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How are students using extensions and what is the impact on success?

Project leader(s): 
Catherine Halliwell and Cath Brown

Tutors have reported dealing with increasing numbers of requests for TMA extensions from L2 students studying Life and Health sciences. Potentially this causes problems for students with important material being rushed, and, particularly towards the end of module(s), numerous deadlines pushed together. It is predicted that the number of students studying at full time intensity will increase (Insight, 2018), so deadline clashes will be a problem for an increasing number of students.

This issue is already apparent in L2 Life and Health science modules; students commonly study two thirty-credit modules simultaneously, with those on full-time intensity studying four out of SK299, S294, S295 or SDK228, SXHL288. For example in 18J 432 out of 559 students registered for S294 are studying another module (SST Tool). The same problem is likely to occur in other disciplines across STEM Faculty with a high dependence on 30 credit modules, for example physics and astronomy.

Our research questions are:-

  •  Whether the number of extension requests a student makes is associated with the number of modules they are studying
  • Whether the number of extensions relates to success on the  module in terms of grade attained, or pass/fail/defer
  • Whether students are actively using extension requests to balance their workload across multiple modules

We will perform a statistical analysis to address the first two questions, and a qualitative discussion to address the latter question. Subject to appropriate statistical results, there is also the potential for a simple predictive model to be developed that will aid the planning of appropriate interventions by SST, module teams and ALs.

The answers to these questions have the potential to inform the following within life and health sciences:-

  • advice given to students proposing to study these modules regarding study intensity
  • advice given about more and less suitable combinations of modules
  • discussions between ALs and their students concerning the advisability of extensions
  • module teams regarding “pinch points” for assessment, allowing for consideration of alteration of the assessment model
  • resources and support for students studying at high intensities

Broader impacts could include:-

  • Generalising to other subject areas with a similar pattern of modules and study intensity;
  • Laying foundations for more general study of approaches to support students studying at high intensity, in line with the student success priority of supporting full time and flexible study
  • Potentially feeding into the work being carried out by PVC Students office on approaches to granting extensions
  • Informing the university’s work on different, more innovative or flexible modes of assessment.

Halliwell, C. and Brown, C. (2019) poster