Evaluating online resources for undergraduates
Engineering Challenges is a module is delivered to all first-year Electronic, Electrical and Electromechanical undergraduates in the School of Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton. The module is primarily a skills-based module, teaching core abilities such as technical writing, experimental design, academic integrity, engineering statistics, and library skills. In previous years, regular disengagement has been witnessed as the semester progresses. This year, half of the physical lectures have been removed, instead placing specially recorded videos of the lecture (supplemented by printable lecture slides and other additional resources) on Blackboard, the institutional VLE. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the students’ perception of online lectures, its impact on quality learning, and the level of student engagement with the module material.
The purpose of this study is to evaluate and analyse the changes being made to the delivery of ELEC1032, to ascertain if they are effective in more effectively delivering teaching materials. Data will be analysed across the student cohort, but also separately for each of six demographic ‘groups’ (combinations of Male/Female, UK/EU/overseas). This will be performed through 3 mechanisms:
Tracking Statistics: Using tracking statistics from BlackBoard, we will be able to see how many students viewed each online session, and identify the days and times that these accesses are taking place. This will allow us to evaluate if students are becoming disengaged with the material as the semester progresses, and also see if they prefer to watch lectures outside of usual University working hours.
Questionnaires: At two stages during the semester (mid-way and towards the end), students will complete a questionnaire asking them to rate each of the online sessions that they have watched, and give any opinions that they may have of the online material.
Interviews: 24 of the students will be invited to take part in interviews/focus groups to obtain more detailed qualitative feedback. The invited students will be random selected, but ‘induced’ to participate in Part III of this study (the interviews) through a small book token reward (£10). A postgraduate student will be hired to conduct these interviews; this will encourage the participants to give honest opinions, which may be impossible if conducted by me (the module leader).
The findings of this study will help to improve the delivery and provision of teaching materials for this module, and will also influence the adoption of e-learning resources on other modules in the School. Finally, we aim to publish the findings from this study in educational journals to disseminate our findings to other institutions.