126 – Using a teacher-generated website (wiki) to support the learning of statistics – Diarmuid Verrier

Strand: The technology enhanced course (or, supporting students)

Anticipated outcomes:  Attendees should leave with an appreciation of the value of wikis for teaching.  Personally, I would like to get a sense of whether attendees consider this resource something that could potentially be used across multiple courses in the university or whether it is necessarily limited to the one for which it was created.

Session outline (or abstract):

It is now beyond question that technology and new media can support the process of learning and teaching. The subject of statistics may have particularly benefitted from this over the last 20 years with the growth and current ubiquity of computer programs designed to perform complex statistical calculations and to provide output describing the results of those calculations.  Nonetheless, statistics remains a highly complex subject.  The need for a sophisticated conceptual understanding of why a particular method should be chosen remains, and there are now additional challenges in terms of interpreting statistical output.  Further, while there is much consensus about the way statistics should be carried out and reported, cultural and discipline-specific differences remain.  There is a plethora of information out there, the vast majority of which is not relevant, and some of which is contrary to the cultural norms within the department.  In order to provide an easily accessible source of information that avoids these problems, we created a parsimonious wiki-style website for an introductory research methods and statistics module taken by first-year psychology students — essentially a resource for students analogous to a module-bespoke hyperlinked online textbook. It is intended to encompass what students need to know and no more (core concepts, basic theory, and stripped down procedures).  The vast majority of questions students ask in class can be answered by directed them to the website.  Thus, this system scaffolds students towards becoming autonomous learners who work to solve their own problems rather than relying on an external authority.  Students can then ‘graduate’ from this resource and engage with more sophisticated and detailed textbooks, articles, etc. that might otherwise have been experienced as overwhelming.  Although students cannot edit it, the website is easily malleable, and we can consider whether to add information if a student’s query goes beyond its current content.  This paper will evaluate how successful the site has been and will discuss some of its strengths as well as challenges we have encountered in creating and using it.  The possibility of using this resource (or one like it) across multiple courses will also be mooted.

Session activities for engagement: A hands on demonstration of the website

References: None

Possible thunderstorm session questions:

To what extent can such a resource truly be said to support the development of student autonomy?

To what extent would it be possible (or desirable) to share this resource within the university or beyond (i.e., as an open educational resource)?

Click to view presentation:  http://prezi.com/mkzxjcvbq-fp/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy

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About Adele Evans

My career has spanned over 30 years, I have worked mainly in education but in varying roles. My first role was at an Estate Agents, this was not a good experience and was dominated by senior management belittling office staff and deciding that the role should be to make tea and coffee for all 15 employees. I felt devalued and gained little work experience and decided that working in this industry wasn't for me. I think experiences like this shape you, I may not have learnt much about how to work in Estate Agents but I did realise that being encouraging, supportive and making people feel valued is truly important. I proceeded to work at Westcourt Property Services as a P.A. for the rented department. Even though I was only there a couple of years it was the first time I was working with new people and at varying levels which I gained a lot of experience and support from. I was eager to learn and to develop my work based skills. I applied for a job at Sheffield Hallam University when there was a recruitment fair in 1990 and was offered a 1 year temporary post, I took this opportunity as the money was more than double to what I was earning in my P.A. post and I knew that Sheffield Hallam would give me much more potential for a further career. I worked hard in a small team in Financial Studies and Law and managed to get my post made into a permanent position. I then made a sideways move to work in Student Finance, I was sceptical about a sideways move but it really paid off as my manager at the time was very supportive and I worked with a good team. I was encouraged to apply for a part-time HNC Business and Finance course at SHU with the potential of continuing my study onto degree level. The course was challenging as I had been out of education for about 7 years and there was a lot of work and with working full time it was demanding, however, I found my strengths studying subjects that appealed to me. The course gave me experience and a confidence boost that I really needed and made me realise that I could with hard work and dedication, I could achieve anything that I put my mind to. I got married a year later and then had my son and reduced to part-time, I was interviewed for the line manager role while I was on maternity leave and I was successful in that post. After having my daughter, my career then progressed from there, I gained the Head of Student Finance Centre part-time and line managed between 8 - 12 members of staff, I also began working part-time in other roles within the university so I could gain more experience. Working full time in two different roles had its challenges but you gain so much from working in different roles and with different people. I took the opportunity to develop my skills further by attending many training courses at SHU. The role expanded considerably due to the changes in government which impacted on student finance, but this gave me a great opportunity, I enjoyed the challenge and welcomed change and new ways of working. I also became an independent investigator for the university which really enhanced my skills in listening and report writing. I have worked at Sheffield Hallam University for 27 years in many different roles including School of Financial Studies and Law, Student Services, Admissions and UK Recruitment, Human Resources, Quality Enhancement, Library and Student Support Services (L3S) and now in Marketing. During this time I have gained a huge amount of experience from my varying roles and working with different people, I learnt that you absorb a lot of information and experience from the people you work with at all levels. I have previously worked as a Business Relationship Manager for L3S, working closely with my designated faculty of Health and Wellbeing. I now work as a Business Partner for Marketing and support the Sheffield Business School, I manage and develop effective working relationships, enhance knowledge and understanding of team priorities within Marketing and align strategic plans with the Faculty. During my working life I have learnt many things: • Making mistakes is ok, it's what makes you learn. • Believing in yourself is a difficult skill but one that everyone needs to undertake if you don't believe in yourself who will, building confidence and channelling negative thoughts is essential. • Consulting with people effectively, actively listening to their answers and making sure they feel valued is always beneficial, not just for the individuals but also for you. I've learnt that one of the best ways of learning is to learn from others. • Work life balance - balancing children and a busy work schedule. Knowing when to click off at the end of the day. • Everyone is different and we must learn to embrace diversity. • Don' t be afraid to take on new challenges, even pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, it's how you develop yourself, you can always ask for support and the sense of achievement and the skills learnt will be with you going forward in your career. • Being forward thinking and expecting change, things change and we have to accept that so learn to prepare and embrace it. Change is how we all progress. Challenges I have overcome • I found being a young female and lacking in confidence is something that some people would take advantage of and talk down to you, this happened at varying times throughout my early career, I realised that believing in myself, being prepared, using my emotional intelligence skills and making sure I appear confident means that others stop doubting you. What is it I can provide for the mentee • I am friendly, warm and approachable and get fulfilment from inspiring confidence in people. • I am a good listener. • We will learn from each other and build and develop personal and professional effectiveness. • I gain satisfaction by supporting others and helping develop their strengths and supporting them. • I believe it is key to be forward thinking and plan your personal ambitions and think creatively. • Support you with your wellbeing, share my experiences.