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Qualification Study websites: uptake and practice

Project leader(s): 
Georgy Holden
Faculty: 
STEM
Status: 
Current

This project sought to understand how the subject sites are being used and how they are perceived by students. The project took the approach of looking at all of the undergraduate subject sites in STEM. These sites vary in scale, some of them serve a single qualification, others serve a range of qualifications related by subject interest, hence, for the purposes of this report and to avoid ambiguity the sites are referred to as 'subject sites' although they are commonly referred to as 'study sites' and occasionally as 'qualification sites'. The sites were developed to support the shifting focus from module to qualification and this study was conducted to discover how successful this has been. The study used four different modes of investigation, data analysis of the overall use of module sites, an analysis of forum usage to gauge student engagement, a student survey to gain quantitative and qualitative information about student use, and perceptions and interviews with colleagues.

The study found that usage of sites and awareness of their existence differs between subjects, with some having far greater student engagement than others. The Mathematics and Statistics site stands out as an exemplar of good practice which manages to engage students with module resources before and between study periods. However, even the best used subject site attracts less than half of the students linked to it, with several sites attracting less than twenty percent of students. The study found that students found accessing the sites difficult and views were expressed that they should have greater visibility, another point identified as a reason sites are not used frequently, is a lack of time and integration with the main module study materials. The study concludes that the full potential of sites to support the student journey has yet to be realised and makes a number of recommendations about the use of the sites and their availability to registrants and also to students not registered for qualifications. It is hoped that the learning from this project will be of interest and use to all those involved with the creation of subject sites and the design of the students' virtual learning environment.

Related resources

Holden, G. (2021) Qualification Study Websites: Uptake and Practice. eSTEeM Final Report (PDF)

Holden, G. (2019) Project poster (PDF)

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