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Using Pooled Data in Online forums: Example from SDK125: Introducing Health Sciences

Description There are four main aims to the activity: subject-related learning on a defined topic;...

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Learning and Teaching Development Team
9 March 2010


There are four main aims to the activity: subject-related learning on a defined topic; developing information literacy and IT skills among new level-1 students who are not confident computer users; encouraging use of the tutor-group forum (TGF) to build peer-group relationships; developing graph-plotting skills.

Those students who identify themselves as ‘new computer users’ go to an online split-screen ‘tutorial’ (instruction on the left and live website on the right) which guides them through finding information and then adding data to a wiki. More confident users can follow printed instructions. The TMA assessment is to draw a scatter plot from pooled data and interpret what it means with marks given for engaging in the Tutor Group Forum discussion of the data. It was first presented in November 2007 (three weeks in to the course) and has good feedback from an IET interim survey (74% saying they found it an effective way to learn). AL comments indicate they believe it a valuable activity for engaging with internet searching and each other.

This activity requires the use of data pooled by students in a tutor group and engagement in the tutor group forum. There is therefore a combination of new technology and a new strategy (which itself is a combination of split-screen tutorial, wiki and collaborative activity for assessment).

Additional comment

The course also uses iCMAs to help students to pace their study. There are 112 questions, with at least three variants to each, spread over seven formative and seven summative iCMAs. It took a lot of time to prepare the questions - around one working week per iCMA . Questions can be varied in future years by exchanging formative and summative variants and ‘medleys’ of questions from different case studies can be prepared for student revision exercises (these received good student feedback). An IET survey reported 86.2% found them enjoyable, 82.7% effective, and 87.4% were clear about what they needed to do.


Study Companion (pp.14-20) and Assessment Booklet section on TMA 1 (questions 2 and 3).

The tutor group wikis in which students enter their results are at (this requires OU access)

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