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Call for projects

Posted 7th October 2015

We are please to announce our 8th call for strategic innovation and scholarship projects for OU staff.  As in the previous round we are interested in supporting both individuals and groups of scholars and we would like to receive both –

  1. fully worked up proposals by individuals or groups, and

  2. expressions of interest from individuals who would like to join others working on particular themes but do not yet have a defined project.  We will then match people according to interest and help you set up a new project group. 

Our priorities this round are as follows –

1. Supporting students

  1. Group study experience: This is a supplementary investigation to the current eSTEeM project looking into group tuition1.  We are looking to investigate the effect on student learning of being in a group of students who do not know each other, including how the recording of OU Live tutorials affects behaviour in different types of OU Live group tuition situations.

  2. Online modules: with an increasing number of modules moving completely online, gaining a better understanding of the way students learn from onscreen/online module materials will improve the student experience and aid retention.  What are the difficulties and challenges which affect their learning?  What changes could be implemented to alleviate these?  This builds upon the eSTEeM project investigating Science L2 modules which are delivered entirely online2

  3. Media use in L1 modules: this theme will investigate whether the inclusion of more onscreen/online media assets (e.g. video, a variety of types of interactive diagrams) in modules aids learning.  Do students actually benefit from engaging with integrated video/other interactive assets or does this mode of delivery exclude some students?  Does it make a significant difference to the way students learn and does it enhance the study experience?  We would expect project personnel to connect with learning design colleagues with this inquiry.

2. Innovations in assessment

  1. Effective support for STEM examinations:  on average less than 50% of students who resit an exam pass, thereby suggesting that they are not appropriately prepared3.  This theme will investigate how different levels of support can affect student performance in exams.  How do different techniques prepare students? 

3. Technologies for STEM learning

  1. Writing for online delivery: academics are faced with the challenge of writing module content for online delivery.  A new set of resources have just been created by colleagues in the STEM Faculty and LTS to help prepare module teams to write for the VLE.  This investigation presents the opportunity to evaluate the effectiveness of these resources.

  2. Learning Analytics: how can real-time learning analytics available on dashboards which are used by module teams inform current practice of student support?  This theme will look at how learning analytics might produce more responsive and tailored approaches to supporting students.

  3. Innovative use of social media: how do students engage with various forms of social media in their study?  How are module teams making use of social media in learning design and what platforms do students favour?  Do STEM students interact differently to other students?

If you would like to register your interest in joining a project group please email esteem@open.ac.uk indicating which area you are interested in and why.  Alternatively, if you already have a proposal in mind please email esteem@open.ac.uk and we will send you a project plan submission form. 

The deadline for registering interest and submission of plans is 12.00 on Friday 23rd October 2015.


1 Gallen, AM., Walshe, A. et al (2015) Perceptions, Expectations and Experience of Group Tuition: towards a shared understanding amongst stakeholders [in progress]. 

2 Moore, E. et al (2014) Students’ study of online study [in progress]. Preliminary findings for S295, S215, S206 and S209 suggest that students’ understanding of the term ‘online modules’ appears to vary greatly with only a minority expecting online only delivery. The majority of students mainly studied online even where they had options for printing PDFs and e-book versions.  Aspects of online learning such as OU Live tutorials, quizzes and direct engagement with module teams through forums were liked by students.  No evidence has been found so far for a drop in achievement directly attributable to onscreen delivery.   

3 Assessment Policy Committee Paper (APC-2015-01-09) Review of Resit Threshold.