The OU centre for STEM pedagogy
Having taught on project modules at HNC, HND and final UG level (T452), I have observed that the most intense tutor engagement is when discussing possible topics. Therefore, this project seeks to identity problems students encounter during the generation of their project ideas, and tries to suggests ways to address them.
This project will survey resources available to students at the OU and other HEIs, and academic literature exploring the obstacles to the generation of student project topics together with possible solutions. Based on this, a hypothesis (or a set of hypothesises) will be developed regarding problems in the idea generation process for academic project by students. This will lead to the proposition of possible support strategies to mitigate these issues. In order to test this understanding a toolkit will be developed, most likely in the form of guiding questions together with an evaluation matrix to be either used by students independently or in a workshop setting. In parallel to this, a team of tutors will be recruited to participate in a design critique workshop refining the underlying assumption and the toolkit before deploying it in their modules. The effectiveness of this toolkit (as a proxy of understanding student needs) will be evaluated through two focus groups (one with the tutor team and one with students who used the toolkit). This resource could be made available in the STEM faculty and/or on the OU library website.
This project aims at improving the student experience and enhancing project skills, as it gives guidance in what would otherwise be a very stressful phase toward the end of their degree. At the same time, it should increase the focus the tutor-student contact time on discipline specific matters, thus reducing the tutor workload pressures.