The OU centre for STEM pedagogy
Residential schools are essential for accreditation of our engineering qualifications by Professional Engineering Institutions and they have had to be temporarily replaced by a set of practical engineering activities due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Students will be sent a Home Experiment Kit and be supported by synchronous and asynchronous tuition during June and July 2021. There are four cohorts involved; T176 20B; T276 20B; T176 21B and T276 21B totalling approximately 1800 students. T176 students have no previous experience of a residential school, but the majority of the T276 students will have attended a residential school in the recent past. Students will be supported by Group and Activity tutors.
This phase consists of a surveying a representative group of students from each cohort, via comprehensive questionnaires, which would be conducted at the start of the period, at the end of each activity and in the final week of the practical engineering activities (w/b 24/07). Activity tutors would be surveyed at the end of each weekly activity and group tutors at the start and end of the period. The aim is to understand students’ study experience and whether they encountered any difficulties using the kits which affected their engagement and learning as well as understanding which activities have worked well and which have presented challenges for students/tutors. Real-time student feedback will be used to supplement information obtained from the more detailed surveys. We would also like to understand the experience of tutors and whether the tuition and support structures enabled them to work with students effectively.
This phase would consist of individual interviews with both Stage 1 and Stage 2 students to gain a deeper understanding of their study experience on T176 and T276 and any ideas they have for future provision of practical work. For example, does the experience of those who have previously attended a residential school differ from those who have not? Alongside, we would carry out in-depth interviews with tutors – both existing ALs and those who were recruited short-term to support the experiments. Student and tutor views and their perceptions of the value of practical engineering to an academic qualification in engineering and to the wider employability needs will also form part of the interviewing.
Compare module results for the four cohorts listed above with previous years to see if there is any statistical difference in pass and progression rates and student satisfaction.