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Institutional mainstreaming: Final Year Projects for Large Numbers of Remote Students -- 72 -- Short (oral) Paper

09:00 - 10:20 on Wednesday, 12 September 2012 in 3.204

Most degree qualifications in the Computing and Information Technology areas require that students undertake a final year project, which is practical in nature and synthesises material studied on the rest of the course. There may be a research component and there will also be a need for the student to demonstrate familiarity with the literature in their area.

There are several problems associated with delivering practical projects online and at a distance. Amongst these are: delivery to large numbers of students; ensuring differentiation between topics; maintaining student engagement; and ensuring that supervisors are fully engaged with the study.

We believe that these problems are addressed by our new project course, which is currently being delivered to 400 students. In the presentaiton we shall describe how the course is designed to be scaleable to larger numbers of students and how we address the problems above.

Use is made of a pre course “project choice” electronic forum where students are encouraged to discuss details of their intended projects or even just ideas about project topics. Later assessments require the students to demonstrate their involvement in the decision making process of others. Use of the forum has the major benefits of allowing the students to ensure that projects are different from others, allowing them to validate their ideas and allowing them to refine their ideas in collaboration with others. Project topics are developed by the students, not chosen from topics provided by academic staff. This is important with the numbers involved, since generating suitably diverse topics would be infeasible.

Delivery to large numbers is addressed by breaking the cohort into small groups who share related projects and a supervisor. This process is informed by both the discussions that took place on the pre course forum and the students’ previous studies. This changes the problem of managing large numbers of students to one of managing a smaller number of tutors.

Student engagement is encouraged by a series of staged assessments, all addressing the learning outcomes of the course (an important component of which is student reflection) and providing results and feedback which directly contribute to the final project report. This staged assessment provides a framework for contact with supervisors and guaranteed formative feedback.

The course is currently being delivered and is generating a great deal of enthusiasm from students. We have successfully managed very high volumes of traffic on the project choice forum and are developing mechanisms to handle even higher volumes expected in the future.

This session is important to the field, as we believe we have overcome many of the problems of delivering final year projects at a distance. Others wishing to deliver such projects to large numbers of students are likely to be interested.


Hi, do you have a ppt or file for your cession which you could upload here please? Look forward to seeing you at the session.
Sue greener

Tuesday, 11 September 2012, 15:03