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An investigation into the way Jupyter Notebooks enhance learning and teaching on TM351

TM351 Data Management and Analysis has used Jupyter (2019) notebooks for practical work from its inception in 2016 and this project investigated how the notebooks supported students' learning.

Jupyter is a web-based tool that enables students to embed program code and associated discussion in a notebook in the style of a lab book so that they can explain what they were doing and why. Teaching materials include notebooks in the same style, to explain a concept and then show its practical application such that the example can be run. In this way students can return to a project at a later stage and if their notes were sufficient, they or another researcher can repeat the work and study how valid their assumptions were as well as whether their conclusions in a report were justified.

Students completed an online questionnaire after studying the module and this was followed by an in-depth interview to elicit more information about their responses.

Survey respondents reported that they were able to successfully integrate their understanding of the module materials between the VLE (Virtual Learning Environment) website and Jupyter notebooks. Whilst there were some occasional issues in setting up the notebooks most used them without problems, but there were some who found them hard to access, and hard to search.  The use of notebooks limited some students’ ability to study when and where they wanted to as a full computer is required, and there were concerns about if the notebooks should be used to teach theory and a well as the practical work. This suggests that notebooks may not be suitable for all learning needs or preferences.

Most of the students interviewed studied the module by using the notebooks to practice techniques they had learned about in previous session on theory. While for some there had been problems installing or running module software, the help available to them had enabled them to resolve problems and students had enjoyed the module, albeit finding the workload very heavy.

Related Resources: 
PDF icon Dawes and Thomson, Jupyter Notebooks. eSTEeM Final Report.pdf243.5 KB

eSTEeM final report.

PDF icon Dawes and Thomson, Jupyter Notebooks detailed analysis.pdf743.74 KB

Detailed survey analysis.

PDF icon Sharon Dawes and Chris Thomson.pdf198.99 KB

Project poster.