The OU centre for STEM pedagogy
The purpose of this research is to engage with Stage 2 engineering students, studying T272 Core Engineering B module, about different modes of online activities and how effective these are in engaging, informing, and reinforcing their learning. In T272, students take part in three key activities that are designed to reflect practice and introduce them to content included in future modules; these include Finite Element Analysis (FEA), the OpenEngineering Laboratory (part of the OpenSTEM labs) and interactive online Maths simulations. This project aims to better understand student perceptions about these three sets of activities and determine appropriate next steps to better support this learning.
To effectively capture and better understand student perceptions about the three activity areas, a three-phase research process was developed. In phase 1, students were asked to complete Real Time Student Feedback (RTSF) questionnaires throughout their T272 module to reflect on the different activities as they happened. A small number of students also took part in semi-structured interviews that explored their understandings and interpretations of the activities more deeply. These methods produced qualitative and quantitative data that supported phase 2. The outputs from Phase 2 led to devising and implementing additional maths tutorials for the following module presentation. These changes responded to concerns raised by students and addressed proposed learning gaps around the understanding of the maths content. For phase 3, RTSF questionnaires were redeployed and semi-structured interviews with new students were conducted in the updated module presentation.
They key findings from this research project were:
The knowledge gained from this project will inform future curriculum developments and current presentation practices.