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Supporting students

How one module can serve multiple qualifications through tailored implementation of presentation

Project leader(s): 
Carol Calvert and Rachel Hilliam
Faculty: 
STEM
Status: 
Current
Body: 

Many modules in mathematics and statistics act as service modules for a wide range of non-M&S qualifications. This project aims to scope out an approach where both the study aims and the support for individual students on differing qualifications are tailored to their qualification goal. The aim is to provide a student journey through the module which will be more appropriate aligned with their individual qualification and therefore improve both student satisfaction and retention.

To pilot the approach M248 has been chosen for this work. This is a module with around 450 students of whom around 230 are studying Mathematics and/or Statistics related qualifications, the remaining students are studying as part of a non-M&S qual including many taking it as a standalone module, as part of the Open degree and or as part of non-degree level qualifications.

The project will cover three strands and the funding requested in this bid will not only cover the evaluation and dissemination of results but also the cost of specialist ALs needed for the work in strand 2 (see below).   

  1. Identify the pressure points for students studying M248 and classify the differences of these pressure points by qualification. This will be done though student evaluation.
  2. Use specialist ALs to identify routes through M248 which will be tailored to each of the main qualifications which students who study M248 are registered for.  We anticipate these routes will highlight aspects of the material and assessment which are important pre-requisites for future modules within individual qualifications, as well as noting parts of the module where it might be less important for deep understanding for their chosen qualification.
  3. Allocation of students to tutors by qualification, rather than geography, with tutor group time allocated for qualification-based discussions and tutorials reflecting routes identified in part 2.

The value to students of drop-in tutorials to support assessment

Project leader(s): 
Maria Townsend
Faculty: 
STEM
Status: 
Current
Body: 

Most online tutorials have a structured didactic approach and are a top-down approach to learning. The online environment can also hinder student active participation in tutorials for a variety of reasons. However, students still see these types of tutorials as valuable to their learning but are consuming them in different ways, such as reviewing tutorial recordings.

This project aims to assess the place for less formal drop-in tutorials to support assessment, essentially a bottom-up approach, where the students lead the direction of the tutorial. These will be to complement the existing tutorials, rather than to replace them.

The tutorial strategy for U116 will be modified to include a drop-in tutorial, in addition to the usual tutorials, in the week before the submission date for each TMA. This will be replicated across all clusters. As successfully completing TMA01 is can be a key indicator for module completion two drop-in tutorials, per cluster, will be timetabled before TMA01 to increase accessibility to students. The intention is that the drop-in tutorials will not be recorded, as recordings of the structured tutorials will be available for those who are not able to attend the drop-in tutorials.

The intention is establish whether students attend drop-in tutorials and if, and how, they value them as an additional support mechanism for assessment. This is to inform future tuition strategies on U116 and other modules. Furthermore, the experience of the tutors facilitating the drop-in tutorials will be gathered, in order to disseminate lessons learned to tutors and module teams. This will aid future design of tuition strategies and provide development for tutors.

It is anticipated that the outcome for students attending the drop-in tutorials could be increased confidence in their learning and assessment, improved results and a higher probability of completion. For some tutors there may be anxiety inherent in a tutorial where direction is handed over to students. However, by focussing the tutorials on assessment this should be minimised, particularly for tutors who are familiar with the module.

Maria Townsend, Wendy Berndt and Emma Champion poster (PDF)

All change, but does tuition in cluster groups work?

Project leader(s): 
Helen Jefferis
Faculty: 
STEM
Status: 
Current
Body: 

Research question: What functions do cluster level tutorials fulfil when offered as part of Level 1 Computing & IT studies?

Aims:

  1. To provide recommendations to the Faculty and School on the optimum tuition strategy needed to enhance Level 1 student engagement in their studies.
  2. To provide recommendations to the Faculty and School on the staff development needed to enhance the digital experience of our students when attending tutorials.

Pedagogic issue: In 2016 the Group Tuition Policy (GTP) was introduced which radically changed the way tutorials (online and F2F) are planned, organised and delivered. Further to that a new online tutorial technology (Adobe Connect) was adopted in 2017. Additionally, also in 2017, the introductory Level 1 C & IT qualifications introduced radically different presentation patterns, moving to two shorter cohorts per year starting in October and April. The combined effect of all this on Level 1 student success has not yet been adequately researched and little evidence exists as to the relative merits or perceived advantages to students of our currently adopted practice. The OU is currently reviewing its approach to learning and teaching, including tutorial provision, and evidence is urgently needed to inform future decisions. Evidence is needed, for example, on the effect of cluster size on the student experience in online tutorials.

Project Outline: The project will take a two-pronged approach (1) gather qualitative and quantitative survey data from students at start and end of module about their tutorial experiences (2) gather student cluster tutorial attendance and data. This will allow us to investigate the student view of cluster tutorials as well as gathering data about actual attendance at tutorials. The project will be using clusters on TM111 19J to pilot the approach and to check what data is available, with the main focus being on TM111 20D. A further extension to TM111 20J will be considered nearer the time.

Impacts: This work will allow module teams to tailor their tuition strategies such that the tutorial provision both meets the needs of students on a module and also provides an excellent digital experience for those students attending. This may also result in increased attendance at tutorials.