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

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

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

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