A Study into using a Virtual Environment and Online Communication Tools to Improve Engagement with STEM Learning

I am proposing to conduct a research study as part of the upcoming UMI Pilots. This study will look to answer the follwoig research question:

How do second-level students use an online environment to communicate and collaborate together and solve a STEM related problem?

This study will be conducted via the UMI Online Environment where a number of students from one secondary school will work together to solve a STEM related problem, communicating and collaborating via the online environment.

There will be two types of participant in this study:

  1. 5 – 10 Transition Year students from one secondary school
  2. 1 secondary school STEM teacher

The teacher will act as a facilitator in this study. They will monitor the student’s online behaviour to ensure they are using the online environment for the outlined purposes (i.e. solve a STEM problem) and not for any other reason. They will also be available to answer any questions the students may have along with the researcher.

I see this study as a smaller “test run” version of my major PhD study which I plan to conduct next year. Next year, the study will be broadened to include students and teachers from a number of schools along with other STEM stakeholders.

Before I can conduct this study, the UMI online environment must be populated with content relevant to the pilot and relevant to the teachers and students involved. I will be working on creating a project template for the online environment tomorrow and I have a meeting scheduled with Kieran and Sarah to discuss it on Wednesday.


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