Video diaries: aid for laboratory report writing
Dr Jo Wallace, Aberystwyth University
This poster will detail the benefits of using video media to capture an assessed laboratory practical. The aim to improve retention of information and to deliver a student designed visual prompt for when they come to write their assessments. A laboratory based equivalent to lecture capture.
Understanding retention and engagement in blended learning
Karen Twiselton, University of the Highlands and Islands
The Community of Inquiry (CoI) framework suggests that successful online learning is comprised of three presences: cognitive presence, social presence and teaching presence, each of which is characterised by a range of factors (Garrison, Anderson & Archer, 2003). These factors may be useful in identifying how best to support student retention and engagement with online learning materials. This study considers students experience of an optional attended component of an online psychology degree in terms of their experience and the way this might impact the three presences identified by Garrison et al. Follow-up interviews identified a range of themes which can be conceptualised through the CoI framework.
Mathematics teaching and learning in FdEng programmes on a FE context: design of a unified mathematics curriculum
Dr Joana Amorim, Oxford Brookes University
The session seeks to answer the question: How to design a unified mathematics curriculum for Foundation Degree programmes in Engineering (FdEng) that is fit for purpose, while creating a community of practice amongst the maths tutoring team?
The presentation will explain what factors we took into account in the restructure of the mathematics provision in a set of FdEng programmes with the objective of improving the syllabuses, the teaching materials, the assessment strategy and the overall approach to teaching by the team. The problem is a particularly challenging one because these programmes are delivered in a FE context and students enter the FdEng programmes generally with lower qualifications in Mathematics (when compared with students entering a BSc programme). An Inclusive Curriculum Design approach was essential for the success of this project.
Graduate skills - a common language to define them
Emma Weston, University of Nottingham
Work to establish the critical skills required for graduates joining the food industry has commenced. Currently there is limited tailored information for skill sets needed for these possible career pathways so this is aimed to be clearly established. However in order to answer these questions the language used for describing actual skills or competencies needs to be defined. Once these definitions are determined they can then be consistently applied by both researcher and participants for the next stages of the project. The poster outlines the process currently underway in acquiring this ‘common language of skills’. This is something that may be of interest to other researchers or academics involved in professional skills teaching and also those in career and recruitment focussed roles.
Research skills in Pharmacology: enhancing relevant research skills for Pharmacology students
Dr Andy Grant, King’s College London
Undergraduates have the chance to carry out laboratory-based experimental projects, or spend an “extra-mural” year working in an industrial or academic research environment. Increasing class sizes and pressure on university resources have reduced opportunities for practical experience during the first two years of a degree. The use of practical classes as the basis for summatively assessed laboratory reports also encourages the use of formulaic “experiments” with a rigid structure and an expectation that most students will get the “correct” result. Thus the laboratory experience gained by students during the first two years of their degrees bears little resemblance to the real nature of scientific research. Students also show an overall lack of insight into the scientific method. This poster describes our creation of a module for Pharmacology and related bioscience students in the second year of their degrees to better prepare them to work in a professional research environment.
Understanding effective feedback within an internationalised institution
Dr Lisa Coneyworth, University of Nottingham
Data from the National Student Survey (NSS) routinely highlights a need to improve student satisfaction with regards to effective assessment and feedback methods. The 2015 NSS survey identified 73 % of students were satisfied with assessment and feedback methods at their university. Although the proportion of students satisfied in this category has increased over the years it is clear that there is still scope to improve in this area and ultimately enhance the learning process. The aim of this study was to understand current expectations and perceptions of effective feedback from students studying within the School of Biosciences at the University of Nottingham. Further, the study aimed to identify any key differences in expectations or perceptions between home and international students. A deeper understanding will help to manage student expectations more appropriately and help to ensure that feedback is provided in an effective way to enhance student learning and student experience.
Fieldwork meets in field teaching: Lessons from the Himalaya
Dr Jen O’Brian, University of Manchester
This poster analyses the recent third year University of Manchester Geography course, Understanding the Himalayan Landscape, a 20 credit module that was delivered entirely in the Indian Himalayan. In the summer before their final year Physical and Human Geographers were invited to participate in a two week journey through the Indian Himalayas to conduct independent research in Leh. Flying over the Himalayas the students delivered preliminary findings in a group assessed presentation at Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi, before writing up their research for submission. The unique module pushed the boundaries of fieldwork but in turn posed a number of difficult practical and pedagogic questions. Beyond issues of health and safety and risk, assessing what many students called a ‘once in a life time experience’ posed problems, particularly trying to bridge the epistemological and ontological differences between physical and human geography. The poster will share experiences and critically evaluate the course in hope to stimulate other infield taught modules.
