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  5. Personalised Student Support Plans: Examining the Effectiveness of Support Recommendations made by Students

Personalised Student Support Plans: Examining the Effectiveness of Support Recommendations made by Students

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

Steps to improve student engagement is a well-researched topic. Strategies proposed to encourage student engagement include interaction, relevancy, and multimedia, as a few examples. I want to examine the effectiveness of engaging students through the design of personalised support plans. These support plans might involve any of the aforementioned topics, and will be selected by each student, specific to their needs. While personalised support plans are applied to primary-aged children, as identified in the literature [1] [2], there is less evidence of the approach being used with under-graduate students. The goal is therefore to allow students to have the freedom to be supported in the ways which they feel will strengthen their ability to learn – the approach will allow plans with bespoke relevance to be put in place. I will also make recommendations to students in the design of their support plans to help them to understand the way in which personalised support may be achieved.

One technique which I have used for several years to engage my project students (both distance and face-to-face) is the Slack project management experience – “It’s a place where conversations happen, decisions are made, and information is always at your fingertips. With Slack, your team is better connected” [3]. I have collected opinions from students at the end of the academic year regarding how effective they found Slack to be; students told me:

It’s a brilliant tool for communicating with one’s tutor and sharing information

I was able to have regular communication with my tutor and could answer a lot of questions about the project easily and keep track of my work

Quick and easy to communicate with tutor. Not too instructive and not as formal as email

I have not, however, trialled this approach with students who are involved in delivered modules of study, such as TM354. This has been because there is generally more frequent interaction built into the module between myself and students, in addition to the overheads of setting up and fulfilling the support through this environment. However, I am confident that Slack will have positive impacts in the case of modules such as TM354, and the overheads of supporting students in this way are therefore considered to be necessary. If we wish to support students in a way which suits them, there is an overhead in doing so. I therefore plan to incorporate Slack, as one thread, into the personalised support programme.

In response to the support plans which students articulate themselves, I want to examine if the types of support requested are dependent on student characteristics/backgrounds, gender, age, or previous academic experiences. It is the intention that this information can lead to an appreciation of more autonomous techniques to encourage student engagement in the future. Furthermore, being able to correlate the support plans with these personal details will allow the scheme to have applicability beyond this subject domain and region in which they students exist.

It is the intention that the proposed project will directly affect students in a positive way. The goal is to deploy support mechanisms which increase their ability to learn. It is a further objective that their performance is improved during the programme, with a reduced number of extension requests, higher TMA performance, and fewer module deferrals.


[1] https://www.nationalcollege.org.uk/transfer/open/adsbm-phase-3-module-1-enabling-learning/adsbm-p3m1s2/adsbm-p3m1s2t4.html

[2] https://www.education.ie/en/Schools-Colleges/Services/National-Educational-Psychological-Service-NEPS-/Student-Support-File-Guidelines.pdf

[3] slack.com

Peoples, C. (2019) poster

Scholarship Series – Cathryn talks to Janet Sumner about her eSTEeM project which examines the effectiveness of engaging students through the design of personalised support plans.

 

Video length: 10 mins 30 secs

 

 

Download transcript

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