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The FASSTEST blog includes posts from practitioners and researchers exploring a wide range of issues and research findings relevant to teaching and learning in the Arts and Social Sciences in higher education.

Here at The Open University we can draw on particular expertise in online and distance education, and we are especially inspired by The Open University’s mission to be open to people, places, methods and ideas. We are committed to placing innovation at the heart of teaching and learning and to discovering new and better ways to inspire and enable learning, opening up higher education to all, regardless of background or circumstances.

We welcome blog posts from anyone with an interest in the scholarship of teaching and learning, particularly in the Arts and Social Sciences. If you are interested in contributing please get in touch with FASS-Scholarship@open.ac.uk with a title and brief description of what you would like to write about.

Welcome banner for Eden Conference

FASSTEST at the EDEN Digital Learning Europe Annual Conference 2023

The Annual Conference of EDEN Digital Learning Europe was held at Dublin City University 18-20 June 2023.

29th June 2023
Two people sitting at a desk together, studying information on a computer screen. Two further people out of focus in the background

The B.A.M.E. student study experience: Are universities helping or hindering?

It’s mind-boggling that, while 82% of White students obtained a first or a second upper class degree in 2019/20, only 64-79% of Black, and Minority Ethnic (B.A.M.E.) students, depending on their ethnic grouping, did so (Higher Education Statistics Agency [HESA], 2021).

13th December 2022
Image of tree being held by statue of a hand

Why invest more in developing students’ good academic practices?

In a previous blog post, I outlined why and how I had sought to add to the existing efforts to promote the explicit and embedded teaching of good academic practices.  The wider remit of the scholarship project in which I was involved at that time was, in fact, underpinned by three questions I had often pondered and had not had a chance to investigate during my time as Academic Conduct Officer at The Open Univers

19th October 2022
Notebook open in a cafe

‘The Next Chapter’: understanding the ambitions of Creative Writing MA students

Creative Writing inhabits an unusual place in the academy. A well-established and rigorous academic discipline, it also maintains a relationship with commercial publishing with many of today’s successful writers having an MA in the subject. 

The aim of our scholarship project, The Next Chapter, was to understand the career aspirations of students on the Open University’s MA in Creative Writing, and to develop teaching and assessment to support them. 

14th September 2022
Art gallery

Running an Effective Online Gallery Visit

Open University Art History modules have offered optional face to face gallery visits as part of their tutorial offering for decades. Experience shows that there are a number of both tangible and intangible ‘tried and tested’ benefits of these visits for students who might not have many opportunities to do this.

1st September 2022

Enquiry Into the Impact of Extensions

On becoming Module Chairs of one of the Open University’s largest Level 1 entry modules, Introducing the Social Sciences (DD102), myself, Zoe Doye, and my colleague, Ieman Hassan, have become fervent data watchers.  As soon as an assignment cut-off date has passed, we find ourselves in front of our respective computers, impatient to find out the percentage of students who have submitted their assignments.  This we continue to monitor as days and even weeks pass, for our Level 1 students are enthusiastic extension requesters, and it is not unusual to have around a q

22nd August 2022
Student studying on laptop

Study Intensity at the Open University

Most Open University students are studying on a part time basis, registering for one module per academic year. This means that (without any study breaks) a degree can be completed in five or six years. However, we’ve recently seen a substantial increase in the number of students opting to complete their degrees more quickly, with around a third of our students now studying at a higher intensity – the equivalent of a full-time degree.  

7th June 2022
Student studying

The Motivated Student: Academic, Demographic and Emotional Factors in Student Engagement

As Associate Lecturers on DE100 (Investigating Psychology) for some time we had noticed the change in study patterns, where more students were opting for study at fulltime intensity (FTI). With the advent of Covid-19 and the associated restrictions on social interaction, we saw an unprecedented rise in student numbers, and a growing proportion applying for FTI. This we put down to the requirement to study online, so that students who may have applied for places at brick institutions were choosing Open University courses instead as we have such a long track record of quality distance learning provision.  

12th May 2022
Student looking at computer and smiling

Increased Retention and Improved Achievement through Weekly Email Communications

Entering university as a young student is challenging not least because students coming straight from school are used to regular contact and encouragement from teachers up to their final exams.

25th April 2022

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