Enhancing communication and feedback: developing a common language
Dr Emma Haycraft, Loughborough University
Feedback provided as part of formative or summative assessments helps students to become aware of any gaps that exist in their current knowledge, understanding, or skill (Sadler, 1989). Feedback therefore offers a powerful tool for supporting the academic journey. However, there can be a discrepancy between staff and student perceptions of feedback. Therefore, the aim of this project is to enhance feedback practices and promote better two-way communication between students and staff. The specific objectives are to:
- Improve student and staff knowledge and understanding of formative and summative feedback.
- Improve communication between staff and students, particularly in relation to feedback.
Preliminary interviews/focus groups with staff members and students have identified differences in their perceptions of feedback. An initial survey has been conducted with first year psychology students, during their second week of study, to identify their perceptions of what constitutes feedback; the results of which will be discussed.
The ‘real value’ of field trips in the early weeks of higher education: The student perspective
Dr Cathy Walsh, Liverpool Hope University
The benefits attributed to field trips by science educators are: social development; observation and perception skills; giving meaning to learning; providing first-hand experience and stimulating interest and motivation. Arguably, the ‘real value’ of field work is attributed by students. In this study, 100 first year students took part in an analysis of the value of a residential field trip. The field trip was a purposeful combination of personal development and academic activities. Pairwise comparison showed that the attributed value score for ‘Personal and Social Development’ was significantly higher than the value scores for other benefits attributed to field trips by tutors rather than students. This finding provides an insight into students’ own perceptions of field work and should recast our thinking as educators. Field trips are clearly a significant mechanism through which to build social capita, a key factor in student persistence and subsequent academic success, and therefore should be a cornerstone of student retention strategies.
Using GradeMark to improve feedback and engage students in the marking process
Dr Alison Graham, Newcastle University
Students frequently express frustration with assessment and feedback. Many students would like markers to pose challenges or praise successes and provide feedback that allows students to ask questions about their learning. Our project aimed to improve the clarity of marking criteria and link feedback more explicitly to criteria. We began by developing new marking criteria and provided a series of tutorials that gave opportunities for students to practice using the criteria to mark exemplars. Following this, GradeMark was trialled as an electronic platform to provide feedback on coursework. Within GradeMark, we developed libraries of feedback specific to a particular assessment and its marking criteria. This allowed us to pose questions to students to improve their understanding and provide positive feedback. Using a bank of feedback comments improves consistency between markers and allows a dialogue to take place that follows from the tutorials but is not heavily reliant on staff time.
Students show preference for criterion‐based feedback on exam essays
Dr Emma Whitt, University of Nottingham
Providing useful feedback is one of the biggest challenges in higher education. The aims of the current project were to investigate student perceptions of criterion-based feedback and students’ understanding of using feedback to improve their work. The current project expanded on work reported at previous HEA conference (Grayson & Lamb, 2014). For an exam-based essay students received criterion-based feedback as well as open comments. This method of feedback took less time for the marker than hand writing comments. Responses to a survey showed that students liked receiving criterion-based feedback and they understood the feedback that they received. Students’ understanding of using the feedback to improve their work was fair. Training or education about the marking scheme and guidance on how to use it in conjunction with feedback would help students in the future.
Ask a clearer question, get a better answer: critical thinking and inquisitiveness
Dr Dominic Charles Henri, University of Hull
Many undergraduate students struggle to engage with higher order skills such as evaluation and synthesis in written assignments, either because they do not understand that these are the aim of written assessment or because these critical thinking skills require more effort than writing a descriptive essay. In this poster, we report that students who attended a freely available workshop, in which they were coached to pose a question in the title of their assignment and then use their essay to answer that question, obtained higher marks for their essay than those who did not attend. We demonstrate that this is not a result of latent academic ability amongst students who chose to attend our workshops and suggest this increase in marks was a result of greater engagement with ‘critical thinking’ skills, which are essential for upper 2:1 and 1st class grades.
