>Reverting to online delivery for a statistics and quantitative methods course to Economics, and Business students poses a series of challenges, not least that of dwindling student engagement. In asynchronous delivery, judging engagement by ‘views’ or ‘reactions’ can be misleading, while in a synchronous online class, participation can be hindered by technology, and/or other personal circumstances. I am using my second year course in Statistics (ECO-20049) as a case study to demonstrate how adopting a different type of assessment, namely a portfolio of practical exercises, can boost engagement with material throughout the semester, and hence improve student outcomes in both online and physical (f2f) delivery modes. I additionally demonstrate how this type of assessment can ensure authenticity of assessment, and be used to provide effective feedback, lack of which is cited as one of the main reasons for low student satisfaction.
Background: Given the national lockdown and social distancing measures affected the availability, nature and opportunity of the clinical practice placement for final year physiotherapy students, statutory and professional bodies called for creativity and continuity in delivering practice-based learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Project: In response, we designed a role-emerging clinical practice placement model using project-based and peer learning, reflective and critical thinking, and remote workplace learning using a novel application of voice-controlled headset integrated with a hand-held Android™ tablet computer streaming the content via Microsoft Team in real-time to an interactive virtual classroom. Willing and consented patients attended a face-to-face consultation, and they used the tablet as a companion device. The educator switched among the video feeds during the consultation to demonstrate any clinically essential observations.
Results: We successfully calibrated the technology in the first week of the placement and achieved optimum quality of the streaming video and audio outputs in both ends. The practice placement encouraged high-quality discussion among the students, educator, lecturers and multi-disciplinary team members. We benchmarked confidence of the students (n=4) doing the placement, in formulating/planning subjective/objective assessment, prioritising a problem-list and formulating a treatment plan against that of the students partaking traditional clinical placement.
As part of our level 6 programme we run a multi-week drug design assessment simulating the work of medicinal chemists. This group exercise in which students design and optimise a drug candidate based on feedback, reflects the core skills of a medicinal chemist, requiring team work and discussion. Usually this is completed in small groups in person, but in the present we sought an effective way of delivering this electronically without compromising on the interactions involved.
Our solution was to run these sessions in Microsoft Teams. Each team of 5-6 students has their own pre-set channel in which they interact with each other through a video call discussion. A key aspect of this is that students are provided with a PowerPoint template, which is visible to all group members and the teachers, that they annotate in realtime. Teachers can monitor progress and circulate between groups to offer dynamic feedback. The PowerPoint produced comprises the key element of the assessment of this exercise as students reflect on their teams' outcomes and record these in the presenters notes.
We will present our evaluation of this exercise, the lessons learned on leveraging technology in live group work, and the students assessment of it.