# Helping geoscience students improve their numeracy using Blackboard quizzes Anne-Marie Nuttall Natural Sciences & Psychology, Liverpool John Moores University.

## Presentation on theme: "Helping geoscience students improve their numeracy using Blackboard quizzes Anne-Marie Nuttall Natural Sciences & Psychology, Liverpool John Moores University."— Presentation transcript:

Helping geoscience students improve their numeracy using Blackboard quizzes Anne-Marie Nuttall Natural Sciences & Psychology, Liverpool John Moores University a.nuttall@ljmu.ac.uk with Tim Stott & Shaun Sparke

Introduction Background – whats the problem? What do students want? What did we provide? Quizzes and feedback How did the students respond? What next?

Background 10 years teaching physical geography at LJMU Many geoscience students lack confidence in numeracy What can we do to improve both numeracy and confidence? Develop Blackboard quizzes Supported by HEA subject centre for GEES

Royal Societys Advisory Committee on Mathematics Education report: bbc.co.uk (14 th June 2011)

Glaciology exam question: estimate the average velocity across the glacier Velocities are ca. 10, 12 & 8 m/yr (0 at sides)

One students answer… Answer = 24.5 How on earth?? 10 + 12 + 7.6 = 24.5 3

What the students said (n=25): Were you happy with your numeracy skills prior to university? Yes = 35%No = 65% Do you think you are expected to have greater numeracy skills than you currently have? Yes = 70%Not sure = 10%No = 20% Do you think that there are too many numeracy tasks in your modules? Yes = 70%No = 30%* Would you use online support on Blackboard? Yes = 65%Maybe = 25%No = 10%

What the students said (n=25): What kind of help would you would find useful? It would be good if students could attend an hour session a week or alternatively students should be able to go to their tutor To know there is some kind of support if needed. Maybe a lecturer to be available to go through certain tasks if you find them difficult? Or information on blackboard about what numeracy you need to know and how to do it.

What we have provided: Suite of Blackboard quizzes Organised into 9 numeracy topics Three levels of difficulty (intro, inter, adv) Anytime, anywhere, self-paced learning Supportive feedback to enable learning Subject-based examples to demonstrate relevance Tagged with subject categories (glaciers, fluvial, soil, climate…)

Blackboard settings: Feedback is only given at the end of a quiz, not after each question, so max 5 questions per quiz Show user their score, submitted answer, correct answer and feedback Allow multiple attempts (to build confidence)

The importance of feedback: Face-to-face tuition is time consuming Quiz feedback is a great way to help students learn where they went wrong Detailed feedback for wrong answers showing the right answer and working out Can be specific to each wrong answer for MCQs We give feedback for correct answers too in case it was a lucky guess!

How did the students respond? 150+ invited, 32 students have enrolled Of those, only 10 have completed quizzes One student did 11 of them 3 students completed the evaluation questionnaire Found quizzes useful? 1 / 3 SA, 2 / 3 A Learnt something new? 2 / 3 A, 1 / 3 SD Improved confidence? 1 / 3 A, 2 / 3 N Useful as it jogged my memory. Could use more guidance on trigonometry

Advice & recommendations: Setting up the quizzes is easy but there is quite a high faff factor in doing all the feedback, categories, settings, key words etc. It is not easy to get the level right (intro, inter, adv) It is easy for mistakes to slip in unnoticed... e.g. specifying which is the correct answer to a MCQ Beware of potential traps e.g. numerical answers cant include any text (e.g. the correct answer is 10 not 10m)

Where to next? How to get more students to use them? How to get more staff to recommend them? Embed quizzes into skills or subject modules Offer drop-in workshop sessions for students to do the quizzes with someone there to support them Exchange quizzes with other universities/depts Any comments or feedback welcome! a.nuttall@ljmu.ac.uk

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