Bridging undergraduates’ awarding gaps using Smart Worksheets at London Metropolitan University

We have partnered with Dr. Bhaven Patel at London Metropolitan University since 2017, working together to successfully address the awarding gaps of students on Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences courses, via engaging and interactive Smart Worksheets assessments.

The Challenge:

Creating engaging and interactive assessments that close awarding gaps in chemistry and analytical science

Prior to working with LearnSci, London Metropolitan University’s assessments led to mixed results for the students. This was partly because the students were facing the assessments with varying abilities, and partly because many of the University’s students came from backgrounds where English was a second or third language. Assessment results often showed that students had misinterpreted or misunderstood questions.

The challenge therefore was to eliminate these awarding differentials, transforming the university experience for ethnic minority students, and ameliorating degree awarding gaps. Dr Patel and the team needed to create more engaging and interactive assessments, and increase and encourage critical thinking, problem solving, numeracy, decision-making and digital literacy skills.

"Within the Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences group, the experience of our student learners is at the heart of everything we do. We wanted the students to have a good experience and learn from the assessment rather than just achieve marks."
Dr. Bhaven Patel

The Solution:

Provide students with the opportunity to practise key employment skills and receive immediate feedback

In collaboration with Dr Patel and his colleagues in the chemical and pharmaceutical sciences subject group, we have produced a range of custom Smart Worksheets that has expanded London Metropolitan University’s library, providing students with the opportunity to analyse data and problem solve in an interactive way. The worksheets have been developed to allow students to increase key employability skills and demonstrate professional competencies that are very much in demand by industry.

A mixture of assignments that supplement laboratory sessions and lectures

In Analytical Science modules, the emphasis is on problem solving and critical thinking. Within these modules, there are two custom worksheets: the first is an interactive numerical assessment predicated on quantitative analysis; the second allows students to elucidate the structure of an unknown compound through analysis of spectroscopic data. Spectra for each compound automatically loads, with which students can interact and analyse, ultimately allowing them to identify the unknown compounds.

In Physical Chemistry, Dr Patel has introduced a worksheet, created with LearnSci by his colleague Dr Jon Tandy, that allows students to practise theory through analysis of interactive phase diagrams. 

The final new worksheet is a timed test in Inorganic Chemistry; this is a post-lab review that allows students to interactively assess the lab session, containing both theoretical and practical exercises.

"The Smart Worksheets are advantageous in that they provide instant feedback and are self-marking so that students can see a provisional result on completion. Moreover, they are customisable and personalised to the student. From the start, LearnSci was hands-on in helping with the design of the Smart Worksheet. I felt the enthusiasm from the development team to see just how far they could stretch this kind of assignment. It was a pleasure to work with the team."
Dr. Bhaven Patel
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The Results:

Significant improvements in engagement and achievement, with a removal or substantial reduction in awarding gaps

across Physical Chemistry, Inorganic Chemistry and Analytical Science

Increasing London Metropolitan University’s Smart Worksheets library in this way has had a visibly clear impact on Chemistry and Analytical Science students’ results, either in their coursework, test results, or both.

Physical Chemistry and Inorganic Chemistry had no awarding gap at all.

with the average test mark for Inorganic Chemistry up 8% points prior to the Smart Worksheet.

Analytical Science saw the awarding gap close by 10% points over two years

with the average test mark up 12% points and the average coursework mark up 16% points.

The worksheets and simulations have been very well received by students and feedback has suggested that students find it extremely helpful having real time feedback, and enjoy “the interactive visualisation” which holds their engagement and allows for a “creative understanding of concepts”. The way the Smart Worksheets are formulated allows them to visualise the data and the pattern occurring, and provides them with more of an understanding of the assignment. 

The worksheets have been commended by professional bodies accrediting courses for significantly improving engagement, understanding, achievement and contributing markedly to the erosion of the awarding gap in assessments.

Student, London Metropolitan University
"I found using Smart Worksheets easy and clear. The Smart Worksheets have helped me to easily assign compounds and include clear patterns that help to get the correct data. The lecturers helped us a lot to understand how to work with them."
3rd year student on using Smart Worksheets
Dr Leanne Williams
"The impact here is rather extraordinary and is a compelling insight into the value of autonomous marking and standardised feedback on awarding gaps."
Dr. Leanne Williams, Associate Professor, University of Warwick, and member of the judging panel for LearnSci Teaching Innovation Awards 2021

If you would like further information about our Smart Worksheet Collections and how they can be used in your department please get in touch.

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