Since 2016 we have been engaged in a series of research activities designed to gain a deeper understanding of the underlying study habits and learning behaviour of Open University (OU) students, to inform the future development of pedagogy, systems, tools and platforms. As our team follow a Human Centred Design methodology, we believe that ‘those who are living with a problem have the keys to solving it’ (IDEO, 2015).
Extending this to apply to the lives of our students, the research is intended to critically engage with our assumptions about student learning behaviours and attitudes, and challenge ourselves to understand their real experiences. From this, we can understand their needs more accurately.
The Behavioural Insight project builds on three key pieces of research conducted by the Learning Innovation team since 2016:
The 2017 study identified seven clear learning behaviours through Principle Component Analysis and cluster analysis. These learning behaviours are:
Although the 2017 study included students from the Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, and Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies, there was a preponderance of Arts students in the responses.
Therefore, in Spring 2019, the survey was repeated with undergraduate students on Science and Technology modules. We observed differences between the behaviour of STEM and non-STEM students. The causes of these differences could include the learning design of STEM modules. Currently, no conclusion can be drawn on the correlation of specific learning behaviours on student outcomes, and this is now the main focus of our activity.
This project will investigate the relationship between learning design, learning behaviours and student outcomes to establish any significant correlations.
Short bridging activity in order to identify initial evidence of correlations between learning behaviours and student success, and establish more firmly a methodology for analysis of student success data against learning behaviours.
This piece of research extended and deepened the ‘Learning Behaviours of OU students’ research conducted in 2017. It repeated this research using the same core questions, however focusing attention on undergraduate students on Science and Technology modules. By understanding and refining the study habits descriptions for STEM students, we hope to understand and refine faculty-specific learning behaviour descriptions. This would further enable evidence-based decision making to improve the student experience by understanding the underlying learning behaviours of students.
2017 Student Workshop ‘The future of digital learning’
Focused conversation, consensus mapping, product design activities, and user testing with students to deepen our understanding of their experiences and understand how the learning behaviours could be applied.
Watch our presentation from 21’33 onwards.
This research validated the themes that emerged from the previous report. Analysis carried out on the data from that survey revealed eight possible learning behaviours that underpinned the student responses. In order to validate those original findings a new survey was designed. This report explains the findings of that survey.
Seven clear learning behaviours were identified through Principle Component Analysis, and a cluster analysis of the data was carried out.Explore our findings (opens in new tab)
Learning habits, top tips and 'study hacks' questionnaire survey.
The question we’re asking is if there is a significant relationship between combinations of learning behaviours and student outcomes.
To further investigate the relationship between the learning behaviour of students and outcomes we want to study learning behaviours within the context of a module in presentation.
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