Skip to content

Toggle service links
  1. eSTEeM
  2. Category
  3. Theme
  4. Supporting students
Subscribe to RSS - Supporting students

Supporting students

Welsh-medium tuition in Level 1 Mathematics/Addysgu Mathemateg Lefel 1 trwy gyfrwng y Gymraeg

Project leader(s): 
Andrew Potter, Delyth Tomos and Chris Hughes
Faculty: 
STEM
Status: 
Current
Body: 

Welsh-medium education has attracted increased attention over the past 50 years. Much research has been conducted in secondary and higher education contexts, including the teaching and learning of mathematics in Welsh. However, there is a gap in research which explores the topic of Welsh-medium mathematics tuition in a distance learning context. Moreover, there is a lack of consideration in the literature of the experiences of older adult (i.e. aged 25+) learners.

The research question for this project is: “What are the factors which affect student engagement in a bilingual Welsh/English mathematics distance-learning context?”

For many students, MU123 Discovering Mathematics will be the first OU module they study as part of a range of different study intentions. Some students approach MU123 with a degree of apprehension about their mathematical ability. We are particularly interested in exploring whether offering bilingual tutorial sessions, tutor support and a Welsh-language forum is a factor in student engagement on MU123.

It is anticipated that Welsh is the first language of some students, and that many may have had experience of Welsh-medium tuition at school. In addition, it is expected that some of the increasing number of Welsh learners across the UK may also be interested in Welsh-medium tuition as a means of improving their language proficiency and situating their language learning in an immersive, real-life context. This project will seek to explore the experiences of the broad range of Welsh competencies that we assume to exist amongst MU123 students. For this reason we have chosen a translanguaging approach to bilingual tuition (see Rationale), in order to allow speakers of all levels of fluency to participate.

It is expected that the findings of this project will help increase understanding of the factors surrounding student engagement in bilingual distance-learning contexts, on MU123 in future presentations, and for Level 1 study in STEM subjects more generally.

Andrew Potter, Delyth Tomos and Chris Hughes poster (PPT)

Support for Students. Teaching for Tutors. An Investigation into Ideas on Encouraging Students to Engage

Project leader(s): 
Cathryn Peoples
Faculty: 
STEM
Status: 
Current
Body: 

In 19J, the Project Lead carried out an investigation on providing personalised support to two groups of Level 3 Software Engineering students. The literature suggests that students want more attention from their tutors, a general greater level of support, and a sense of belonging [1] [2]. In practice, however, the findings differed from what is reported in the literature: A minority of students were interested in the personalised support in reality, and the students who engaged formed the higher performing cohort. The students who had the most to gain, the disadvantaged students, therefore did not receive personalised support beyond that which is typically provided. There was therefore a gap between performance achieved across the module 

The objective of this proposed investigation is to respond to this gap, by gaining an understanding of the reasons why certain students do not engage with their tutor and/or their study, and to provision mechanisms which might encourage their engagement. This will investigate the “Support for Students” aspect in the project title, in the sense of understanding if non-engagement is a result of student characteristics, ability, and/or personal circumstances. The second part of the investigation will examine the “Teaching for Tutors” angle, in an attempt to understand if the reasons why a particular cohort of students has not engaged is because they believe their tutor to be unapproachable. The target is then to deploy approaches, from the introductory contact from the tutor to the post-exam period, which respond to the needs of this cohort. The project will conclude with an assessment of the suitability of the proposed approaches in terms of the frequency, type and quality of student engagement.

The intention is that the project will be applicable to other modules. If it is identified that a more personalised approach to communicating with students becomes effective when initial communication attempts are not responded to, the introductory approaches and subsequent support approaches can be applied.

Cathryn Peoples project poster


[1] P. Humphreys, “The Top Five Things That Really Matter to Students about their University,” JISC, Mar. 2018.

[2] A. Mountford-Zimdars, D. Sabri, J. Moore, J. Sanders, S. Jones, and L. Higham, “Causes of Differences in Student Outcomes,” HEFCE, Jul. 2015.

 

Encouraging verbal communication in online small-group Maths problem-solving sessions; taking inspiration from individual sessions

Project leader(s): 
Abi Kirk
Faculty: 
STEM
Status: 
Current
Body: 

There is evidence that verbal communication by students in group online tutorials is rare. In contrast, it seems anecdotally that students speak more in individual support sessions online. This project will take inspiration from the aspects of individual sessions that succeed in promoting speech. This information will be obtained by surveying tutors, following up some responses with logs of individual sessions. This will inform the design of small-group online problem-solving sessions for students on M337 Complex Analysis. Such sessions are chosen as being midway between individual sessions and standard group tutorials, with a problem-solving setting being more conducive to interaction. M337 is chosen because the project lead has over ten years of tutoring on it, and the Module Team have agreed to sessions being run on their module.

There will be two phases involving problem-solving sessions: a pilot of two and a main series of four. In each phase, feedback will be taken from students and tutor observers. Suggestions from the pilot phase will be used to modify the session design before the main series. In the final phase views on the effectiveness of the sessions will be documented. Recordings of the sessions will be analysed to assess the level and type of verbal interaction, as explained in Section 3. The anticipated outcome is a conclusion on whether this type of problem-solving session is effective and can encourage students to speak. This could lead to further such sessions, and the approaches used could possibly be extended to more standard group tutorials, taking us a step towards the desirable outcome of learning through interaction within a community online.

Abi Kirk project poster

1 of 23