Even Up

Digital resources for students to keep pace

From the three great challenges listed in the innovation call: increasing student numbers, decreasing student-teacher ratio, and a more diverse student population, I want to address the third. I regularly encounter students who lack some basic background knowledge. Organizing separate regular sessions to these students is not sustainable. Such students can greatly profit from tailor-made digital material and feedback. Indeed, experts on blended learning advice to discuss high level material during the contact hours and to let students polish routine skills on a suitable digital platform. Simultaneously the more advanced students will benefit from less pressure on basic topics.

The goal is to guarantee a sufficient level of the mathematical skills that are necessary in a particular engineering discipline (in this case medical image processing and analysis). It turns out that in image analysis precisely the lack of such skills is most often forming the obstacle for the students to pass the courses. For example, in the case of Fourier transform (besides physics and mathematics also important in electrical, biomedical, and mechanical engineering) this may concern lacking the concepts regarding complex numbers and trigonometry. More generally it may concern the ability of interpreting, e.g., summation/integral symbols, that is, the ability of reading and writing concise information in a compact and unambiguous form.

Fortunately, much of the material covering the mathematics that is necessary for the more applied disciplines has been already/is to be worked out in form of digital (Oncourse) exercises at the department of mathematics (dr. Hans Cuypers et al.). The challenge in practice is to link the courses of (in this particular project) medical image analysis to the set of matching exercises. Simultaneously this serves as a feedback for the mathematics department on how exactly the mathematical tools are applied in the discipline of medical image analysis and what skills are most relevant for this particular group.

The basic objective of this project is to test whether the existing digital resources can be effectively exploited to address the heterogenous backgrounds of the students. The outcome will be:

  1. A report on how the digital components and the cross-linking were designed and implemented;
  2. The statistics and an analysis of the actual students usage of the service and the relation to the learning results;
  3. An outlook of whether similar approach could be beneficial also for the whole line of studies of the IMAG/e group. This could be a very useful extension, since the master courses are given by the academic staff who experience a lot of pressure from other duties than education;
  4. An application based catalogue on the linked mathematical exercises which can be if interest for all bachelor educators at the TU/e.

The practical means we want to apply to unify the learning capacities is to develop and integrate digital material by exploiting the resources in CANVAS and Oncourse.

The target students are the bachelor students of the department of Biomedical Engineering. The platform will be the two existing courses “Images” (8DB00), which is obligatory to all second year students of BMT and the “Medical Image Analysis” (8DC00) for the third year students.

The students will be given weekly digital exercises in CANVAS to test their progress with the topics. For those exercises that involve the usage of mathematical tools the students will be linked to the matching Oncourse material that covers the theory and practice that is necessary to complete the exercise.

Project ongoing