Guidelines for project group meetings and tutoring

How to support team building and set up a project organisation in the 1.5-metre classroom with (very) limited opportunities to physically come together on campus in order to complete a project successfully?

Guidelines

  • Wherever possible, project groups will be composed of students who already know each other from the introduction period (for first-year students).
  • 1st year students have at least 3 moments spread over the duration of the project, when they physically meet with their project group. This is preferably done under the supervision of a tutor. 
  • For 2nd and 3rd year students there is at least 1 moment when they physically meet with their project group (and tutor if necessary).
  • Other collaboration and project support take place online
  • Plenary kick-off meetings of the project are done online
  • Tutor meetings (coordination with project supervisors) and other meetings with the module team are done online.
  • Central closing meetings of projects without demonstrations of end products of a project take place online.
  • Central closing meetings at which demonstrations of end products are given, take place (for safety reasons) as much as possible on the campus site (considering RIVM guidelines).
  • Excursions at companies that are part of the project will be replaced as much as possible by videos and assignments.

Prerequisites

  • Relevant tools and guidelines will be made available by CELT/TELT to support students and tutors in realizing teambuilding and project organization in (largely) online collaboration.
  • Spaces will be made available where groups of up to 10 people can hold a group meeting within the 1.5m. limit.

Suggestions related to the mentioned prerequisites

  • Pay explicit attention to team building and project organization in the skills education of quartile 1 of the 1st and 2nd year.
  • Especially during the start-up phase of the project, tutors should play an active role in supporting the project group with teambuilding and properly setting up their project organisation. 
  • For (largely) online cooperation, consider project groups that are no larger than 6 to 8 people.
Guidelines for project work and practicals

For the acquisition of practical learning goals, education in workshops/labs is of great importance to students. How can we maintain this in a situation where the use of these spaces is limited by the 1.5m distance measure?

Guidelines

  • For workshop practicals, prototype construction and lab work, consider alternatives with minimal use (20-30%) of the facilities. What can be done outside labs while preserving the learning goals as much as possible, should be done outside labs.
  • In the case of practicals that do have to take place in the workshop or lab, it will be investigated whether it is possible to maintain 1.5m. when using adjacent equipment or setups. If not, a solution with a partition wall will be considered or part of the equipment will not be used (more information will be provided by the working group 1.5m university).
  • If, for safety or didactical reasons, it is not possible to maintain a 1.5m. distance, the student and workshop supervisor or lab assistant will work with face shields and/or mouth guards (more information about these safety measures will be provided by the working group 1.5m university).
  • When scheduling workshop time, the 1st year students have priority.
  • When scheduling lab work it is up to the research group itself (in consultation with the programme director) to determine which priorities are used about access to the research labs by different target groups.
  • It is not desirable to move the labs to later on in the programme (post-corona) because of the high occupancy rate of the labs. Note: it is unclear when 'post corona' will be.
  • Practicals that prepare students for, and are a prerequisite for, working safely in the lab should be accessible to all students. Where possible, parts can be replaced by online instructions or videos.

Further suggestions

When thinking about alternatives for the current practicals, the questions below can be considered: 

  • Are there practicals that can be omitted this academic year without directly compromising the learning objectives of the project or module? 
  • Are there practicals that can take place in other rooms?
  • Are there practicals that students can carry out at home with materials available there? 
  • Are there practicals that can (partly) be replaced by modelling or simulations?
  • Are there possibilities to let students 'specialize' in a certain practical part (not every student follows every practical part, groups share the acquired knowledge with each other)?
  • Are there possibilities to have a part of the students physically at a lab and to let the rest watch online instructions (rotation system)?
  • Can parts of the practical work be outsourced (e.g. laser cutting)?
  • Are there possibilities to let experiments take place remotely under certain conditions? (these are not simulations; access to reality must be maintained). 
  • Are there possibilities to set up labs in such a way that students are obliged to prepare all experimental work outside the lab room in a controllable way, thus saving valuable lab time? 
Online supervision of working groups

Online supervision of working groups is a form of teaching that can raise difficulties for particular courses. Unlike theoretical knowledge transfer in lectures, this form of education requires students to be taught certain competences (e.g. programming). Acquiring these competences often means that students have to be given very specific instructions, step by step. This turns out to be a challenge because these skills require very specific sequential interactions between instructor and student and because instructors find it more difficult to provide tailor-made solutions and to take into account the individual student's needs and preferences. Simply skipping teaching these competences is often no option because otherwise students will not be able to achieve their learning goals and thus their final learning outcomes.

There seem to be two types of solutions:

  • Students physically participate in the work groups or learn face to face from a properly trained SA or experienced fellow student
  • Students receive online forms of feedback from teachers and/or TA’s/fellow students
    The current situation and the government's more stringent measures make the first option unfeasible; this also applies to the physical "teach the teacher" methodology. The only option now is to provide online feedback and to look for online forms of feedback that enable the development of the necessary competences.  This can be done in two ways:
  1. Feedback from teachers:
    Teachers are encouraged to look for creative and innovative forms of feedback that appeal to competence development. If teachers use working groups methods that cannot be translated into online forms, they are advised to replace them with forms that can or reduce their share in the module without jeopardizing realizing the learning goals. The Canvas Conference application can be used by teachers and students to break into groups, share screens and ask and answer questions. In addition, teachers are advised to address bottlenecks that students often encounter in a video conference. Making use of the applications provided by TELT is recommended.
  2. Feedback from fellow students:
    Teachers can let students work on assignments online in pairs or small groups to support and complement each other (e.g. using Skype (incl. Screen Sharing) or Teams). Another option is to share a rubric or feedback form with students and ask them to use it to provide feedback to each other's work or ask SA’s to do that.