of Ambassadors (Phase 3) before they start their training, during their training and at the end of their training.
  2. For the baseline evaluation, we plan to use simple paper questionnaires for them to fill out during a 2-day residential course in May 2019. The initial evaluation would include questions to explore what would be most beneficial to students in terms of professional accreditation (OU course accreditation/professional body accreditation etc).
  3. For the mid-point assessment, we will be running a one-day course, at which we would table paper questionnaires to assess progress against expectations. At the final 2-day residential course, we will run a group discussion which will record their feedback about whether the course met their expectations and what could be done differently. We would transcribe this recording and evaluate comments.

For question 2: Can an on-line forum build a community of practise in the conservation sector?

  1. Set up all P3 Ambassadors with an OUCU so they can join in an OU forum created just for them, hosted on the Floodplain Meadows Partnership website www.floodplainmeadows.org.uk The forum should be created before they come for their 1st training event in May 2019.
  2. Set up Phases 1 and 2 of the Ambassadors programme so they can also join the forum, although not so urgent as for P3.
  3. Appoint two super Ambassadors who would be paid to moderate the forum, including putting on-line threads for discussion, questions, information of interest – to keep the forum alive and active and to develop peer group support.
  4. Analyse the discussions on the forum to determine the nature of the communication. What are they using it for? How is it helping?

What do you see as the impacts, uses and outcomes of this work?

  1. Better training for future rounds of this course
  2. Learn about how to set up a community of practise – what are the best/most effective methods of communication with a group of students. Share the experience within the OU.
  3. Evidence of impact for REF (we are a REF Impact Case Study and the Ambassadors form part of the impact listed).

Flight of the Fritillary Phase 2

Project leader(s): 
Emma Rothero
Faculty: 
STEM
Status: 
Archived
Body: 

The Floodplain Meadows Partnership (FMP), hosted by the Open University, has been collecting data on the rare plant species snake’s-head fritillary at a National Nature Reserve (North Meadow, Cricklade, Wilts) since 1999, using volunteers. The main pollinator of the snake’s-head fritillary is the bumblebee and the FMP became concerned that reported declines in bumblebee populations would have an impact on this plant. In 2012, funds were secured to expand the numbers of volunteers counting across two new sites and establish bumblebee surveys on the three sites.  In 2015, further funds were secured to continue and develop the project.

Over six years the project increased the numbers of volunteers more than three-fold through wide advertising. Annual workshops were run to enable volunteers to engage in the findings and the research process. Volunteer attendance at counts and workshops was maintained and volunteer engagement assessed through questionnaires and interviews.  Evidence arising from the project has led to new ecological information about a rare plant found on internationally important sites for nature conservation and more in-depth volunteer research is showing a link between the snake’s-head fritillary and bumblebees.

Data collected by the project are used in 3 Open University undergraduate courses and the project has maintained a wide external profile, engaging with many organisations outside the University and with slots on Countryfile, BBC Farming Today and BBC Wiltshire.

Related resource

Rothero, E. (2018) Flight of the Fritillary (Phase 2). eSTEeM Final Report (PDF)

 

Flight of the Fritillary

Project leader(s): 
Emma Rothero
Faculty: 
STEM
Status: 
Archived
Body: 

The Floodplain Meadows Partnership (FMP), hosted by the Open University, has been collecting data on the rare Snakeshead fritillary plant at a National Nature Reserve (North Meadow, Cricklade, Wilts) since 1999, using volunteers. The main pollinator of the snakeshead fritillary is the bumblebee and the FMP became concerned that reported declines in bumblebee populations would have an impact on this plant. In 2012, funds were secured to expand the numbers of volunteers counting across two new sites and establish bumblebee surveys on the three sites.  The project sought to assess the degree of retention and engagement of volunteers throughout the process.

Over three years the project increased the numbers of volunteers more than three-fold through wide advertising. Annual workshops were run to enable volunteers to engage in the findings and the research process. Volunteer attendance at counts and workshops was maintained and volunteer engagement assessed through questionnaires and interviews. 

88% of volunteers who responded to the surveys thought they had improved their skills in natural history recording, and a new ecological finding has been demonstrated.

Further work is recommended to develop technology based solutions to capture plant-pollinator interactions for student and volunteer assessment.

Related resources

Rothero, E. (2014) Flight of the Fritillary. eSTEeM Final Report. (PDF)

Appendix 1 North Meadow interview transcripts. (PDF)

Appendix 2 Evening meeting of fritillary count volunteers Wilshire Jan 2013. (PDF)

Appendix 3 Flight of the Fritillary response to questionnaires. (PDF)

Appendix 4 Feedback figures from questionnnaires.  (PDF)

Rothero E., Dodd M., Dyson M., Tatarenko I., Gowing D. (2013) Flight of Fritilary: application of Citizen Science in ecology and conservation. P. 66-72, in Moder Problems of Ecology and Human Health. International Conference. Cherepovets State University. (PDF)

Tatarenko, I., Dodd, M., Rothero, E., Gowing, D. (2013) Citizen science in meadow studies: population dynamics in Fritillaria meleagris on North Meadow (Wiltshire, UK). Research and Conservation of Floodplain Meadows: Proceedings of International workshop, Kaluga, Russia, Moscow Pedagogical State University and the Floodplain Meadow Partnership. (PDF)

Fritillary leaflet March 2014. (PDF)

Rothero poster (PDF)

Scholarship Shorts - video highlighting the activities, findings and impact of Emma's eSTEeM project.

Video length: 5 mins 8 secs

 

Download transcript

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