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Technologies for STEM learning

Student progression through linked interactive screen experiments: building confidence and competence

Project leader(s): 
Mark Hirst and Christopher Heath
Faculty: 
STEM
Status: 
Current
Body: 

We plan to seek information from students taking the module S290 Investigating Human Health and Disease. We wish to gather their views about the interactive screen experiments (ISEs) that they undertake throughout their study, their ease of use and whether completing the ISEs has improved their scientific skills/thinking and their confidence to tackle scientific problems. We will achieve this by asking the students to complete questionnaires and to keep video diaries/blogs at specific intervals during the module to capture their thoughts and ideas on recent learning experiences.

This mixed methods approach will yield both qualitative and quantitative data which will be collected and analysed by appropriate methods (textual analysis and statistical analysis). The outcome of this research will be a better understanding of students’ needs when studying practical science and will also identify any technical or accessibility issues that might be improved.

Mark Hirst, Christopher Heath and Hilary MacQueen poster

Modern Container-based Learning Interface and Delivery Infrastructure (MCLIDI)

Project leader(s): 
Mark Hall and Soraya Kouadri Mostéfaoui
Faculty: 
STEM
Status: 
Current
Body: 

TT284 (Web Technologies) is a popular level 2 module covering fundamental web technologies. One challenge students face is the large number of elements they have to deal with during their studies of the module. Even for the simple introductory activities at the beginning of the module they concurrently work on multiple HTML and CSS files and the complexity increases throughout the module. Students need to follow the instructions in the browser, make the required changes in the editor, then switch back to a second browser window to see the results. This constant switching adds significant cognitive load and introduces an additional source of errors into the learning process. The additional cognitive load is particularly problematic for neurodiverse1 students and students with disabilities, for whom dealing with all these elements presents a higher baseline cognitive load, creating an accessibility barrier to learning success. As a result, TT284 has poor retention and low student satisfaction. Workload and complexity are amongst the most frequent reasons of dissatisfaction.

This project will develop and evaluate a modern container-based learning interface and delivery infrastructure, focussing on supporting neurodiverse students and students with disabilities, particularly those with vision and motor-skill impairments and dyslexia. The developed infrastructure will benefit all students and will be adaptable to other modules within the university. A range of existing technologies will be combined to deliver a highly accessible integrated interface in which the students would have access to the module materials, file editor, and the resulting website within a single browser window. This will significantly reduce the cognitive load and the number of errors made due to that load.

The anticipated outcomes will be an improved student learning experience, better student satisfaction, improved retention, and an understanding of the cost impacts of this approach. The experience and satisfaction will be monitored and evaluated using a range of methods, including questionnaires, focus groups, and automatic monitoring of the students’ interactions with the new infrastructure.

1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neurodiversity

Mark Hall and Soraya Kouadri Mostéfaoui poster (PPTX)

Remote sighted helper support for visually impaired students: exploring good practice: Stage 1

Project leader(s): 
Richard Walker
Faculty: 
STEM
Status: 
Archived
Body: 

This project set out to explore how visually impaired (VI) students may be supported by a remote sighted (RS) helper to interact with visually complex teaching resources, as this support process was being evolved. We aimed to document student and helper reactions to this novel method of support, and to evaluate whether RS helper support is comparable with, or has advantages over physically-present sighted helper support for some VI students and whether such support may usefully be provided in future.

The context was the introductory programming block of TM111, based on the drag-and-drop visual programming environment OUBuild in which students create computer programs by manipulating coloured blocks representing code. Three VI students on TM111 20D were supported remotely by a RS helper, overseen by the TM111 Module Team Accessibility Lead Richard Walker (also project lead). This report documents how this support manifested for each student, describing the perspectives of the students, the sighed helper and the tutors involved.

Related resources

Walker, R. (2020) Remote sighted helper support for VI students: exploring good practice. eSTEeM Final Report (PDF)

Richard Walker project poster

 

 

 

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