CELebrate 2017: Motivating the unmotivated

Motivating the unmotivated: a case study in STEM, Debbie Holley


A significant issue for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) students, is where employers, government  and higher education policy makers have identified a lack of preparation in crucial soft skill areas such as presentations and team working. Moving first year gaming and computer science students from their individual ‘developer’ stance to appreciate the benefits of team working, and to document and evidence these skills in a meaningful way, many Universities require staff to design courses including a PDP element.

This case study is a first year coding module with a pass/fail PDP element attached to it. This led to unforeseen consequences – students failed to attend PDP sessions, and did not submit their plans, leading to a backlog of students unable to progress to their Intermediate year of study. At this point, reengineering the PDP was required, underpinning it with sound pedagogical principles.  Framed as a rich case study, and drawing upon two years of data, in this paper we present an analysis of the ‘treasure hunt’ where 90 students, divided into groups, were offered the metaphor of the treasure hunt to go out and create their own augmented reality artefacts.

This enabled an alternative approach to the meeting of Learning Outcomes, wherein the students were responsible for demonstrating the processes by which their groups met the LOs. This differs significantly from existing approaches which take a more standardised stance.

Context. The treasure hunt metaphor has been used by numerous authors to explain ideas around engaging students with hunting, mapping, locating. This familiar concept was the focus for a student created game. The task is designed as a collaborative exercise that encourages students to explore the application of Augmented Reality technology and incidentally develop their soft skills.

See the powerpoint here: 

Motivating the unmotivated: a case study in STEM


UKCES, 2015. Reviewing the requirement for high level STEM skills. UK Commission for Employment and Skills. Available at: <https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/444052/stem_review_evidence_report_final.pdf> [Accessed 14 November 2016].

HEFCE, 2016. STEM – higher education funding council for England, 2016. Higher Education Funding Council for England. Available at: <http://www.hefce.ac.uk/analysis/HEinEngland/subjects/substem/> [Accessed 14 November 2016]. House of Lords Digital Skills Committee, 2015. Make or break – the UK’s digital future.. Available at: <https://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201415/ldselect/lddigital/111/111.pdf> [Accessed 12 December 2016].

Stake, R.E.: The case study method in social inquiry. Evaluation models. Springer Netherlands, pp. 279-286 (1983)

Hobbs, M., Holley, D. (2015) Using Augmented Reality to Engage STEM students with an authentic curriculum. 2nd International Conference on e-Learning e-Education and Online Training, Sept 16th, 2015.

Bloxham, J., 2013. Pedagogical arguments for Augmented Reality as an educational tool. JISC, RSC blog. [online] Available at http://jiscrsc.jiscinvolve.org/wp/2013/05/augmented-reality-education/Presentation/poster/workshop title, Presenter

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