This tutoring method we used holds two particular advantages: First, we allow students to pick their own topics of interest, which increases ownership of learning, which is associated with motivation and engagement in ‘difficult’ tasks. Second, this method integrates the development of ‘inquisitiveness’ and critical thinking into subject specific learning, which is thought to be more productive than trying to develop these skills in isolation.
We would like to consider the long lasting impact of the intervention on our students, as well as the potential to implement the design in other disciplines.
Henri D, Morrell L and Scott G. Ask a clearer question, get a better answer. F1000Research 2015, 4:901 (doi: 10.12688/f1000research.7066.1)
The triumphs and trials of embedding employability into the first year BSc Medical Sciences curriculum
Dr Jean Assender, University of Birmingham
With employability now a priority for higher education institutions, we developed a first year module (Introduction to Research and Experimental Skills), specifically to embed skills teaching into the curriculum, right from the outset of the students’ University journey. To engage students with the possibilities of their programme, inspirational research leaders were asked to talk about key research themes and the links between these and the course contents. Skills training such as literature searching, producing oral presentations and experimental design was also linked to research lab tours to give a practical theme to these activities. Whilst most students really appreciated these session many researchers found them challenging, implying there is still work to be done to educate the educators.
How can Mathematics students become confident communicators through writing?
Dr Chinny Nzekwe-Excel, Aston University
Mathematics graduates are perceived by employers as being equipped with problem solving skills but tend to be deficient on written communication. Communication through writing is a skill that arguably cuts across nearly all disciplines, mathematics inclusive, however written assessments are not commonly used in mathematics discipline. A sample of first-year mathematics students’ perceptions of writing show that some of the students view developing writing skills as irrelevant for their degree, flagging the need for a reorientation of the perceptions of mathematics tutors and students on the relevance of communication/ writing skills for mathematics graduates. Therefore, this study proposes the inclusion of compulsory/ assessed writing sessions in the Mathematics Degree Program aimed at equipping students in the area of critical thinking, and writing. The sessions, which are designed using tailor-made interactive strategies are successively integrated in the Program-Structure thereby fostering an interest in these skills as well as enabling the students develop the confidence in engaging fully with the benefits associated with communication/ writing skills.
Enhancing student learning: exploring innovative techniques in engineering education — a researcher perspective
Dr Arnesh Vijay, Nokia Networks Ltd
Engineering education has always been one of the most feared disciplines chosen for graduate studies. This can be partially attributed to the tough comprehension in understanding the underlying theoretical principles (which partly requires imagination); and secondly, the lack of exceptional teaching practices adopted by the engineering tutor to facilitate learning amongst a diverse range of students. To address these challenges, there is no doubt a requirement for vast effort from the student; but equally mandatory to adopt creative and innovative teaching practices from the lecturers’ perspective — techniques which can accelerate and deepen student thoughts, to cope with the fast growing technical world.
In this poster, I would like to briefly outline the importance of introducing creative methods in teaching engineering, and discuss some prolific techniques to specifically enhance learning in students studying telecommunication subjects. This, is to ensure, that they are well equipped with the required skill-set and knowledge to work in the rapidly expanding communication industry.
The poster will comprise different sections; firstly, starting with a discussion on the need for advanced teaching practices in engineering, focusing on the discordance between the current state-of-art teaching techniques and student learning styles. Then the subsequent segments will continue in examining a selective set of existing good practices, and propose different creative methods in enhancing student teaching in higher education. In this, various facets of teaching will be considered, like: how to enhance creativity and critical learning amongst students, and by what methods can group learning be improved. A new strategy recently adopted by the industry called “cooperative-competitive learning” will be discussed, and its adoptability into classroom environment will be pondered. In addition, the benefits of other techniques like: “learning through teaching”, “case study based learning” and “effective problem solving” will be reviewed; with a modified and improved version of similar kinds being proposed. The main intention of this poster is undoubtedly to highlight the importance of new methods for teaching engineering, but additionally to explore the possibilities to improve the existing teaching practices, thereby enhancing the lecturer-pupil relationship.
