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15th call for strategic innovation and scholarship projects

Posted 15th July 2019

Welcome to the 15th eSTEeM call for projects. As in previous calls we are interested in supporting individuals and groups of scholars from the Open University and we would like to receive both: 

  1. fully worked up proposals by individuals or groups, and
  2. expressions of interest from individuals who would like to join others working on particular themes but do not yet have a defined project. We will then match people according to interest and help you set up a new project group.

If you are seeking to gain recognition as a HEA Fellow or Senior Fellow, a completed eSTEeM project can be helpful to support your claim for professional recognition against the UK Professional Standards Framework via Applaud.

We are continuing to prioritise projects which actively involve students as scholarly co-collaborators/co-investigators on the project team and not merely as the subjects of study. We are happy to provide guidance on how exactly this might be achieved in the context of your project plan.

The following list of priority areas are still of strategic importance and may help you in focusing your project proposal.

1. Learning design

  1. Online study – we would like to encourage projects which focus on the specific ways in which students approach their learning on online only modules, in particular what types of online assets are used and valued by students and how these assets enhance/detract from the learning experience.
  2. Assessment – the implications of recent or planned changes in assessment practice e.g. the impacts on student learning/retention of moves to a single component assessment regimes.
  3. Projects which explore ways of actively including students in the learning design process.

2. Innovations in STEM

Innovation in educational technology – explorations of using technology in new ways and gaining a fuller understanding of changes in student expectations and aspirations in this area.

3. Learning communities

The significance of learning communities in open and distance STEM education, how such communities may be developed and sustained and what impact vibrant communities can have on retention and progression of students.  

4. Supporting students

  1. Proactive student support – a range of proactive support activities are currently being delivered to STEM students by the Student Support Teams (SSTs) following funding provided by the More Students Qualifying (MSQ) portfolio. Activities range from proactive support to students deemed ‘at-risk’ of not completing their module using predictive analytics, to proactive contact of stalled and lapsed students. We would also welcome projects which investigate better ways of engaging students in the pre-module start period and re-engaging students who have deferred/stalled.
  2. We would also like to further encourage collaborative proposals between the SRSC, the Faculty and Associate Lecturers that will evaluate the impact of these, and other, activities on student experience and success. We are keen for these to involve Student Recruitment and Support staff as active partners in the design and operation of the project, and not merely in contacting students. If you would like to know more about current and planned activities within individual subject areas, please contact your SST Faculty Lead.
  3. Better ways to support students (via modules teams, Associate Lecturers and Student Support Teams) who are studying two or more modules concurrently. This would contribute to the aim of promoting full-time flexible study.

5. Employability

The University continues to work closely with employers to ensure that our curriculum provides graduates with suitable employability skills including the importance of accreditation by professional bodies and what effect this has on student motivation. We are interested in projects that investigate the embedding of employability skills or career development planning within STEM modules or programmes. Please note that funding is also available for scholarship related to employability from the Enhancing Employability and Career Progression Programme (EECP). eSTEeM is able to provide advice on making a submission to this fund and discuss with you which funding stream, eSTEeM or EECP, is most appropriate for your employability scholarship project proposal.

6. Equality and diversity issues in recruitment and attainment

  1. Over the past year several of our STEM schools have undertaken detailed gender analysis of student data as part of their submissions for Athena SWAN awards. This has revealed previously hidden gender differences in enrolments and progression on several programmes. We welcome specific proposals to investigate these gender issues as specified in school action plans[1]
  2. We would also like to strongly encourage investigations of other diversity issues such as the degree awarding gap of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) and disabled students.

Please note that this list does not preclude you from suggesting other projects that you feel would fit within the eSTEeM portfolio.

[1] Please contact your respective Equality and Diversity Lead (intranet only) for further details on your school action plan.  

What to do next

Pre-bidding Workshop, 5th August, 10.30-12.00

We will be holding a pre-bidding workshop to assist OU colleagues with the preparation of an eSTEeM project proposal and to discuss any project ideas that you may have. The workshop will take place on Monday 5th August, 10.30-12.00 in Meeting Room 2, Ground Floor, Chambers Building and will particularly useful for those who have not submitted an eSTEeM proposal previously. Please confirm your attendance, either in person or remotely, by visiting the registration page by Thursday 1st August.

The estimated duration of the projects above is around 12-18 months with each team member expected to commit a minimum of 10 days. If you would like to register your interest in joining a project group please email indicating which area you are interested in and why. Alternatively, if you already have a worked up proposal in mind then please download a project plan submission form by visiting the links below.

The deadline for expressions of interest and submitting proposals is 17.00 on Friday 30th August 2019.

If you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact us. We look forward to receiving your proposals.

eSTEeM Project Plan Submission Form 2019 (MS Word)

eSTEeM Project Plan Supplementary Information 2019 (PDF)