Undergraduate Final Year Project
Dr Usman Naeem PhD (Lon), BSc (Lon), SFHEA, Senior Lecturer, School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science
The final year project (also known as the capstone project) is an important element of the undergraduate degree programmes within the School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science, as it gives our learners an opportunity to work on an extensive piece of work independently throughout the academic year. This project also allows our learners to demonstrate their problem-solving abilities by being able to apply a range of skills that they have acquired throughout their degree programme. However, as this is a year-long independent piece of work, it becomes imperative that there are mechanisms in place to measure learner engagement with the project itself and the project module content.
Traditionally we would measure project engagement by analysing the summative assessment (i.e., interim report) submissions associated with the project. However, this didn’t really provide us with any insights about how the learners were engaging with the project content (i.e., teaching material). Hence as the project co-ordinator, I explored the idea of utilising the pedagogic approach (asynchronous and synchronous learning) during the academic year 2020/21 to capture data that would make it possible to get insights about learner engagement with the project teaching material. The motivation for doing this was to identify learners who were not engaging with the module content and had not done much work on their projects. As this would allow us to intervene by contacting these learners to find out the reasons for non-engagement. We based are analysis on the following data captured from QMPlus:
- Attendance to Blackboard Collaborate Sessions (week 1 - 4)
- Access Project Resources (i.e. project handbook) on QMPlus (week 1 - 4)
- Watching interactive H5P content, which required students to answer embedded questions in the video (week 1 - 4)
- Submission of Project Definition Document (Formative Assessment)
Initial enrolment on this project module was 331 learners, of which 52 learners had less than 30% content engagement and did not submit a project definition. In terms of intervention, these learners were sent an email to find out the reasons why they had not been engaging. 16 out of 52 students responded back to the email, of which 12 ended up passing their project with an average mark of 65%. 3 of 16 learners failed the project, while 1 student was withdrawn from the project module.
In terms of pedagogical enhancements, this analysis provided me with an insight on the learning styles of the learners, as it was discovered that the learners veered towards a binge approach to watching and reviewing the learning material. Hence, this academic year the intervention exercise was done in week 7 as opposed to week 4, as it gave the learners a chance to fully engaged with the module content. Keeping this mind, I also provided more recaps about the asynchronous content within the live asynchronous session as many learners did not watch or engage with asynchronous content on a weekly basis.