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Online Team Investigations in Science (OTIS)

Aims: By taking a comparative approach between three online team investigations in planetary science and astronomy, this project aims to investigate the factors that may be important in determining the effectiveness of such activities. The areas for investigation will be:

  • Pedagogic design.
  • Use of online communication tools.
  • Student engagement and ownership of task.
  • Peer-learning in a distance environment.
  • Assessment strategies.
  • Group dynamics and conflict resolution in an online setting.

Methodology: The project will consider three online team investigations: S382 Variable stars using the PIRATE robotic telescope; S382 Quasar spectra using the SDSS archival data; S818 Mars Rover simulation. We will adopt two approaches: a synoptic analysis of online communications (forums, wiki, Adobe connect) and in-depth interviews with a sample of students. The synoptic approach will allow us to analyse trends of behaviour and identify factors and themes that require deeper study. The interviews will probe student perceptions and will allow in-depth questioning: this will be especially useful for eliciting views that students are unlikely to share in the team setting.

Application: We believe that a deeper understanding of team working investigations is important for the development of similar teaching tasks across STEM, but also more generally across the University. We expect that the findings of the studies will be a valuable contribution to the professional practice of staff that are planning, designing or running similar activities. Furthermore, this study will be of interest to the wider HE community in terms of its analysis of student engagement, and its applicability to employability in an increasingly online world. We also anticipate that the project will have higher-level implications for the University’s approach to collaborative online learning.


Related Resources: 
PDF icon Mark Jones poster.pdf91 KB

Project poster.

File Mark Jones.pptx390.3 KB

Conference presentation.