Training Scheme Reports
Patricia Spence, The University of Aberdeen (Centre for Learning and Professional Development)
C Turnover in Soils (CT) is a computer-assisted learning module comprising a tutorial and a simulation model. It is used as part of the Soil Microbiology and Biochemistry course (taken by honours and postgraduate students) in the Department of Plant and Soil Science. The tutorial provides students with access to the subject information necessary to work with the CT model. The use of a simulation aims to encourage a deeper level of understanding, and hence provides a deeper learning experience for the students.
In previous years the lecturer had observed a wider spread of marks in the courseware reports than in traditional laboratory reports completed in other parts of the course. Students fell into two distinct groups: those who did very well, and those who performed poorly. Although it was a smaller proportion (around 30%) who did badly, that proportion tended to perform less well than would have been expected. The aims of the evaluation were to establish why a relatively high proportion of students using the C Turnover courseware perform less well than would be expected and then to propose ways to help students with low marks improve their performance on the CT practical.
The students CT marks did
not fall into two groups, as had been expected. This needs to be investigated
The student CT marks did not fall into the distinct high and low groups that were anticipated. The marks ranged from 13 to
20 with a mean of 17.4 and standard deviation of 1.76. This was similar to the distribution of marks in other courses and also the overall course marks.
IT skills. Overall there was no significant association between students IT skills and their CT scores. However, there was a relationship between IT and CT scores for the undergraduate population.
Previous Subject Knowledge. Having a previous subject knowledge as indicated by the students degree was not associated with CT score.
Individual Learning Styles. Initial analysis suggests that students with a deep/strategic approach are slightly more likely to get higher marks and that postgraduate students were significantly more likely to have a higher deep/strategic score.
Academic performance and CT practical marks. There was a strong association between the overall course marks and CT marks.
Students used both the C Turnover tutorial and simulation model. They generally found the tutorial very straight forward but ran into difficulties with the simulation model. The most common comment was that they felt ‘thrown in at the deep end’ when using the simulation.
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