PADSHE Project - University of Nottingham

Conference 10 June 2003

Does PDP in Science and Maths help students develop target skills?

Facilitators: Jeff Waldock, Neil Challis & Harry Gretton
School of Science and Mathematics
Sheffield Hallam University

Summary of workshop presentation

The new Mathematics degree programme at Sheffield Hallam includes a fully-embedded electronic student progress file. After two years of operation it is time to reflect on its current strengths and weaknesses and make plans for next year - in essence, we must update our own progress file!

A central aim is that students should develop skills in reflection, work-planning, problem-identification and solution and target-setting: skills necessary for reflective practitioners able to engage in lifelong learning practising independent study skills. It is our view that progress files provide a means whereby this can take place.

Our progress file system meets two of the three elements proposed by the QAA. There is a logbook, where students record work achieved and reflect on problems faced and overcome, and a personal website (the personal development record) in which students collect their work. We do not link the progress file with the central records system to include a student's official transcript.

The system is easy to use, both for students and staff, providing genuinely useful information for all. It is flexible, since we can add or modify features at very short notice. Everyone has rapid access to the system features most relevant to them - although students only have access to their own progress files, staff can view summaries and details of all students' files. The system allows staff to respond to students comments via e-mail very easily, and this has proven a valuable communication mechanism.

This academic year, there have been nearly 4,000 logbook entries by around 70 students at levels 4 and 5 (university years 1 and 2). We have analysed these data to attempt to answer the big question - is there any evidence that the use of progress files does indeed help students develop the skills we are aiming for? Statistical analysis of the entries suggests that the second-year students' entries are consistently longer, and word usage analysis (searching for keywords from the six levels of Bloom's taxonomy) suggests they are also using consistently higher levels of skills.

Summary of outcomes of discussions

Transcripts in place

PDP solution to:

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