A novel online approach to support students with their final year research project


When did you first introduce the innovation?

More than 24 months ago

Please describe the innovation you have developed

To support students with their final year project, an innovate approach developing a game into Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) was used.

A game was suggested (Shanahan et al., 2006) and it was felt that a Cluedo board would be effective. Each room focused on different elements of a literature review, whilst also allowing students to have fun. This led to the development of the ‘haven’t a Clue’ VLE site.

The goal was to transform the VLE into a student-centred learning environment, with an evidence base, utilising materials which are ‘cognitively rich’ (Gau, 2012).

1. Gau, T. M., 2012. Combining Tradition with Technology: Redesigning a Literature Course, in Glazer, F. S. (Ed.), 2012. Blended learning: Across the disciplines, across the academy (2nd Edition). USA. Stylus Publishing.

2. Shanahan, K., Hermans, C. and Haytko, D., 2006. Overcoming apathy and classroom disconnect in marketing courses: Employing karaoke jeopardy as a content retention tool. Marketing Education Review, 16 (1), p.85-90.

The Haven’t a Clue board comprises eight ‘rooms’:

Reception – Introduction to Literature Review
The Study – Planning your Progress
The Library – Selecting the Literature / Evaluating sources of information / Referencing
The Lounge – Note Taking, Critical Thinking and Writing up
The Billiard Room – (Formative) Peer- and Self-Assessment (Learning Outcomes Explained)
The Gallery – Examples of previous work
The Conservatory – Good academic practice / submission (Turnitin)
The Kitchen – Site map & activities links

The first room developed was the Reception, in which we provided information about the literature review and how the team expected it to be developed. The information used text, and audio and video files to address the diversity of student preferences. The learning outcomes were explained in The Billiard Room.

Time management poses a significant challenge for students. To address this, the Study, included, a month-by-month planner.

What prompted you to develop this innovation?

The major project in the nursing course is the last module that students undertake before they complete the National Student Survey (NSS).

Evaluations indicated that there was a need to enhance the student experience.

Students indicated that they felt there was not enough teaching time.

The module pass rate was lower than expected.

In your view, what is it about this innovation that makes it different/important?

This innovation took a holistic approach to the final project and integrated educational practice with learning theory.

It supported students to achieve, whilst delivering a novel learning experience.

Through gamification, students were able to interact with the module material via a modality that they were familiar with.

To what extent does your innovation make use of existing approaches, resources or technologies?

Based in pedagogical theory and thus draws on accepted theory to enhance learning.

Made use of the institutional VLE and simple online technologies.

To what degree has this innovation led to changes in education or clinical practice?

Enhanced and changed the way staff think about their VLE sites as they develop them.

Strongly supported the movement away from a repository VLE to an engaging and interactive learning environment.

What evidence do you have of the impact of the innovation?

Staff feedback on the site has been overwhelmingly positive from the outset.

One member of staff said that student feedback was that the site was ‘fantastic’, and that they had nominated it for an award.

Student achievement has improved and the marks for the project module with an average ~59% (one cohort of students) this year, compared with 53% on previous year. In the last delivery 50% of one cohort produced marks of 60% and above, with ~25% of these being above 70%.

Increased degree classifications (Anglia Ruskin, 2012), with, for example, one cohort of students this year achieving seven Firsts and eight Upper Seconds.

To what degree has the innovation been disseminated in your organisation or elsewhere?

Presented at the institutional learning and teaching conference.

Internal staff development sessions.

An article in ‘Networks’ – the institution’s learning and teaching journal.

Please provide details of any plans you have to disseminate the innovation in the future.

Case study for the Faculty Learning & Teaching website.

NB This case study has been adapted, with permission, from a publication produced by Anglia Learning & Teaching.