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STEM Conference 2017 Poster abstracts

Below are the abstracts for Posters for the STEM Conference 2017

Enhancing the Psychology Student Journey Through STEM Outreach
Dr Kimberley Hill Ms Linda Davis-Sinclair  
The University of Northampton

Psychology is a valuable Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) discipline but one which could do far more at communicating its value to the wider public. This poster discusses Psychology’s inclusion in The University of Northampton’s STEM approach considering challenges surrounding activity provision recruitment engagement and cross-discipline collaboration. It will be suggested that these activities enhance the Psychology STEM journey by providing students with valuable professional experience and by fostering the development of employability-related skills beyond those obtained during their degree. Despite challenges Psychology STEM outreach activities not only improve participation and engagement but may also improve Psychology’s STEM membership.

Perceptions and attitudes of undergraduate students to reading
Biological Sciences
Dr Alison Graham Dr Sara Marsham Newcastle University

The study aimed to explore the attitudes perceptions and confidence of undergraduate students towards reading academic material with a view to identify any important themes that could be examined in future research. Focus groups were conducted with students from each undergraduate stage in the three Schools.  Students were asked about their reading habits, confidence with reading and expectations for independent study.  Students’ reading habits are influenced by several different factors and academic staff should consider these when designing courses.

Student ownership and rewards for group work
Biological Sciences
Dr Rachel Hallet      
Bangor University

In higher education we can identify issues whereby grades-driven students have poor engagement with exercises designed to enhance transferable skills.In this poster presentation we aim to describe and appraise a classroom activity that attempts to counter some of these problems.

Students choose an activity (mini-lecture designing MCQs presenting clinical scenarios) to pursue in a group over the course of 6 weeks culminating in a student-led teaching session.

Grades-based reward comes in two forms. We reflect on the combination of pedagogical practices and their influence on student feedback concerning depth of engagement value perception and feelings of ownership of the learning.

Engineering design – problem based learning through a real life group project
Miss Xiaojun (Ping) Yin Dr Jude Clancy  Swansea University

A real life on-going building project on the university campus was used as the basis for both teaching and assessment of the second year Civil Engineering Design Practice module at Swansea University. The problem based learning and the group work nature of this module has helped students to develop critical thinking teamwork and communication skills which are essential attributes for a successful graduate. The simulation of a real life design exercise has helped to improve student engagement. This poster session will outline the pedagogy assessment strategy of this design module and share the evaluation of its impact.

How can we ensure that students are engaging when flipping?
Dr Elley Wakui Dr Mary-Jane Budd  University of East London

We examined student engagement with the flipped classroom in our Foundation Year Psychology Research Methods module especially the pre-recorded lecture aspect. Benefits of flipping are increasingly reported but practicalities such as engagement with pre-recorded materials are less so. We gathered anecdotal experiences of students and tutors of this flipped class and understandings of reasons to flip and how best to make use of the material. Critical reflection raised issues around balancing surveillance motivation and necessity to view. In our class we suggest group quizzes with questions given in advance balanced scaffolding self-directed learning habits and monitoring whilst engaging our students.

Using GradeMark to Improve Feedback and Engage Students in the Marking Process
Biological Sciences
Dr Sara Marsham Dr Alison Graham Newcastle University

Students frequently express frustration with assessment and feedback. Our project aimed to improve the clarity of marking criteria and link feedback more explicitly to criteria. We began by developing new marking criteria and provided tutorials that gave opportunities for students to practice using the criteria to mark exemplars. GradeMark was trialled as an electronic platform to provide feedback on coursework. We developed libraries of feedback specific to a particular assessment and its marking criteria. Students were overwhelmingly positive about the tutorials and electronic marking system. We show clear benefits to students that are not heavily reliant on staff time.

