Summer Projects across MaPS

Student input is a critical part of MaPS’ Blended Learning approach. Arguably, everything done should be aiding their learning and improving their experience at the University, so getting them involved in the process of forwarding Blended Learning is a win-win. Not only do projects and internships produce great outcomes, they also give the lucky few students that are successful in securing a funded position a real insight into what it’s like to be on the other end of the lecture theatre, producing the material consumed by their peers. They’re also able to bring their own perspective of what will work best when it comes to producing something that will be received well by other students.

Screenshots from one of the videos produced by Natasha Clark with Miles Ratcliffe

Prior to the Summer of 2017, a number of academics across the four schools proposed projects that would benefit greatly from a student’s input. Unfortunately, the funding only goes so far, but after a selection process, six students were successful in being recruited: two into Maths, one Physics, one Chemistry, and two for Food Science. There was an interesting split between what the projects focused on, with three of them producing a plethora of videos to aid other students’ learning, two making a series of e-assessments for both summative and formative testing, and one helping to build an online resource that spans an entire school.

If you’re in the MaPS faculty and have ideas for your own Blended Learning projects, then do send your proposals to Richard Ansell, and you could find him funding the position. Who knows what projects will be undertaken this coming Summer…

Below, are summaries of the projects undertaken in the words of the supervisors responsible for the work done. The full reports can be found by clicking the headings.

Wanqian Yang – Dr Graham Murphy – Mathematics

“…After a number of weeks work, Wanqian was able to produce two test assignments containing a number of questions across the syllabus of MATH2515. Each question in the assignment is designed so that parameters are randomised and each student is being assessed on a different version of the same basic problem. The assignments require the use of some other means of calculation and we had to write the problems in such a way that students are forced to use a computer to perform the calculations (rather than solve the problem using pen, paper and a calculator). In this case the students were encouraged to use Excel which they have experience in from MATH1510 and MATH2515 practical classes. The summative assessment will be combined with a qualitative mark based on how well the student prepares the Excel file to perform the calculations.

Below are some screenshot outputs…”

Nicholas Clare – Drs Kevin Houston and Margit Messmer – Mathematics

“I have devoted the majority of my time on this project to producing a series of tutorial videos that focus mainly on the skill of proof writing, something that new students often find challenging. My reasoning behind producing videos rather than a document with detailed examples is because from my own experience something is often lost when reading over a result or proof you don’t fully understand. Having someone work through the problem at a certain pace, explaining where each step comes from is often useful in ensuring a firm understanding. Some of these videos would look at the type of problem a student might typically face in a homework or exam such as those on proof by induction, but most looked at proving more general statements with the idea of demonstrating some proof writing techniques that might be applicable in a variety of scenarios.”

Mantas Zilinskas – Dr Alison Voice – Physics and Astronomy

“Mantas Zilinskas worked as an intern in the School of Physics & Astronomy in the summer of 2017 to create some truly exceptional videos about experimental work in physics. These have been so successful that we are able to use them not only to inform and inspire our own undergraduate students but to provide explanation and context for A Level candidates, particularly in the light of changing syllabi and newly introduced practical endorsements. These videos also have wider appeal and are being used as part of our marketing and outreach material, with particular relevance for UCAS and Open Days, to reach a wider audience than has been possible previously.

One of the key features of this suite of videos is…”

Daniel Clarke – Dr Melvin Holmes – Food Science and Nutrition

“The blended learning intern was requested to assist in the continued development of the FSN Statistics resource site . . . This resource was intended to be accessible by Minerva for staff and students and to provide a range of statistical resources including lecture materials on specific statistical theory and their application across a range of food science modules and research activities.  The remit was to introduce material on the site and organise in a relational structure to link topics to relevant study years and related modules and so facilitate easy navigation and encourage repeated usage and so enhance the student learning experience and comprehension. Utilising a blended learning approach…”

Natasha Clark – Miles Ratcliffe – Food Science and Nutrition

“We took an approach to create online resources (available mainly through Minerva and our AV resources in the School teaching facilities) to complement our practical class delivery based on previous feedback from students and other ideas we as staff had previously discussed.

We have a strong practical component on all of our courses and it is sometimes felt by students (and staff!) that upon entering the lab classes themselves that experiments can be daunting and that time to familiarise themselves with the equipment laid out for them often compromises learning outcomes and staff contact time as sometimes the whole first portion of a class is identifying how to conduct the experiment rather than focussing on the actual results and processes which often is rushed in the latter portion of the class due to obvious time constraints. We thought that by offering introductory videos on the exact equipment to be used in short visual ‘snapshots’ that the students can view before they attend the class that we could speed up the first portion of the class therefore improving on results discussion and outcomes…”

Jack White – Dr Nimesh Mistry – Chemistry

“The assessment burden for both staff and students is well known and addressing this is a key priority in the School’s student education strategy. We saw the opportunity of e- assessment to streamline the assessment process and enhance the feedback we could give to students so we decided that the remit of the internship should be developing electronic assessments (e-assessment) for various modules in chemistry.

The intern worked with lecturers and module leaders to implement e-assessment in their courses. The most common approach was to develop assessments integrated within the VLE. The intern often…”

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