- Project leader(s): Anne CampbellMark JonesAnne-Marie Gallen
- Theme: Supporting students
- Faculty: STEM
- Status: Archived
- Dates: May 2018 to January 2023
Winner of the 6th eSTEeM Scholarship Projects of the Year Awards 2023.
The aim of this project was to explore student expectations and experiences of face-to-face (i.e., physically co-located) and online tuition in groups and to analyse these findings with reference to an earlier project in which we examined tutor perceptions of tuition in groups. The study cohort was drawn from Stage 1 STEM students on five modules. The project involved a large-scale survey, conducted in April/May 2019 followed by in-depth interviews with eight students. Analysis of the work was paused in 2020 due to the global pandemic, but in 2022 the student survey was repeated on a similar cohort of students to establish whether online experiences during the pandemic have changed student attitudes to online tuition. The key findings of the project are:
- In both face-to-face and online tutorials students express a strong preference for them to be based on a mixture of presentational materials and learning activities.
- More use is made of learning activities in face-to-face tutorials than online although the latter has seen some growth between 2019 and 2022.
- The opportunity to ask questions in tutorials is very highly valued. Ensuring that these opportunities exist and that questions are answered to students’ satisfaction should be a high priority for teaching staff.
- Some students are anxious about participation in tutorials. In some cases, this arises from misconceptions about their format. More should be done to help students understand the benefit of tutorials to their learning and to develop their confidence to participate.
- The major barrier to participation in face-to-face tuition is related to time and/or travel implications. For online tutorials, non-participation seems to be dominated by students who would rather watch recordings and those who prefer to avoid social interaction.
- Working in small groups is expected in face-to-face tutorials but is thought not to be important in the online context. Reasons for the latter likely include previous tutorial experience, expectation of a recorded resource, and a preference of avoiding social interactions.
- In current practice, online group activities are typically based on discussion of individual responses to questions rather than fostering student collaboration on learning tasks.
- Following the covid pandemic most students claim to be more confident in using synchronous communications technologies for online tuition. However, students very strongly disagree with the idea of using their webcams in online tutorials. There was a wide variety of experience in the pandemic with about 12% of students reporting that they did not gain experience of online meetings during that time.
Please also view phase one of this project Perceptions, Expectations and Experience of Group Tuition: towards a shared understanding amongst stakeholders.