Undergraduate research placements improve bioscience students’ engagement with their discipline and enhance their academic performance.
Biological Sciences
Dr Sarah Hall      
Cardiff University

This project examined the impact of undergraduate research placements in engaging Bioscience students with their discipline and improving their academic performance.  Students’ opinions and academic performance were analysed and the findings demonstrate the compelling value of the year as an authentic learning experience.  Students recognised the comprehensive pedagogic value of the placement in developing their scientific expertise and refining their general academic skills; this is supported by evidence of superior academic performances particularly in final year research projects. Furthermore these students appreciated the value of the placements in enhancing their employability attributes and consolidating their career objectives.

Purple Pens: Enhancing Assessment Literacy and Student Engagement with Feedback through Students Writing Their Own Feedback
Physical Sciences
Dr David McGarvey Dr Laura Hancock Keele University

The aim of this session is to describe and illustrate our experiences of a deceptively simple but effective strategy for improving the quality and timeliness of assessment feedback in large classes through the use of a tutor-led dialogic technique that involves students writing their own feedback using distinctly coloured pens.  The objectives are to stimulate discussion of the distinctions between passive receipt of tutor-written feedback and students writing their own feedback in a tutor-led dialogic environment with a view to further enhancing students’ engagement with feedback and feedback literacy.     

Contextualizing an Engineering Student Learning Experience Through Linked Laboratories
Engineering and Materials
Dr Oliver Lewis Miss Farah Zahoor  
Sheffield Hallam University

An Aerospace Materials module previously included laboratory sessions on polymers and composites. However links between the laboratories were minimal and the polymer laboratory included limited scope for engagement. Furthermore the industrial significance of the sessions was not readily apparent.

The curriculum development aimed to: create a new laboratory activity incorporating procedures processes and components relevant to the aerospace industry; develop links between laboratory sessions; provide students with the opportunity to use research facilities.

The outcomes were assessed by questionnaire. Results for each of the outcomes showed student enthusiasm for the laboratories. Student responses to the industrial context were particularly positive.

Interactive iPad tutorials improve student engagement performance and satisfaction
Dr Phillip Macdonald Dr Helen Jopling University of Manchester

Healthcare scientist training at postgraduate level requires students from a range of backgrounds to quickly master complex subjects and apply this knowledge in a clinical laboratory setting. We have used the approach of flipped learning to develop interactive teaching sessions using the iPad application ‘Nearpod’ to encourage engagement peer interaction and communities of practice. The participation of all students is monitored allowing those who are struggling to be identified and given additional support. We present a study which suggests this method of teaching has increased the understanding of our students from the previous didactic teaching methods improving student satisfaction with the course.

Breaking the coding barrier: transition from Stage 1 to Stage 2 programming
Ms Frances Chetwynd Dr Fiona Aiken Mrs Helen Jefferis
The Open University

 In these three posters we discuss the results of a survey of Open University UK Computer Science students at the end of their first module studying Stage 2 programming. The research aims to establish how well students felt their Stage 1 studies in programming using Sense and RobotLab had prepared them for tackling programming in more complex languages such as Java and Python.

Using Facebook to develop a supportive online learning environment
Biological Sciences
Dr Becky Thomas      
Royal Holloway University of London

This poster demonstrates how we have used a Facebook group in our teaching of field ecology to encourage a more supportive learning environment and peer-learning with our students. Creating an informal online learning environment enabled us to maximise student engagement outside of the classroom (and in this case over the summer break). Here we discuss how we used this approach the benefits and possible drawbacks from our own experiences as well as feedback from the students and explain how others could adopt this approach in their own teaching.

Teaching basic concepts in protein purification through a card game
Biological Sciences
Dr Rebecca Barnes      
University of Sheffield

There is a growing interest in games and gamification to support active learning in higher education. I will showcase a simple card game designed to enrich teaching in Level 1 molecular bioscience practicals; specifically protein purification methods. The game is played in groups of 4 to 6 scalable to a large class. Players must consider proteins’ properties isolating their protein of interest from a mixture using appropriate purification methods and buffers. The game builds on students’ understanding of the principles underpinning different protein purification techniques as well as their skills in experimental design.

