Instructing the right study effort

in 'OSEUBO Patents, Design Rights and Standards'

This project aimed to realise optimised instruction, intensified feedback and aligned assessment without increasing personnel demands.  

This project uses one course as a pilot. This course provides valuable insights into how phenomena of patents and standards are critical to the success of companies and shape the future of technology. Critical thinking is one of the course learning outcomes. ”Students that successfully finished this course should be able to develop their own thoughts and opinions about moral aspects of patents and standards and report these thoughts in an essay.”

Students are very positive about the course, with a general course result of 7.0 and with fun results of 4.0 for the previous year. Nevertheless, students indicate that they put little effort in the courses and succeed rather easily. The project will try to increase the student effort without decreasing the general course result.

How to realise a ‘right’ success rate and course effort of the 0SEUB0 course by focusing on constructive instruction, intensification of feedback, and aligned assessment? 

We opted for an expert meeting to look into the course redesign. We invited 3 external experts. The preparation is minimal:

  • We sketched the 2014-2015 course in general like course design, learning objectives, examination plan.
  • We listed what the challenges are according to us.

The experts came up with some ‘easy and expectable’ judgements. The student evaluations showed that the exams were too easy. The experts clearly showed how the exam questions were could be improved.

At the same time, they also gave some more unexpected judgements. The effect of multiple choice questions during the lectures is an example. Students received every week clicker questions. The purpose here is to give students an idea of the typical kind of multiple choice questions in non-technical education. What was meant to be motivational, turned out to be non-motivational. The clicker questions in the 2014-2015 course referred to the previous lecture and were rather simple. As such, students got the idea that the lecture was about reproduction which demotivated them. Together with the TU/e test expert, the teachers developed new exam questions and new clicker questions.

The results of the project are positive:

  • The patents course itself improved. The evaluations that were positive in the 2014-2015 version, remained positive in the 2015-2016 version. The study effort increased from 2.4 to 2.7. This is an important improvement, but not yet the expected 3.0. The success rate dropped from 94% to 84%.
  • The method of ‘expert group’ was very satisfying. It asked little energy and provided the teachers with good feedback. They could make small course redesign changes with essential changes as a consequence.