Science started here

Sadly, the final presentation of S154 Science starts here has now ended. It was a 10-credit module so didn’t fit well with the 30-credit study intensity that is necessary for English students to get funding. But it was a lovely little module – popular with students and tutors alike, and highly effective in preparing students to study the longer S104 Exploring science.

S154’s assessment strategy was written to be complementary to that of S104, so it was at first something of a mystery when a ‘different’ student behaviour was observed on S154. The figures below show the way in which three individual (but typical) students interacted with a lightly-weighted  S154 iCMA. The red dot indicates the date on which the student first engaged with the iCMA and the blue dots indicate subsequent interactions.

‘Student 1’ is typical of many students, on S154 and all other modules – the last-minute merchants! (spot the iCMA’s cut-off date…). ‘Student 2’ is also typical of many students on many modules – the student starts the iCMA and completes the questions that they can; then over the next week or so, they use the feedback to improve on their answers to the other questions.

‘Student 3’ is typical for S154 but not for other modules. How odd I thought! But it turns out that there is a very simple explanation. S154 was an introductory module, with careful scaffolding. When students had completed Chapter 2 they were advised to attempt the first 4 questions on the iCMA; when they had completed Chapter 3 they were advised to attempt the next 2 questions; when they had completed Chapter 4 they were advised to attempt the final 4 questions. And that was exactly what they did! If surprises some people, but I have found on many occasions that students actually do what they think that they are expected to do.

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