Developing practical skills in drug discovery and screening for a diverse student population
Biological Sciences
Dr Derek Scott Professor Alison Jenkinson  
University of Aberdeen

When challenged to deliver a science practical class on the topic of drug discovery for a diverse student population reading subjects ranging from anatomy to divinity it is difficult to ensure the activities are both rigorous and accessible. We created simple but effective scientific tasks to help students understand the challenges extracting potential drugs from natural products. Drug screening was simulated using proprietary drugs to develop student awareness of strengths and limitations of such analytical approaches. Through various iterations we have found that very simple scientific practical skills are most effective and reliable in delivering an effective student learning experience.

Adapting Objective Structured Practical Examinations (OSPE’s) to assess laboratory science skills in pharmacology students.
Biological Sciences
Dr Derek Scott Dr James Hislop Professor Alison Jenkinson
University of Aberdeen

Objective Structured Practical Examination (OSPE) assessments of theoretical practical and problem-solving skills at multiple stations have been adapted to examine practical skills in science disciplines to enhance employability and prepare students for research projects. We have recently expanded the range of students formally examined in communication and science laboratory practical skills by creating new assessment stations and adapting others to examine pharmacology practical skills. Using benchmark statements student staff and examiner feedback stations assessing contextualised skills such as numeracy graphic interpretation drug mechanisms and targets pharmacokinetics and use of physiological data to identify appropriate drug treatments have been developed.

Use of high fidelity human patient simulators (HFHPS) for science teaching
Biological Sciences
Dr Derek Scott      
University of Aberdeen

High fidelity human patient simulators (HFHPS) offer opportunities to study challenging biological principles in a realistic environment without experimental human or animal models. These responsive mannequins are used clinically to help develop technical skills and teamwork. However the benefits for teaching scientific concepts to science students remains relatively unexplored. They offer an exciting method of learning compared to conventional passive approaches to learning where students may not engage with the material. We explain how we are using simulators to help students understand biological variation and the concept of ‘normality’ and study biological processes at a pace that suits them.

Exploring the relationship between student’s motivation self-efficacy and self-directed study behaviours
Dr Alexander Coles Miss Sophie Meakin  Newman University

Aims: We report a study exploring the relationship between student’s self-reported motivation academic self-efficacy and self-directed study. 

Methods: 154 university students completed the AMS and S-ESAS online.  Four students kept a diary for two weeks recording their study behaviours. 

Findings: Regression analyses revealed amotivation was affected by gender.  Intrinsic motivation was affected by year of study.  Amotivation extrinsic and intrinsic motivation were all affected by self-efficacy. 

Diaries revealed students to be focused on extrinsic behaviours pertinent to immediate goals. 

Discussion: Students engagement as learners may be encouraged by focusing on their academic self-efficacy and mid-to-long term goals states.

Use of a flipped classroom approach to improve the learning experience and academic performance of pharmaceutical sciences students where English is not their first language
Dr Dan Corbett      
Queen’s University Belfast

One of the most popular strategies for UK university internationalization has been the development of international branch campuses. However there are a wide range of educational problems faced by these initiatives including difficulties in educating students who may not communicate in English as their first language particularly with regard to the sophisticated material contained within various STEM-related degree courses. This session will describe how flipped classroom teaching can bring about improvements in student learning experiences understanding and success within courses taught at these campuses circumventing educational issues and enabling international students to develop critical skills that will ultimately allow them to embark on successful STEM careers.

To Flip or not to Flip?
Miss Colette Mazzola      
Blackpool and the Fylde College

The aim of the session is to explore the concepts of Flipped learning as they relate to the teaching of Computing disciplines.  The presentation will enable participants to:-

1. Implement a flipped approach to teaching and learning

2. Apply principles of Flipped Learning to own subject discipline

3. Evaluate the potential for engaging students and supporting their development beyond the classroom

The presentation will be an interactive opportunity to interrogate concepts of learning which directly apply to the Flipped online approach and to discuss applications benefits and potential pitfalls for practitioners.

