The OU centre for STEM pedagogy
SDK228, Science of the mind: Investigating mental health was a level two interdisciplinary Life, Health and Chemical Science (LHCS) module that attracted students from a variety of backgrounds including health and natural sciences, health and social care, nursing, psychology and counselling. These varying backgrounds resulted in some students struggling with different aspects of the module, for example some health science students struggled with psychology elements while psychology students struggled with biological components of the module (as evidenced in assessment as well as feedback from tutors and students). To provide support for the students, the tuition strategy which consisted of cluster-based face to face (F2F) tutorials and equivalent online events, as well as online tutor group tutorials, was enhanced with a set of additional large informal module wide workshops for the 19J presentation (following a short pilot in 18J).
This report evaluates these additional informal module wide workshops from a student perspective. Students were surveyed at the end of each module wide workshop (12 times) and again at the end of the presentation. Student behaviour such as use of polls, chat boxes and break out room activity was collected ‘live’ at each workshop. The SDK228 ALs involved in data collection and providing the workshops were surveyed at the end of the presentation too.
The findings suggest that students enjoyed attending these large informal module wide workshops and that the workshops enhanced the students’ understanding and knowledge of module materials. Students felt the workshops had impacted on their studies of SDK228. The use of break out rooms, chat and polls encouraged interaction within each workshop. Some students reported gaining confidence and they appreciated the community building aspect of attending the workshops. The ALs enjoyed the format of the workshops but recognised the need for time and practice to create the content and to ensure their own confidence in delivery of the workshops.
Recommendations include adding large informal workshops/tutorials to modules where student community, interaction and confidence in module material would be a benefit.