One of the teaching/learning techniques used in Open University texts is the self-assessment question (SAQ). Our second level Chemistry course module, The Molecular World, uses both “traditional” textual SAQs and software SAQs such as those associated with The Third Dimension.
The current investigation considered a variation on this theme involving email.
- A question was set.
- A student could opt to tackle the question or ignore it.
- A participating student could either attempt the question and submit the solution to the tutor, via email, or
- request a clue to a possible route towards the solution. This process was repeated as necessary until the solution was achieved.
The email activity focussed on an early theme of the course, the prediction of molecular shape using valence-shell electron-pair repulsion theory. Students were required to use this concept as part of the first assignment, the due date of which was 17 March 2006.
- If optional problem-solving activities are provided via email, will they be used?
- What benefits, if any, are to be gained by participating in the activity?
Analysis of assignment scores and a questionnaire were used to examine the effects of the exercise.
- Dr Nigel Barber, firstname.lastname@example.org