The OU centre for STEM pedagogy
The correspondence tuition that tutors provide, via the TMAs, is a key part of our teaching and support to students and represents a major investment of time and effort by tutors. Around 10%-15% of marked TMA scripts are not picked up by undergraduate students across STEM (the exact figure varies between modules) and the figure is slightly less across the undergraduate programme as a whole across the university. Considerations of rates of pickup by students could form a standard part of regular module reviews.
This project was divided into four main threads:
Students on two statistics modules and two economics modules were involved in the project: level 1 modules M140 and DD126 and level 2 modules M248 and DD209.
Students value generic comments such as ‘Make sure you do exactly what the question is asking’, while they are irritated by repetition on the covering document (PT3) of comments already made on the script. If the PT3/script separation is to be retained under the new marking system (WISEFLOW), greater clarity is needed as to the roles of the two elements.
Training for new tutors needs to make even clearer the importance to students of encouragement and positive reinforcement – the fact that TMA marking is a form of teaching cannot be too strongly emphasised.
Completely generic, ‘advice to students from students’ material which we have prepared as part of this project, might be more widely adopted by other modules than the four we have targeted.