T. Talmo, G. Sivertsen Korpås, M. Mellingsæter, E. Einum

Sør-Trøndelag University College (HiST) (NORWAY)
This article reports on experiences gained and results achieved in a project in 2011-2012 performed with one group of approximately 65 students at Sør-Trøndelag University College, Norway. The aim of the project was to increase the level of performance and number of students passing the whole course. By utilizing an online service, the Student Response System (SRS), developed through the EduMecca project (2009-2010) (http://www.histproject.no/node/18) and new digital learning environments (http://www.histproject.no/node/277), developed through the HiSTMobile project, we designed tasks and new learning environments in order to increase cooperation and create an engagement in the group. These changes aimed at having a positive effect both on the learning and the social milieu in class, hence giving the group better conditions for performing academically.

In 2009-2010 we created a new group on the preparatory course for engineering education at Sør-Trøndelag University College (HiST), Faculty of Technology (AFT), Department of General Science (ALM). This group differed from three other groups on the course, especially with regard to the number of subjects needed to pass the course (two instead of five), meaning that this group only had lectures three days a week instead of five. This group was considered academically stronger than the other three, based on grades from their earlier education. Still, they performed at approximately the same level as the rest of the student mass at the end of the year. We also saw that a larger number of these students applied to other institutions than HiST for their further education than in the other groups. The same results were shown in the 2010-2011 group, telling us that we needed to do something with this particular group of students.

This led us into thinking differently about making this group work, and how to retain these students at HiST for their bachelor’s degree, an essential point both economically and academically for HiST. We decided to use new available technology and digital learning environments developed and under development at HiST since 2007 through EU-funded projects. New technology requires new methodology in order to function, and especially in groups like this with few hours together in class per week.

The article shows the methodology used and the results obtained from this project. The results show a significant improvement both in academic performance and recruitment to our institution compared to the previous years. The article aims to outline the design of new learning environments, best practice usage of SRS, task designs and collaborative work as key factors in creating positive engagement in a student group.
The development of the SRS was funded by the EU-Commission, KA3, through the EduMecca project.