Use of scenario based learning to inspire the next generation of Chemical Engineers
Engineering and Materials
Ms Folashade Akinmolayan Professor Eva Sorensen  
University College London 

The Department of Chemical Engineering at UCL has as part of its Integrated Engineering Programme introduced six week-long scenarios in the first and second year of study.

The topics for each scenario are chosen to reflect the material taught in the regular modules running that term thus supporting the students’ learning and providing an opportunity for them to test out their new knowledge on real world open-ended and complex problems.

This presentation will give an overview of our scenarios their development and execution and will summarise our main experiences so far including extensive student feedback

‘’Enhancing engagement of learners in Biotechnology discipline’’
Biological Sciences
Dr Nagamani Bora      
University of Nottingham

Biotechnology is an interdisciplinary science centered around innovation. Engaging the learner in true nature of this discipline can be quite challenging. Whilst the need to equip the learner with lifelong learning skills is the goal for HE organizations this goal requires a multidimensional approach to implement authentic Biotechnology curriculum. The aim is to focus on responsive curriculum which can fulfill this goal. The session would highlight the approaches from learners and instructors perspective exemplifying a teaching model in this discipline.

Prepare to enjoy: lab handouts students really read
Engineering and Materials
Dr Chris Trayner      
University of Leeds

Persuading students to prepare for labs is hard but this session presents a technique that works well and is popular with students.

Lab handouts are divided into three parts: pre-lab in-lab and post-lab. An online quiz at the start of the lab tests whether the students have read the pre-lab handout; they must pass this to see the online in-lab handout. This strongly incentivises proper preparation, maximising experimental work done.

The in-lab handout is as short as possible to minimise the time spent reading and maximise the time doing experiments. The session will be illustrated with a simple entertaining origami-style example.

Role of student mentors in an undergraduate STEM curriculum – ‘A win-win situation’.
Biological Sciences
Professor John Deane Dr Vivek Indramohan Ms Karolina Kimczak
Birmingham City University

The main aim of this session is to disseminate the findings of the pedagogic research exploring the role and impact of student mentor within an undergraduate STEM programme.

Subsequently this session will:

  • Explore the magnitude of the rationale to undertake one such study
  • Share the methodology adopted to implement the proposed intervention in response to the problems identified.
  • Discuss various (potential) bottlenecks that a novice academic staff member may have to overcome while engaging in such an educational research
  • Provide insight into some of the strategic approaches that the project team members adopted to overcome similar issues and
  • Emphasise on the impact of such pedagogic interventions both within our institution and wider community.

Taking responsibility when studying: learning how to think like a Mathematician or a Scientist
Dr Peter Kahn      
University of Liverpool

What happens when students fail to master some material such as a set of basic mathematical ideas? Do you teach it all again? This workshop draws on a model of student engagement in which the willingness and capacity of the student to deliberate on possible ways forward is central. How can we help students to persist in thinking about how best to tackle scientific and mathematical tasks? The workshop identifies key trains of thought to help students persist in working their way through challenging tasks and ideas; with discussion around practical ways to implement the ideas in different disciplinary settings.

Enhancing the Arrival Experience: Transition into Higher Education
Dr Samia Kamal      
Oxford Brookes University

Pre-arrival Student Engagement (PASE) Hub is a webapp designed to engage students via subject specific activities before they arrive at university to start their degree programmes.  This webapp helped students to engage with the course content earlier on and also to become part of a programme specific learning community.  Furthermore it helps in fostering independent learning.

Students were given access to PASE Hub pilot before they start of their programme.  These course related activities and competitions were linked to the induction program. The evaluation is looking at the role of these activities in fostering student communities and managing student expectations.