Teaching Innovation Awards Winner

London Metropolitan University

Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences
Dr. Bhaven Patel, Dr. Daniel Sykes, Dr. Jonathan Tandy
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London Met has recently introduced the ‘Education for Social Justice Framework’ that is in place to eliminate attainment differentials, transforming the university experience for BAME students and to ameliorate degree awarding gaps. Within the Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences group, the experience of our student learners is at the heart of everything we do. We have adopted approaches and behaviours that embed these values within the fabric of the activities we are developing with the key driver that these should be inclusive and engaging. Alongside LearnSci, we have built on a previously successful custom worksheet, where the attainment gap decreased, to expand our library to accentuate our primary goal of using inclusive assessments in attractive and innovative ways.

In the past year we have progressed and have implemented further simulations and worksheets at advanced levels and developed new custom worksheets. As a prime example, we are currently using a range of worksheets across the whole of the School of Human Sciences in the second year where syllabus content focusses on data analysis and problem solving. The original custom worksheets have been developed to increase the employability skills of our students and demonstrate professional competencies that are very much in demand by industry. Apart from consolidating student understanding of the core science, our aim was to increase and encourage critical thinking, problem solving, numeracy, decision-making and digital literacy skills. The custom worksheets employed were a mixture of assignments that supplemented laboratory sessions and lectures. In Physical Chemistry, we have introduced a worksheet that allows students to practice theory through analysis of interactive phase diagrams. In the 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 is our original custom worksheet for elucidating the structure of an unknown compound through analysis of spectroscopic data. The final new worksheet was a timed test in Inorganic Chemistry, this was post lab review that allowed students to interactively assess the lab session; it contained both theoretical and practical exercises.

The success of the introduction of the worksheets is transparent in the performance data:

• Physical Chemistry (new assessment) – Average mark 73%. No attainment gap present.

• Analytical Science – Average test mark 59% (up 12% prior to the smart worksheet). Attainment gap closed by 8% prior to the smart worksheet). Average coursework mark 65% (up 16% prior to the Smart Worksheet). Attainment gap closed by 10% over 2 years.

• Inorganic Chemistry – Average test mark 67% (up 8% prior to the Smart Worksheet). No attainment gap present.

These worksheets and simulations have been very well received by our students and feedback has suggested that students enjoy “the interactive visualization” which holds their engagement and allows for a “creative understanding of concepts”. The worksheets have been commended by professional bodies accrediting courses for significantly improving engagement, understanding, achievement and contributing markedly to the erosion of the attainment gap in assessments.

Smart Worksheets improving performance and decreasing the attainment gap.