The student-as-consumer approach in higher education and its effects on academic performance for STEM undergraduates
Dr Louise Bunce, University of Winchester
Students studying at universities in England have been defined as customers by the government since the introduction of student tuition fees (Dearing et al., 1997). Although this approach has been rejected by educators, there is a lack of empirical evidence about the extent to which students express a consumer orientation on academic performance. These issues were examined in the current study by surveying 608 undergraduates at Higher Education Institutions in England about their consumer attitudes and behaviours, learner identity, grade goal and academic performance. The analysis revealed that consumer orientation mediated traditional relationships between learner identity and grade goal on academic performance, and found that a higher consumer orientation was associated with lower academic performance. Furthermore, higher responsibility for payment of tuition fees and studying a STEM subject were associated with a higher consumer orientation and subsequently lower academic performance. Implications for academic performance are discussed.
Tackling the teacher shortage – peer mentoring of STEM students for outreach and engagement using trainee teachers
John Thornby, University of Warwick
Student societies for STEM subjects at the University of Warwick are engaged in outreach activities by providing science workshops for local schools. The Centre for Professional Education (CPE) is partnering with these societies to support this work by facilitating mentoring for undergraduate students by trainee science teachers who are currently studying for their PGCE.
The driving force for this project is to enhance school children’s interest in science at an early stage, with a view to widening participation and improving uptake of STEM subjects at A-level and in Higher Education. However, there are other perceived benefits for all stakeholders.
A key aim of this work is to enhance the quality of workshops provided by STEM students by equipping them with the basic tools of education: planning, presentation skills and elementary pedagogy. This will also develop students’ transferrable skills for employability, including communication and team working, while also building confidence. By working with trainee teachers, STEM students will gain an insight into life in a school environment and associated issues such as safeguarding. Through participation in this project, trainee teachers will gain valuable experience in their development as practitioners and build evidence toward meeting the Teachers’ Standards.
The final aim of this project is to strengthen the partnership between CPE, STEM departments and representatives from professional associations (IoP, RSB and RSC), with a view to raising the profile of the teaching profession and improve recruitment and retention into teacher training for shortage subjects.
Student perceptions of automated marking and feedback system in computing
Dr Suraj Ajit, University of Northampton
The recent National Student Survey (NSS) results for taught courses in Higher Education Institutions have once again revealed that assessment and feedback have obtained the lowest scores when compared to other aspects such as teaching, academic support, organisation and management, learning resources, personal development and overall satisfaction. This pattern is consistent with the scores obtained over the last ten years. It is imperative that universities need to look into ways of improving these scores. The Computing department at the University of Northampton have developed a prototype tool to provide automated instant feedback to formative assessments for modules teaching programming. Evaluation of the tool by students has produced encouraging results and led to following research questions: a) What is the state-of-the art in automated marking? b) Can automated marking and feedback systems enhance student learning, engagement and experience? c) Could they be developed for other areas in STEM? d) Could they be used for summative assessments? e) Is the quality of automated feedback superior to manual feedback? Preliminary results of the research project are presented in the poster.
Full circle: The value of hindsight as final year students reflect on prior year peer guidance
Sue Beckingham, Sheffield Hallam University
Students taking courses in Business and Enterprise are required to submit their dissertation thesis in January, so time management skills are very important. Primary research was undertaken to get feedback from final year students that could then be fed forward to the following year.
Initial research was undertaken with a group of final year students and comments are captured from two focus groups. A World Café approach was taken and an informal discussion. The main theme was 'what went well and what would you do differently?'
Questions asked to stimulate discussion focused on the following topics:
- the value of the lectures
- time management
- understanding referencing
- organising tutor time
- personal reflection
The feedback was collated as an infographic which included student quotes and a selection of tips recommended by both the students and the tutor. The visual infographic was then shared in presentation style to the new cohort.
To evaluate the usefulness of peer guidance, current students were invited to take part in informal interviews. The outcomes are captured in the second part of this poster providing a reflective account of the value of a feedback and feed forward continuum.
Learning outcomes tracking system (L.O.T.S) – seeing student progress as term progresses
Malcolm Hutchison, Queen’s University, Belfast
At QUB we have constructed a system that allows students to self-assess their capability on the fine grained learning outcomes for a module and to update their record as the term progresses.
In the system each of the learning outcomes are linked to the relevant teaching session (lectures and labs) and to [online] resources that students can access at any time. Students can structure their own learning experience to their needs to attain the learning outcomes. The system keeps a history of the student’s record, allowing the lecturer to observe how the students’ abilities progress over the term and to compare it to assessment results. The system also keeps of any of the resource links that student has clicked on. This poster describes the initial trial run with a class of 100 level 2 students.