The OU centre for STEM pedagogy
Focusing on what makes for study success is not a new research pursuit – retrospective examination of factors contributing to study success generally reveal that students who do well have a predictable social, cultural, educational and cognitive profile which places them well to succeed. Over a number of years, Open University researchers have developed sophisticated statistical models, based on very large student cohorts, to predict the likelihood of success for students studying OU modules. The models use retrospective data to identify patterns of success for students with a variety of characteristics. These studies have enabled University educational statisticians to accurately predict, even as early as enrolment, which students are most likely to be successful and which more likely to struggle or fail.
In this project data gathered allowed the authors to investigate a hitherto neglected, but important, cohort of successful students – those who really shouldn’t have succeeded because all the odds were stacked against them.
This report focuses on an in-depth study of a small cohort of Mathematics and Science students who have ‘succeeded against the odds’ in their studies. Interviews with these students * have revealed a number of very valuable insights and practices which will provide, not only educationally vulnerable but also educationally able, students and their teachers with both practical and psychological motivational tools and techniques to promote success. The findings from the project have already been incorporated into an Induction Programme for a group of students on a Level 1 Mathematics entry module. This in turn has proved so successful that an adapted version of the Induction Session has been made available to all the students on the 2017 February start for entry level Mathematics & Statistics modules.*
*Funding from eSTEeM enabled the student interviews to be undertaken by two Associate Lecturers, Dave Edwards and Linda Brown.