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Online tutorial design: can we do better?

Project leader(s): 
Linda Thomson and Nicola McIntyre

Poor attendance at online synchronous tutorials has been an ongoing problem. One of the aims of the introduction of the group tuition policy was to address this problem by giving students more choice. Based on the evidence seen thus far, this has not resulted in better attendance and it has also possibly resulted in tutorials becoming more didactic, with little student interactivity as tutorial content is becoming more heavily prescribed by module teams. Given the premise that deep learning requires active participation of students, this is potentially a problem (Sfard, 1998).

This project aims to look at alternative approaches to online tuition in SDK100 (Science and Health) and SD329 (Signals and Perceptions). The pilots will look at how different approaches to tutorials could be applied and the effectiveness of the approaches used.  

Maths support on SDK100 has had mixed success because SDK100 students have such a diverse background in maths. The maths support has been delivered via cluster wide tutorials but tutors have reported difficulties in providing support that meets the differing requirements of all students  in the group. This project will look at a flipped lecture approach with short pre-recorded lectures, which students can choose to suit their own particular learning needs and then this will be supported with a problem tutorial session.

SD329 covers some quite complex topics and students struggle to assimilate all the information. This project will look at providing a problem-based learning session which students would be offered after they have studied the relevant module materials.  

The results of this project could be used to inform and supplement current tuition strategies to provide students with a broader, more immersive experience by encouraging students to take a more active role in tutorials. This different approach to tutorials may also improve tutorial attendance particularly if the learning benefits are obvious to students.